Every single one of us would like to feel more motivated in some area of life. (Personally, I could use more motivation in the exercise department!)
That’s why there are so many “life hack” articles out there with titles like 5 Simple Ways to Stay Motivated All Day Long!
But that’s not what’s I’m writing about here … not only because I don’t believe it’s necessary to stay motivated all day long (who are these super-human energizer bunnies anyway??), but because I believe that what most people are actually looking for is deeper than motivation.
I think what most of us are craving isn’t motivation … it’s inspiration.
Motivation (in my definition, at least) is having the ability, energy, and desire to do something that needs doing. I’m sure there are plenty of things you need to do that you’d like more motivation for, so yes, of course it is valuable to know how to motivate yourself.
Inspiration, however, is another level beyond motivation. It’s a deeply creative force — a spark of an idea, an inner drive, a deep calling, a flash of insight, an energetic pull toward something you find fascinating. It’s also the state of being that many of us call “flow,” when time melts away and you’re wholly immersed in your creation or idea.
Motivation feels like energy; inspiration feels like magic.
If you’re feeling unmotivated, there are plenty of things you can do to jumpstart your motivation. You can give yourself a pep talk, or incentivize yourself with some kind of reward, or get an accountability partner to keep you on track. I’ve written a few posts already about feeling more energized when you’re in a slump.
It doesn’t work the same way with inspiration, though. You can’t push yourself to feel inspired, the way you can push yourself to get a surge of motivation.
Inspiration isn’t something you go out and hunt down, sling over your shoulder, and haul back home with you … it’s something you receive, if you’re in the right state of mind.
INSPIRATION IS ALWAYS TRYING TO FIND YOU, IF YOU’RE OPEN
Every single one of us has a constant source of inspiration trying to flow to us at all times. It’s just a matter of whether you’re open to receiving the flow or if you’re somehow blocking it.
I’ve worked with lots of clients who have told me they’re not creative, or they’re terrible at coming up with ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All humans are natural idea generators with impulses, callings, fascinations, and creative potential. It’s just that most of us are unconsciously doing things to block the flow of inspiration that’s trying to get through.
Negativity, stress, overthinking, chronic busyness, and self-judgment are the worst culprits for blocking your natural flow of inspiration and creativity.
Inspiration can’t flow to you if you’re in a negative state of mind.
Any ideas that do show up when you’re feeling negative are probably reactive and born of fear or lack. Which means they’re not coming from pure inspiration and are unlikely to be sustainable or fulfilling.
BECOMING OPEN TO RECEIVE INSPIRATION
Feeling inspiration, then, requires a process of clearing your mind, releasing pressure, and generally getting yourself to a place of feeling good.
Here are the steps I take when I want to feel inspired and get into that state of “flow” (in fact, I just did this before writing this blog):
- Do whatever it takes to stop feeling negative, clear your head, and get to an emotionally neutral place. Take a nap, go for a walk, do a short guided meditation, or just close your eyes for 5 minutes and breathe deeply. Whatever makes you feel like you hit the mental reset button.
- Then, immediately do something to get you into a feel-good state. Think of it like you’re jumpstarting your positive momentum. Maybe you read a few pages of an inspiring book, or do a few stretches to get your body moving, or call a friend for short chat. You know best what kinds of things make you feel happy and energized, so choose whatever you know will make you feel great in the moment.
[Important: Don’t multi-task during this step — so no checking email or running through your mental to-do list while you do this. Focusing solely on whatever will make you feel good gets your positive momentum going quickly and ensures you won’t slide back into stress mode.]
- Allow the inspiration to show up, and act on it right away. Now that you’re in a clear-minded, feel-good state, you’re perfectly positioned to receive ideas and inspirations. Keep in mind that inspiration may not always show up immediately as a momentous, lightning bolt of in idea. It’s often very subtle at the beginning. Become aware of any inklings, curiosities, impulses, or nudges you get in any direction, and act on them right away. It can be like following a trail of breadcrumbs leading you to that bigger “ah-ah” moment.
THIS TAKES PRACTICE
If this approach to feeling inspired and energized is a totally different from your normal modus operandi, then don’t be surprised if not much happens the first few times you try it. You’re re-training your brain to become open to ideas instead of trying to force them, so you might feel some resistance at first. That’s totally normal.
If you keep practicing, though, you’ll start having more and more creative ideas and feeling inspired way more often. Plus, the whole process feels WAY better than trying to force inspiration when you’re just not feeling it.
So tell me, could you use more inspiration in your daily life? What kinds of things tend to get you into that state of “flow”? Leave a comment to let me know!
TOO LONG, DIDN’T READ? LISTEN INSTEAD!
If reading long blogs just isn’t your deal, you’re in luck:
We’re now recording our blogs for you!
Here’s Kristen reading this week’s blog:
Kristen (+ Rachel)
P.S. If you’re feeling chronically uninspired (and unmotivated for that matter), that might just mean you’re heading down a path that doesn’t align with your passions.
For those of you who want to reconnect with your passion (or figure out what it is to begin with) in order to feel more inspired on a daily basis, we’re opening enrollment for our Passion Plan Virtual Experience program in just a few weeks. It’s a 4-week online course where we guide you, step-by-step, through finding your passion and taking action. Enrollment will open in mid-September. Join our VIP list for early bird enrollment surprises!
Since my stroke in April, I have been working on this very thing, as I reassess my life, look at my passions, and get in the frame of mind to hear what I’m really supposed to do when I grow up. That’s actually not quite accurate because we all have different “assignments” at different seasons of our life. (At 57 I’ve been through many). But there have been seasons when I don’t think I got it right and the stroke has allowed me to hit the reset button. In this new season I have signed up for your email as one of my inspiration sources and am reading it as I wait for my ride to work. I feel the juices flowing already. Looking forward to the flow!
Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that you had a stroke in April! Sounds like you’re taking it as a sign to re-evaluate your life and reconnect with your joy and your passions. I’m really amazed and impressed with how you’ve re-purposed such a scary experience and made it a catalyst for positive change in your life. Glad you’ve become so open to inspiration. I have no doubt the ideas and creative flow are on their way for you! I’m happy you’re now part of our community! 🙂
Wow. Again your timing is perfect 🙂 This whole past week I have been really stressed, frustrated and at a loss of what to do on a decision I am having to make this week. Yesterday I finally came to terms with the possibility of “what if I said no.” (No to the opportunity/career path.) A wave of peace washed over me. That was hard to cope with. My fear voice crept immediately, “But if you’re backing out because of fear, and that it’s hard work, etc…” It’s as if fear was using fear as its argument which has made it so confusing. As mentioned in your article listening to my total body response has kept me resound on the direction I need to go. This article/post is all but confirmation to listen to your body and the breadcrumbs of inspiration in front you. Thank you. The end <3
I love that this message was such perfect timing for you! It’s so cool when that happens. 🙂 What a powerful experience you described of noticing the difference between the fearful voice in your head vs. what your body is telling you is right. You’re so right — fear will use any tactic it can (including threatening MORE fear) to get you to stay in your comfort zone. Definitely confusing! But you’re clearly getting really good at telling the difference between that fearful voice and what you know to be true on a deeper level. I love that you’re learning to listen to your body more and trust that the breadcrumbs are leading you in the right direction (even if you can’t see the end point quite yet). Thanks for sharing!
I’m curious about the ‘state before’: is there a ‘need’ for inspiration at some level? A twinge of discontent with the known and usual?*
And how large an action is needed to confirm that the inspiration has been consciously received?
*You indicated a need to move away from staying stuck in negative – just helping it along to neutral, then moving into positive. Does it help to pinpoint the source of the glums and a conscious willingness to actually move instead of cosying up with a bout of misery?
Or can ‘anything’ turn up to get you onto a new and more helpful path? (Even if the Universe persists in taking you by the scenic route…)
PS the anti-whingeing rule is still mostly holding, despite some heavy-duty challenges. Thanks.
I love the way your mind works! Such great questions. 🙂 I’ll do my best to share my take.
I do believe that humans ‘need’ inspiration on some level. Is it necessary to our survival? Not necessarily (although a case could certainly be made!). But humans were created to grow, expand, evolve … and without inspiration, we can’t do that. We stagnate and feel restless. That’s why so many of us crave that feeling of inspiration and flow — it’s a natural state for all of us.
I don’t think the magnitude of the action matters as much as how you’re feeling when the inspiration hits. Are you feeling anxious or fearful? Or are you feeling content, happy, and/or excited? If you’re anywhere on the neutral>positive scale of emotions, then you can probably trust that it’s true inspiration and not a reactive fearful idea.
And I agree that sometimes identifying the case of your misery can help you move through it more quickly. But other times, digging into why you’re feeling glum just makes you MORE glum. So check in with yourself and see if examining the ‘why’ is helping or hurting.
Again, awesome questions! Thanks for adding so much to this conversation. And congrats on keeping your complaints to a minimum, despite plenty of temptations! I’m impressed. 🙂
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