Some days, I’m just not feeling it. Have you ever had this happen?
You know your MITs, you have the whole day ahead of you, good things on the horizon… and all you want to do is lay in bed? Be somewhere else? Play hooky from all responsibility and re-watch Firefly for the 17th time?
Kidding. But seriously. Stop everything and go watch it.
Anyway, just like all other humans, I totally have those days. Probably more than I’d like to admit, because although I like to think I’m super human and above feeling tired and unmotivated, sometimes I just don’t want to do anything!
It’s totally fine if sometimes you just don’t feel like it. That’s normal.
What becomes a problem is waiting around for the fairy dust to sprinkle you with motivation.
Don’t Wait For The Fairy Dust
What defines a person is not how often they don’t feel like doing anything. We are hardwired for survival, and not necessarily a whole lot else. What matters is – how do you respond to not feeling like it?
Most of the world gives in to that feeling, assuming the sprinkling fairy dust of inspiration will brush them again at some point. But say you want your inspiration a little more timely and you’re tired of waiting for that flash of understanding. Good.
Inspiration isn’t just a magical thing that comes along every once in awhile. You can actually cultivate it.
And those who do are the ones who love their lives.
How To Cultivate Inspiration
This process is going to be slightly different for everybody. Depending on what you do, how you create, and what energizes you, the things that inspire you may be very different than the things that inspire your co-workers or the woman next to you in yoga class. That being said, there are a few tried and true methods that, from my research, appear to be pretty widespread!
This sounds counterintuitive, and chances are you have heard this before. Schedule time to create, and actually sit down to do the work in the time you have scheduled. If you avoid your creative Practice, you aren’t going to get inspired. I love that quote about just getting your butt in the chair if you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t inspired- plan out the space and time in your schedule to create, and use it for creation.
I do this with blog posts. I have ideas all the time for posts, little blurbs and paragraphs and quotes here and there. It used to be really hard for me to actually sit down and write them though. So many distractions and other things demanding my attention! (Because, you know, suddenly clipping my toenails has become urgent)
Even when I would schedule time to write, I would let myself get distracted. That brings us to our second point-
It’s Not Enough to Set the Intention
It’s really lovely to have a perfectly color coded Google calendar. Blue for creative writing time, orange for client calls, green for yoga and workouts… it looks so pretty! (And keeps me sane). But all those colors are just eye candy if you don’t actually stick to your schedule. If you’re not going to practice drawing at 8am, don’t schedule it then. If you know you work best at 1pm, yet when the time comes there are so many other things you could be doing, that’s when it’s time to make a decision.
Are you in this, or aren’t you?
Inspiration is a discipline. Feeling and using inspiration is not simply the lightning flash of genius and scribbling down some notes about all your brilliant plans. It’s the systematic implementation of the notes you take that give real results. Intention and Ideas are fabulous- Action and Consistency are rewarding.
Ultimately, Inspiration is a Mindset.
You can choose to see the world as full of ideas and magic, or not. You can choose to be frustrated and annoyed, and get stuck in that space, or you can choose to channel that frustration into creating something. The people who are inspired seek out inspiration, and then follow through on what they discover.
But what about when I do that consistently and today I just have a headache and I tried everything and I just CAN’T?
Word. When you have the practice of creating, sometimes you’re going to feel out of whack. Here’s my failsafe moves for getting re-energized and for re-directing my focus for action.
Move Your Body!
When I’m worn out or feeling stuck, especially mentally, I get up and MOVE. Sometimes that looks like doing 10 squats, or 30 seconds of mountain climbers. Sometimes I’ll do some handstand kick ups or a down dog. A lot of the time, I’ll get up, put on some music that pumps me up, and dance around for awhile.
Feeling stuck means there is stuck energy in your body. Move that energy, release the stuck.
Do Something Else Entirely
My best ideas come to my when I’m walking down the street, on my yoga mat, in the shower, or having a chat with friends. So say you sat down, gave it a shot, have been at it for awhile, and just aren’t getting anywhere. Go read a book, wander outside, switch gears to something administrative- specifically take your mind and your eyeballs off of your project.
Along with that,
Schedule inspiration, but also schedule breaks- the key is to not feel guilty about taking breaks. Or taking time off! Sometimes we need to go offline and step back in order to feel the inspiration. The more you practice and have these established habits in place, the more beneficial time off will become for you.
Finally, with all of my actions and direction, before I choose a task or assignment or experience, there are the three questions I ask myself to help me make a decision:
1) Will this light me up?
2) Will this expand me?
3) Will this be of service?
If I can’t answer a resounding YES to at least one of those questions, it doesn’t make the cut. And when I need some inspiration or direction, I look for things to do that fulfill these questions. More on that next week!
So remember- Inspiration is a Mindset. When you are feeling uninspired, how can you shift your focus? Where can you make space for regular creative practices?