Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. – Pablo Picasso
The Purpose of Inspiration
Have you ever experienced one of those unforgettable moments when something suddenly comes to mind that literally blows your mind? 😉 This idea is so profound and so unexpected that it immediately puts you into an optimal state of mind; it suddenly seems as though all the secrets of the universe have been unlocked for your eyes only. From here anything and everything becomes possible and you suddenly feel this rush of energy that moves you to action.
I’m sure at one time or another you have probably had one of these moments. You have had a profound moment where everything all of a sudden seems clear. It’s as though the clouds have parted and the sun’s warm rays are shining down on you. Moreover, there is all this hope and optimism that you are onto something revolutionary that will shake the foundations of your reality. Yes, it’s these kinds of moments that we typically refer to as INSPIRATION.
But what is the real purpose of inspiration? What does it allow you to be and do for instance?
For starters, inspiration allows you to create a clear direction for your life. This burst of clarity will typically light the path before you. Where before things might have been foggy and clouded under an uncertain veil, there is now light and a distinct path that you can follow.
It must, however, be noted that inspiration is fleeting. It comes and goes just as quickly. You can, therefore, feel inspired at one moment and deflated the next. As such, it’s absolutely critical that you make full use of your moments of inspiration. In fact, when you are feeling most inspired, that is the time to take massive and immediate action to bring your idea to fruition.
The purpose of that burst of inspiration is to immediately encourage you to take positive action towards your desired outcome. Moreover, it encourages you to go the extra mile, to work your butt off, and to persist in the face of adversity and uncertainty. In fact, when you’re feeling inspired you kind of feel fearless. All the fears you worried about no longer have the same hold on you. You have suddenly become a free spirit who is willing to take risks and do whatever it takes to accomplish your desired outcome.
This is essentially what inspiration does for us. It puts us into the most optimal state of mind that allows us to pursue our desired aims with more confidence, courage, and positive energy. However, the sad truth is that most people never make full use of inspiration. In fact, most people just don’t realize that inspiration goes beyond just thinking. It actually requires a balance between thinking and action to help you bring your desired outcomes to fruition. And it’s this balance that holds the key to “acting on inspiration”.
How People Typically Find Inspiration
Now of course before we can act on inspiration we must find that inspiration, to begin with. But how do we do this? How do people typically find the inspiration that will help them create the next Apple, Google or Disney Land?
There really is no straightforward answer for this. Inspiration comes to people in a multitude of different ways. How you find inspiration might not be how another person finds inspiration. However, even though these differences exist, inspiration does typically come under the following conditions:
- When you’re living with passion.
- When you’re intensely curious about something.
- When you spend a copious amount of time in solitude and self-reflection.
- When you expose yourself to new knowledge or information.
- When you expose yourself to a new set of experiences and/or perspectives.
- When you converse with other people or brainstorm ideas.
- When you undergo some kind of life transition or change.
- When adversity strikes and you are pressed against the wall.
- When you’re taking massive and unreasonable action towards a goal.
All of these conditions present you with an opportunity; an opportunity to find that special something that will help spark inspiration. However, you will typically struggle to find this spark if you are unable to effectively manage your emotions, or struggling with limiting beliefs and/or unrealistic expectations. All of these factors will simply sabotage your progress and prevent you from moving forward in an optimal way.
No matter what your current condition it’s important to remind yourself that inspiration often comes to those who are flexible in perspective and who approach each situation with an open mind. What seems impossible is possible, and what won’t work could very well work under the right conditions and with the right frame-of-mind.
Consider for a moment those periods of solitude that you spend intimately with yourself. It’s within those moments where you are literally leaving the outside world behind and instead spending time within your own self. You’re spending time within the confines of your own imagination where anything is possible. It is these moments that help you sharpen your senses and help you tune-in to the subtle things that will spark your inspiration.
There is, of course, something very profound within all this; something that forms the bedrock of all inspiration. And that idea is that inspiration must be acquired from within; it must come from within yourself. Yes, external events and circumstances can certainly spark inspiration, but ultimately that inspiration always comes from internal sources.
It must, however, be noted that no matter how inspired you become, this will never lead to proactive action if you’re lacking the necessary knowledge, resources, support and/or skills that can help bring your goal to fruition. And this is typically where most people stumble. They generate some fantastic ideas but simply lack the necessary resources to follow through with those ideas. As such, later in life, many people struggle with regret about what could have or should have been if they had only acted on their idea.
In order to avoid these pitfalls and regrets, we must dig deeper into what it truly means to act on inspiration.
A Process for Getting Inspired
Within this section let’s explore a five-step process that can help you make room for inspiration in your life.
Many people figure that inspiration requires some sort of creativity and maybe a little imagination. Yes, in ways this can be true, however, what many people don’t realize is that they need to make the time and space for inspiration or simply need to put themselves within situations that can help spark their imaginations.
Let’s explore how to do this right here within the following five steps.
Step 1: Know What You Want
Your very first objective when it comes to inspiration is to decide what exactly you would like to get inspired about. This is typically a goal that you are wanting to achieve or even potentially a problem that you would like to solve. Essentially it boils down to some kind of change that you would like to make that relies on you creating something very specific.
To gain clarity about what it is you want, ask yourself:
What goal would I like to achieve?
What specifically do I want to do?
What specifically do I want to create?
Are these things meaningful? Why do I want them?
Answering the final question honestly is a fundamental key to finding your inspiration. It’s important because you typically won’t get inspired to do something if it has no meaning for you. In other words, there must be a big WHY reason for wanting to achieve or create something. In fact, the more meaningful something is, the easier it will be to find inspiration.
Step 2: Schedule Time for Inspiration
Now that you are very clear about what it is you want, it’s time to specifically schedule time for inspiration.
Many people assume that inspiration is something that will suddenly hit you on the side of the head when you least expect it. This certainly does happen, but only to people who had previously made time for inspiration. In other words, don’t expect inspiration to strike you like a bolt of lightning without the necessary preparation beforehand.
To schedule time for inspiration actually means taking time out during your day to separate yourself from distractions (people, technology, media) in order to find inspiration. Separating yourself from these physical distractions is, however, the easy part. It’s the emotional distractions that can create the most trouble. I’m of course talking about the unhelpful emotions that we carry within. It’s not so easy to separate ourselves from these emotions, and yet without the necessary separation inspiration will be hindered.
Please have a read of How to Master Your Emotions for ideas to help you better manage your emotional experiences.
Having now found time during the day for a little inspiration, it’s important that you don’t just sit or stand there waiting for lightning to strike. Finding inspiration is a proactive process that should be treated like any other goal you set. What this essentially means is that you need to have a deadline in place for how long you will spend time trying to find inspiration. Whether it’s five minutes, ten minutes or one hour makes no difference. What is important is that you lay down a concrete deadline when your period of inspiration ends and you come back to your regular routine.
All this talk about deadlines is important because without a deadline there is no sense of urgency and without urgency, your brain will get lazy and nothing will come about of the time you spend.
So now that you have a deadline in place, set a timer for however long you will spend on finding inspiration. Then just be there with yourself and with any other materials you brought with you to help you get inspired.
Above all else, it’s important that you just become a thinker and creator. In fact, you should do nothing else but think and create, think and create, think and create… There is no need to analyze things too much, just put yourself into the frame-of-mind where you are a thinker and creator at this very moment. Nothing else matters but this very moment. Everything you need is available for you at this very moment. This is your time to come up with something awe-inspiring that can help you move forward. 🙂
Step 3: Explore Your Ideas
As you spend these precious moments searching for inspiration several ideas might come to mind to help you achieve your goal, solve your problem or create something revolutionary. As these ideas come to you, it’s important that you don’t dismiss them. Even though an idea might look flawed, it could very well be the secret ingredient that can make another idea work. Therefore it’s absolutely paramount that you keep an open mind at all times throughout this process.
When you come across any idea—no matter how small or insignificant it might seem—it’s important that you jot it down or capture it in some way. Ask yourself:
What is this exactly?
How does it make me feel?
What are the possibilities here?
Now take those answers and get them down on paper in the form of doodles, diagrams, charts, mind maps, or simply through writing down some notes. It’s even important to capture random observations and thoughts that might initially seem quite insignificant, but in the long-run can potentially lead to a eureka moment.
Once you have some ideas down on paper, it’s now time to bend, flex, shape and reshape these ideas. You might, for instance, want to combine ideas together, or use parts of ideas interchangeably to create something new and different. Alternatively, you may want to ask yourself:
What if this idea was a cartoon?
What if this idea was a game?
What if this idea was a dance?
What if this idea was a book?
How would this change how I think about this idea?
What could be possible by thinking about it in this way?
Creativity, of course, comes to the forefront here as you begin to work with the ideas you have laid down on paper in imaginative ways. It can, therefore, be helpful to work on developing your Creative Thinking Skills in order to help you work with ideas more effectively.
Now of course, not every inspiration session you partake in will bring forth creative ideas that can be acted upon. In fact, some sessions might just involve taking a leisurely stroll through the park while in a deep state of self-reflection. Nothing concrete may come out of this session, however, it could very well lay the seeds for the next session where you will take special care to be a little more proactive in the time you spend searching for inspiration.
One insignificant small spark of an idea that you completely disregard today could very well be the catalyst for the next big idea you will have tomorrow. You just never know. As such you need to always keep an open mind and never disregard any idea that comes to mind.
Step 4: Acknowledge What’s Required
Let’s now say that as a result of your inspirational session you have found an idea you can work with. It’s time now to take this idea and start building a concrete plan of action that will help you to bring this idea to fruition.
This is a step that many people never take. In fact, most people will probably tell you that they have plenty of great ideas. But very few will tell you that they actually acted upon these ideas. To live a life of no regrets it’s paramount that we take advantage of every opportunity we get to act upon the ideas that come to us because you just never know how many more opportunities like this you will get in the future.
Okay, so now you have this great idea in mind. Let’s develop a plan of action for bringing this idea to fruition by asking:
What’s my plan of action for bringing this idea to fruition?
What specific steps do I need to take to make this idea happen?
How exactly will I bring this idea into my reality?
What specific skills might I need?
What knowledge might be of value?
What resources and tools might be worth acquiring?
What support might be necessary?
Who specifically could support me with bringing this idea to fruition?
How exactly could they support me with this?
What else might be required to help me bring this idea to life?
This, of course, isn’t about turning over every single stone and bogging yourself down with details. The purpose is instead to give yourself some clarity as to what might be required to help you bring this idea to fruition. And of course with clarity will come more self-confidence and self-assurance, which will encourage you to take the necessary steps to make this happen.
Step 5: Take Immediate Action
Once you get a general idea of the steps you need to take to move forward, it’s time to take immediate action without delay. Remember that inspiration is fleeting. If you’re inspired then this is the right time to take action. If you delay then something will always get in the way, and tomorrow will become next week, then next month, then next year; and before you know it you will be 100 years old looking back at your life full of regrets and disappointment.
It is, of course, possible that within the timeframe you set yourself for your inspiration session that you got very little out of it. Just maybe you put together some disjointed ideas that don’t yet make much sense. Typically this will hold many people back from taking action, however, it shouldn’t hold you back from moving forward and working with whatever you have at this very moment.
You see many people spend their entire lives waiting for inspiration to strike. They wait for that perfect idea to hit them on the side of the head. However, this rarely if ever happens. Inspiration is rarely if ever a passive experience. It’s rather something that you need to actively partake in. It’s actually through partaking and taking positive action on an incomplete idea that you will eventually find the inspiration you need to achieve your desired outcome.
Given this, no matter how insufficient your inspiration, it’s absolutely paramount that you take immediate action. Your attitude should be like…
I will work with what I have…
This will evolve over time…
More inspiration will come as I take proactive action…
Only with this kind of attitude and approach are great things ever possible to achieve.
Nobody achieves greatness by waiting for things to happen. They achieve greatness by making things happen; whether they’re fully inspired or not.
All this, of course, starts with working with what you have and then figuring things out as you move along. Inspiration is therefore not one big lightning bolt of energy that suddenly strikes, it’s instead a multitude of smaller bolts that strike you over a period of time as you take proactive action towards the attainment of your goal.
21 Ideas for Finding Your Inspiration
Within this final section, I want to literally bombard you with as many ideas as possible to help you find inspiration anyhow, anywhere and at any time. These ideas will not only get you in the right frame-of-mind, but will also put you in ideal situations that will naturally make you feel more alive, optimistic, and inspired.
It’s important to still keep in mind that we should never wait for inspiration to strike; we must instead be proactive with everything we do in order to make room for inspiration to thrive in our lives.
It is also important to point out that we must enter these situations with a very clear idea of what it is we would like to achieve. This is where the five-step process presented within the previous section is of significance. Working through these steps will help you to gain some clarity about what it is you want. Only in this way will you find the inspiration you need to help answer your most peeling questions.
Speaking of questions, it can be helpful to turn your desired goal into a question. This is helpful because your brain is stimulated by questions. Asking a question immediately switches your brain into “search mode” where it is actively looking for the answer. As such, this question will immediately put you into the right frame-of-mind that can help you find the answer you are looking for far more readily and quickly.
Okay, so let’s now get stuck into this list of suggestions to help you get inspired. 🙂
Exercise and activity, in general, can help declutter your mind; thereby allowing it to think with more clarity and purpose.
Express yourself through words and actions. The more expressive you get the more emotion you generate and the more likely you are to find inspiration.
Take time to sketch ideas, observations, and thoughts. The act of doodling or sketching will help you see things from a different vantage point. Then from this new vantage point, you will gather interesting insights and ideas.
Say Yes More Often
Say YES to new experiences and opportunities to do things you have never done before. Say YES to shaking up your regular schedule and routine. Inspiration thrives on newness and novelty. Do something different, new and interesting to spark inspiration.
Live your life with randomness in mind. For instance, drive to an unscheduled destination and explore this area with an open mind. While you’re there randomly speak to a stranger and ask them a question that will help you find the answers you are after.
Alternatively, you could visit a museum and just explore your surroundings. Every sculpture or piece of artwork could very well hold some valuable answers that can help you find solutions to the questions you are after.
Pick a random quote and make it your mission to study it for an entire day. The more you contemplate this quote the more clarity you will have about what it means and the possible impact it could have on your life. Alternatively, pick a random book and read a random page, then think about what lessons you can take away from this information.
Explore your world randomly through window shopping or through taking random photographs of your surroundings. Once the photographs are taken pin them up on your wall and use them as tools for contemplation.
Alternatively, you can explore the online world using YouTube, StumbleUpon, Wikipedia. Choose a random video, website or article and just explore it in detail, then reflect on what it means for you in your situation and how it can potentially help you achieve your goals.
You can also randomly watch biographies, documentaries, and films that explore lives of people or topics you are not familiar with. And it’s of course within these explorations where you will gather interesting insights that can help you find the answers you are searching for.
Interact with people randomly by helping a stranger or by asking a child for advice to a question you have on your mind. Then no matter how unusual their answer accept it as being the truth and see what you can do with this idea.
Learn from Mistakes
Do something that you are absolutely horrible at. Yes, I actually want you to fail miserably and make a plethora of mistakes along the way. Then take time to learn from these experiences; figure out why things went wrong and how you can use this to improve other areas of your life.
Explore Your Senses
While you go about your day take time to tune-in to your senses at a deep and profound level. For instance, become more mindful of the food you are eating and how it is making you feel; or explore the smells of your surroundings; the sounds of birds singing, or simply spend time observing random things such as a plastic bag blowing in the wind or a light reflecting off a window.
Consciously tune-in to all these sensory experiences and then contemplate what it all means and how you can use these experiences to help you find the answers you are searching for.
Take time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures that we typically all take for granted. For instance just spend time listening to music, watching a funny movie, laughing with friends, playing with animals, or whatever else helps you relax and enjoy life to the fullest. Within these moments there is no pressure to search for answers, however, it is typically within these moments that inspiration can strike.
Track Your Dreams
Dreams are mysterious and wonderous. We don’t fully as yet understand them from a scientific perspective, however, what we do know is that they can hold answers to the questions you are searching for.
Spend time tracking your dreams by keeping a dream journal beside your bed. Within every dream, there will be interesting insights that often will make absolutely no sense at all. However, if you keep an open mind you can potentially turn these experiences into concrete ideas that can help you achieve your desired objectives.
Play Children’s Games
Have you ever watched kids playing all sorts of made-up games at the playground? They are just so carefree and happy. As adults we don’t typically get involved in children’s games, however, maybe it’s time we did. Putting yourself into a child’s gameworld can help you relax and free your mind to think about your life and circumstances in a very different way.
Absorb Yourself into Your Passions
What things are you most passionate about? What do you absolutely love doing? Spending time focusing on these things will immediately put you into a more optimal state-of-mind for inspiration to thrive.
Create a Vision Board
Build a vision board around the goal you have set for yourself. Cut out photos and words from old magazines or newspapers and pin them onto a pinboard or stick them onto a large piece of cardboard. Select words and images that help keep you focused and inspired. And of course when you’re done be sure to hang it up somewhere in view where you will be able to refer to it each day.
Spend Time Meditating
Meditation provides you with some quiet time for yourself in solitude. No longer are you absorbed by the world around you. You are instead focused on the world within you. And it is after all within the depths of your own mind (within the silence between your thoughts) where you will find clarity and insights that can help you find the answers you are searching for.
Play Visual Games
Take time to visualize yourself living the life of a child and think about how you see the world, how you see others, how you see yourself, and about what’s possible. Then use these insights to help you find the answers you are after.
Alternatively, visualize yourself as an eagle. See yourself through the eagle’s eyes flying high above the world. Now consider how different the world is from this perspective, and what might be possible when viewing the world from this vantage point.
These are of course just two examples of the visual games you can play that can help shift how you think about your world and circumstances.
Reflect on the Past
Take time daily for self-reflection. Think about your past experiences, the lessons you learned, the mistakes you made, and even about all the things you accomplished. Every experience holds within it the seed of an opportunity that can help you gather valuable insights to the peeling questions you have on your mind today. However, it is only through a conscious exploration of these experiences that you will make the necessary associations and connections that can help inspire you in the present moment.
It’s All About the Details
Always be conscious of your surroundings, however, don’t just see things at a surface level, instead make the effort to look deeper; to think about things on multiple levels of understanding.
Things are never how we first make them out to be. However, most people never get beyond that surface level so they therefore never see things how they are but rather how they initially interpret them to be. Your task is to think deeply about your surroundings, about your experiences, about your conversations and interactions. Don’t just accept things at face value, dig deeper and explore why things are the way they are, and why they aren’t any different.
This is all of value for you because when we dig deeper into something we gather more insights and understanding. And with more clarity-of-mind, we are better able to find the answers we are searching for.
For instance, while observing something within your environment ask yourself:
What does this remind me of?
How could that be useful?
What insights can I draw from this?
How can this help me find the answers I am looking for?
Here you are no longer a passive observer, but rather an active participant who sees everything as an opportunity to help them find the answers they are after.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Those who take themselves or their life too seriously rarely if ever find the inspiration they are after. Inspiration simply cannot thrive in a mind that isn’t flexible enough to see the brighter side of life. This, in particular, becomes problematic when a silly idea comes to mind. The person who takes life too seriously will immediately dismiss this idea. It is the person who is willing to have some fun and play with the idea who will gain the superior advantage over the long-haul.
The final suggestion essentially has nothing to do with inspiration but rather everything to do with proactive action.
Inspiration will not always strike when you want it to. And if you’re waiting for it to strike then you could, in fact, be wasting a great deal of time that you can use to help move forward.
Typically the best way to find inspiration is through taking positive proactive action in the pursuit of your goal. When we are moving, doing, talking, and grooving our way towards our goal, that is when all the pieces start to come together. All of a sudden what initially didn’t make any sense at all, or what in fact might have looked like a dead end finally starts to make perfect sense. Uncertainty turns to clarity and the path ahead is now in full view.
This is essentially how to find inspiration. It’s all in the actions you take and not necessarily within the moments of contemplation. Therefore it can be said that inspiration is not a passive act but rather a proactive venture that reveals itself through the actions we take in the pursuit of our goals.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’m confident you will gain tremendous value from using the accompanying IQ Matrix for coaching or self-coaching purposes. This mind map provides you with a quick visual overview of the article you just read. The branches, interlinking ideas, and images model how the brain thinks and processes information. It’s kind of like implanting a thought into your brain – an upgrade of sorts that optimizes how you think about these concepts and ideas. 🙂
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 4 Ways to Find Inspiration Everywhere @ Fast Company
- 10 Ways to Find Inspiration @ Time
- 17 Tips on How to Invite Passion and Inspiration Back into Your Life @ The Freedom Experiment
- 21 Ways to Get Inspired @ Entrepreneur
- 25 Simple Ways for Entrepreneurs to Find Inspiration @ Inc.
- 49 Ways to Get Inspired @ Robin Sharma
- 50 Ways to Find Inspiration @ Tiny Buddha
- How to Get Inspired @ WikiHow
- How to Get Inspired, Anytime and Anywhere @ Mind Body Green
- How to Find Inspiration for Great Ideas? @ The Washington Post
- How to Unleash Creativity and Find Inspiration Today @ Psychology Today
- The Science of Inspiration Explained @ Lifehacker
- Top Artists Reveal How to Find Creative Inspiration @ The Guardian