Inspiration is a challenging thing. It wanes and waxes like the moon, only there is no natural schedule for inspiration to come and go. Inspiration often feels like a blue moon in the distance, an unobtainable brass ring letting us move forward with our day, our work, or our next step in life.
Inspiration, while transformational, is a false pretense.
As defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, inspiration is influence, movement, or guidance by divine or supernatural inspiration. This is quite a loaded definition.
On first glance, this definition goes against everything we’ve been taught about using the word being defined in the definition.
To a lot of people inspiration does feel as the definition characterizes it, though, something so far away that it requires the divine or supernatural as a catalyst to move mountains. The natural human response to the rare occasions when inspiration occurs, is to try and conjure the spirit. And we do this, all the time.
Open Google and search for “find inspiration” and you’ll discover the first ten of about 227,000,000 results.
Are you an entrepreneur and need inspiration? Why don’t you try reading, asking around, hitting the gym, focusing on yourself, pump up the music, study history, or any of these other ideas to find inspiration? One of the ideas shared in this article is “browsing the web” which, in good conscious, we don’t recommend it.
We even try to hack inspiration by introducing supplements like caffeine, believed to help find inspiration because it’s a stimulant. There is a level of legitimate science behind some of the hacking of inspiration, though.
There was a related article link in this post titled “Richard Branson on the Best Places to Find Inspiration” but when clicked, much like our search for on-demand inspiration, leads us to a “404 page not found” error.
If you’re interested in Branson’s thoughts on finding inspiration, it can be summed up in three words, “don’t sit still”.
Go do work
We falsely believe that we have to wait for inspiration to strike in order to move forward and feel great about the activities we’re doing. We couldn’t be more wrong.
“Don’t wait for inspiration. It comes while one is working.” – Henri Matisse
Doing work on a regular basis conjures the feeling of inspiration. Doing good work feeds the soul. Working deeply, though, provides something else altogether.
“Regularly diving into intense concentration and frankly uncomfortable levels of focus are what separate the people who add value in any profession from those who dabble in the unremarkable shallows.”, writes Sam Spurlin, editor for The Ready, a management consulting group dedicated to organization design and development.
Stop doing work
Forgetting the search for inspiration and trying to work deeply is hard work. In our day-to-day lives, we see inspiration as a motivation, something that should assist us with the ability to push through when we feel there is too much to do. Spoiler alert: When there is too much to do, you should stop doing.
Following the launch of our solution to create a product that focuses on people, not paperwork, Kin, our CEO Craig Bryant felt overwhelmed with the amount of work being produced. For Craig to find the inspiration (or in this case the ill equated motivation) to pull through, he stopped working. “I step back. Several steps. Maybe a mile or two. Perhaps even a nap.”
Inspiration vs. motivation
One of the largest misconceptions about inspiration is that the feeling equates to that of motivation. This belief contributes to the wrong reasons we are looking for inspiration.
Jonathan Mead, the founder of and self-described Chief Troublemaker at Paid to Exist, a platform to help put passions to work, says, “When I try to motivate myself, nine times out of ten I’m pushing myself to do something I don’t really care about.”. Jonathan contrasts motivation and inspiration further, “Inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When you’re tuned into your spirit, you are naturally drawn to do whatever feels best. You may do things that aren’t outwardly productive. Or you may write a book in 30 days. Either way, it’s all good because fulfillment is the end result.”
Whether it’s in spirit or we’re looking to accomplish things that we don’t have our hearts connected to, there’s one tool that we normally overlook to help us become more motivated and rely on inspiration less (and ironically create more of it).
Our co-founder, Mike Sanders says, “Inspiration is external – a song or movie that moves you and gets your mind and heart racing, a company you admire and want to use as your own bar of success. Motivation is internal – that innate drive to push forward, to excel, to achieve. You wake up with a fire to do more and do better. Having healthy rituals, especially ones immediately after waking like meditation, help you cultivate both and feeds inspiration fuel to your motivation fire.”
Consistency is key
While both inspiration and motivation are needed, what would really help us most, is a routine.
Habits, routines, and rituals. While the use of each of these words may indicate our level of commitment to them, the biggest takeaway is to create a schedule.
“If you’re serious about creating something compelling, you need to stop waiting for motivation and inspiration to strike you and simply set a schedule for doing work on a consistent basis,”, says James Clear, an author who focuses on behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement, “of course, that’s easy to say, but much harder to do in practice.”
There’s a ton of reasons to keep a regular schedule and a lot of opinions on what kind of schedule most people should keep to be successful. Ultimately, make a schedule that feels like it fits in your professional and personal life and try it out for a few weeks. Make adjustments as it becomes clearer what parts of your new schedule work best and what areas need improvement.
You’ll find that maintaining a regular schedule puts humans in a position to do the work with or without inspiration.
Forget the 227,000,000 reads on listing the 500,000,000 ways to “find” inspiration. The only thing we need to “find” is the icon for our calendar app on our phones.