There are days that I roll out of bed and I know that whatever happens that day, I am determined to make an impact on the world and people around me. However, the unfortunate truth is that the majority of my days don’t begin that way. For myself and many others, we have to take an active participation in the work required to motivate and inspire ourselves to do the best we can we can every day. To show up as the best version of ourselves, even in situations that are mundane, unexciting, or uninspiring. It is easy to fall prey to the temptation of laziness – to accept the reality of the daily routine that squashes or does not make time for creativity. It is up to us to make that time.
Importance of Being Inspired
For me personally, I spend the majority of my day working in an office as a marketer. Although I find parts of what I do interesting, even sometimes exciting, the majority of my day is spent working for clients that sell products I don’t believe in. Now, many career-oriented individuals work for clients they don’t like or on projects they don’t believe in, but can still derive daily inspiration from the notion that they are working towards a goal. Oftentimes that goal is to move up within their company, make leaps in status and professional level by joining another, more prestigious company, or receive praise from their clients or boss.
For me, I don’t find any of these things particularly inspiring or motivating. Not to say that anyone should or should not, but for me, I feel inspired when I know I am putting in quality time working on self-created projects. When I write for my websites and feel that I’ve made advances in improving existing pages or creating articles on new topics, I feel a certain satisfaction that keeps me going.
However, for people who fall into both categories of motivation, it is sometimes hard to remind ourselves that a long-term goal lies ahead. For some individuals, this long-term goal may not even be defined yet. For me personally, I sometimes find myself dragging my feet when it comes to sitting down and forcing myself to write on days that feel especially mundane.
Whether you’re a creative, a career-hustler, or any other category of a human who wants to put out the best version of themselves into the world as often as they can, we must always be reminded to actively participate in promoting our own inspiration. Only by provoking these motivating factors can we ensure that the stimuli we need to drive us forward is working in our favor. Here are a few methods of self-inspiration that work for me.
Listen to Motivating Speakers During Your Drive to Work
Although it’s tempting to start every morning with news podcasts like The Daily during your commute to work, I’d encourage you to use this time you already have set aside to begin your day listening to a speaker or podcast that inspires you. You can save your news update for lunchtime. These podcasts can be industry-specific (if you’re looking to be inspired to make improvements to your craft), but there are many that are craft-agnostic, featuring a wide variety of inspiring and interesting people. As a long-time fan of Tim Ferriss, I personally find myself listening to his podcast called The Tim Ferriss Show which discusses topics ranging from traveling and vagabonding to promoting creativity and innovation. When I am in the mood to listen to more industry-centric podcasts, I also enjoy listening to Real Famous (which features a different well-known and respected figure in advertising each episode), and Seth Godin’s Akimbo (another popular advertising podcast).
Go for a Walk
You’ve heard this tip a million times before, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to get up and moving during moments when you’re feeling especially uninspired or lethargic. For me, the act of physically removing myself from a place of work (like my office space) and force myself outside and around the block always brings me back to center. Even if you’re swamped with tasks, make the time to get outside, or even just up from your desk and around the office.
Some studies have even indicated that the foot’s impact during walking sends waves of pressure through your arteries and blood vessels that significantly alter the blood supply to the brain. By increasing this blood flow and creating more oxygen circulation in the brain, our minds have been known to function better and more effectively.
I think that the daily practice of writing promotes a level of creativity that is unparalleled in any discipline. While not everyone can play music, paint, or sing, anyone who knows how to read and write can benefit from this daily practice. For me personally, the benefits I reap from this habit seem to be twofold. For one, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I sit down and write, even if I know that no one will read it. This feeling of having accomplished something results in a chain reaction, ultimately encouraging me to go on to accomplish other tasks I have on my plate. (I’ve also noticed that it’s alarmingly easy to fall out of this loop after missing just one day of it).
The other half of what writing accomplishes for me is that it allows me to convey ideas in my head onto a readable document. I don’t consider myself to be particularly skilled at public speaking, but the more I’m able to get these thoughts out of my head and onto a sheet of paper (or a computer screen), the more eloquent I find my speech patterns to be. In this sense, for me (and many others, I’m sure), daily writing is more than just a creative outlet, but a way to constantly inspire and motivate yourself.
Visualize the End Goal
What are you working toward? A change in title? To have your name next to the “1st Place” placard at a sporting event? A valuable way to keep yourself reminded of the end goal is to force yourself to reckon with it every day. Print it out and tape it to the ceiling above your bed. Type out your end goal in a massive font, convert it to a picture, and make it your computer wallpaper. As creatures of habit, it’s always easier for us to get lazy and forget about what lies ahead at the end of the tunnel. The solution is simple – remove choice from the situation so being reminded of your goal is a natural, default stimulus you’re forced to encounter.
Have you ever tried removing the loose variable of food from the situation? I personally do my best work in the morning, and during this time I skip breakfast. In fact, as someone who tries to keep to a strict intermittent fasting schedule, I stop consuming food the night before, typically around 8 or 9 pm. By abstaining from intaking any and all calories (this includes coffee creamers, sugar, alcohol, and so on), I find my cognitive ability to be far clearer the next morning compared to days when I have breakfast. I typically fast through lunchtime, allowing myself to drop into temporary ketosis until I have my first meal. Although this activity in itself does not necessarily inspire me, it makes staying motivated and focused a hell of a lot easier (especially when paired with the other tips above.) For more information about intermittent fasting, click here.
Force a Change of Perspective
Humans are creatures of habit. And although habit can be useful for staying productive when getting menial or monotonous tasks done, it can also kill creativity. If you’re used to doing your work at the same desk every day, try changing your surroundings if you can, even temporarily. Bring your laptop into your office kitchen, allowing yourself to be exposed to a different kind of foot traffic and stimuli. Use your weekend to get out of town for a short day trip if you have the means to do so. You could even try listening to different music while working for a less dramatic change. However, you choose to do it, allow yourself to be affected by the differences these changes might bring you.