The daily routine, and even drudgery, of life sometimes beats our dreams out of us, a little bit at a time. Before we know it, we’ve lost the drive we once propelled us to achieve our goals.
Inspiration is what drives creativity, innovation and progress of all types. Inspired people design a better mousetrap, create iconic works of art and lead businesses that radically transform marketplaces. One of the best ways to keep making consistent progress is to keep the fires of inspiration stoked. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this. Start with the following five tips.
1. Use inspirational quotes.
We tend to accept and mirror back the qualities, ideas and traits that we see around us every day. That being the case, sometimes all it takes to stay inspired is to expose ourselves to a few inspiring words on a daily basis.
Take a page from Jeff Bezos’s book and stick printed copies of your favorite motivational quotes on the refrigerator. You can also put inspiring quotes or affirmations on sticky notes around your desk, on your mirror, or on your computer monitor.
2. Make a list of your reasons.
Reaching a big goal can take a long time and a lot of effort. It’s no wonder that we sometimes feel like we may simply be making life a lot harder for ourselves. Often, the harder we have to work at reaching a big goal, the easier it is for us to lose sight of reasons why we adopted the goal to begin with.
A written list of your reasons for pursuing a specific goal can help you stay motivated and inspired to put in that hard work and keep on striving to grab the brass ring.
When you’re creating your list of reasons behind a specific project or goal, aim to keep the list as long and as emotionally powerful as possible. We may use reason and logic to make decisions, but when it comes to putting in the hours for long-term goals, emotion is what keeps us fired up and motivated.
You could simply create the list and then set it aside. However to make the most out of this tactic, print your list and then schedule personal time each day to meditate on those reasons. By reinforcing your decision each day in this way, you internalize those reasons more and even expand upon them if you like. When you find your motivation waning, pull those reasons out anywhere and at anytime for a quick hit of inspiration.
3. Let others inspire and lead you.
Sometimes, we humans make things more difficult than they need to be. For example, you can struggle through a process or goal on your own, refusing all help — or you can learn from those who have gone before you.
Regularly read biographies and memoirs of people who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles or who attained goals similar to yours. Allow yourself to be inspired by their victories and accomplishments. If they reached the goal, you can, too.
4. Select a physical representation.
In many religions, objects are imbued with specific spiritual meaning and used by the faithful to attain a more peaceful and balanced state of being. Buddhist malas and Catholic rosaries help center and focus the mind, while the Jewish mezuzah serves to sanctify the home and remind those of their relationship with God.
Talismans don’t have to be religious or spiritual, however, in order to be useful. You can use a small, meaningful object to help remind you of the importance of your project or goal. You can use any object of art or decoration, or a piece of jewelry if you prefer, as long as it visually represents for you some aspect of your intention. If you can create one, even better.
Remember, it doesn’t need to speak to anyone else except you. Display it on your desk, on your wall, or somewhere you’ll see it regularly, or leave it in a pocket of your clothing. The key is your association of the object with your goal. It can recharge your inspiration each time you see or touch it.
5. Exercise, meditate and play.
Stress is an inspiration-killer, and one of the best defenses is a complete change of pace, both physically and mentally.
Let yourself wander, both mind and body. For example, even a simple daily walk provides physical exercise and allows your brain to decompress and destress. When you permit your mind to wander, it’s more capable of making creative leaps and generating new, viable ideas.
Finally, don’t let yourself buy into that “all work and no play” ethos. Truly inspired and creative people realize that, as important as hard work is, you also have to fill the well at some point.
Engage in some activity that’s relaxing and fun, without a competitive edge. Woodworking, painting, and even coloring books can be effective outlets to decompress and play, giving a stressed-out mind a chance to breathe and get inspired again.