Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and if possible speak a few sensible words. ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
So What Is Inspiration Anyway?
Usually, it feels like a lightening bolt idea that comes out of nowhere, but some call it a muse while others call it being in the right place at the right time.
By definition, inspiration means: A process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
We all want to be inspired to create something wonderful. A great meal, a beautifully designed bedroom, a stunning photograph, or a unique passion filled business. Trouble is we think of inspiration as a sporadic thing that shows up unexpectedly.
The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can be in the right place at the right time intentionally and not just by “chance”.
So, Why Does Inspiration Feel So Elusive?
Simply put? We don’t invest enough time filling up with new ideas and concepts and taking action on these ideas. It is this new input, and the action we take, that puts us in the path of inspiration.
Remember the definition above, “..process of being mentally stimulated…”? We need to set aside time on a consistent basis to be mentally stimulated by reading, writing, listening, and asking questions.
Are you a photographer? How about following people on Flickr, Facebook Groups, and photography how to blogs.
Are you a cook? Blogs are a great place to start, then there are Julia Child reruns, and browsing through your favorite cook book.
What about an interior designer? Well it’s a great excuse to watch HGTV :), browse through Pinterest and find great little known interior designers whose style you love and follow them.
When we don’t give ourselves a regular diet of new ideas and concepts, our creative ideas start to dry up and inspiration feels hard to come by. You can only give so much if you don’t fill yourself back up. To find inspiration you have to put yourself in the path of new ideas that fill you up and help generate new ideas.
Let’s take it one step further. Another reason we find inspiration elusive is that we don’t always take action on the ideas we already have. If you don’t take action right away the inspiration momentum you have built up can disappear.
So, here are 5 ways to find inspiration:
1) Create An Idea Journal: I bet you have one already, it’s either a list in your head, a file on your computer or a notebook where you jot down notes and ideas. I would challenge you to take it a step further and create a 3-ring binder where you put post it notes, tear out pages of magazines, print articles from the web. How about an Idea Journal Pinterest Board? Pin images of interior designs, recipes, beautiful photography, and typography… anything that stimulates you mentally.
2) Schedule Time To Read & Listen: You need to put time on your calendar to read in your area of expertise. What are you competitors doing, what are customers saying, what is something new happening in your industry. Make sure to also look outside your area of expertise. What else are you interested in? What other hobbies would you like to pursue? You never know where an inspired idea may come from.
3) Write: Make a habit of writing every day. This is a great way to capture all the ideas you have collected. What did you learn? What new ideas struck a chord? What could you do with these ideas? How could you tweak them to work for you? How do you feel about these new concepts? What would you like to try next?
I don’t know what I think until I write it down” ~Joan Didion
4) Take Action: Do something. Action is the catalyst for inspiration and creativity. Try something new, a new ingredient, sketch out a new design, get your fingers on the keyboard and write. Taking action builds on your inspiration momentum and is what you need to keep moving forward.
5) Stop: While feeling uninspired can be a sign that you are not exposing yourself to new ideas and that you are not taking action, it can also be a sign of burnout. It can come from feeling so overwhelmed with everything coming your way that you are running on empty. Now is the time to stop, rest and start refilling the tank. Take a walk, a day off to play, create a brain dump list (get it out of your head and onto paper), take a nap or take a few minutes and unsubscribe from anything that is clogging up your inbox. Take something off your plate or out of your day so that you do not feel so overwhelmed. Say no to distractions and yes to inspiration.
What can you do this week to put yourself in the path of inspiration?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.