As creatives, we tend to rely on inspiration. Sometimes even too much. We may wait long periods of time to get inspired, and get no work done because of it.
But a lack of inspiration shouldn’t slow us down. We should strive to accomplish our goals and dreams whether we feel inspired in the moment or not. But what exactly should we do when we lack the inspiration that we feel is necessary to be successful?
1. Take a Break
We often grow stressed as we work and it is easy to get frustrated when we feel uninspired. When these moments come, it is often a good idea to take a walk or go get a drink of water. Sometimes your mind just needs a break from all the noise. Much like your body, your mind needs to rest after it has been worked hard.
According to Phyllis Korkki, a writer for the New York Times, there are tangible benefits to taking breaks. In his article To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break, Korkki shares the following about taking breaks at work:
“Employees generally need to detach from their work and their work space to recharge their internal resources…Options include walking, reading a book in another room or taking the all-important lunch break, which provides both nutritional and cognitive recharging.”
Taking walks is one of the most beneficial and relaxing things to do. According to Beth W. Orenstein of Everyday Fitness, walking has been proven to lower blood pressure and improve your mood. Maybe you live or work near a park or nature trail? Perfect! and even if you don’t, it’s always good to get a little fresh air.
In our current culture people are in such a rush to get things done that they don’t take the time to give their body and mind much-needed rest. We must realize that if we don’t rest, our bodies and minds will have no time to recharge, and our inspiration levels will decline.
2. Listen to Music
I love music of almost all genres (sorry heavy metal). Music is something that picks me up when I’m down and often motivates me when I’m feeling lazy. Maybe all you need is a little dubstep or soft jazz to get you out of your creative funk.
Personally, I usually don’t listen to music with lyrics when I’m in the middle of working on a project. Songs containing lyrics tend to distract me from what I’m doing. I often listen to instrumentals or beats from indie artists on Soundcloud during breaks from working. If you use Spotify, I suggest checking out the playlist Brian Food, I often listen to it while I’m working.
While music hasn’t been scientifically proven to impact cognitive processes, it does have a large influence on our emotions. Maybe you’re having a bad day and it is affecting your working ability. Listening to your favorite song might lift your mood and thus allow to be more creative and productive.
3. Rely on Your Discipline
Our culture often sees inspiration as a superior to discipline, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Inspiration is often conditional, we only feel it at certain times. Discipline, on the other hand, is something that is not based on temporary feelings. It is a far more stable foundation.
Mortimer J. Adler put best when he said: “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.”
While discipline is one of the hardest skills to cultivate, it is one of the most vital when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur or freelancer. Much like a muscle, discipline is something that needs to be practiced and worked on consistently.
4. Do some Meditation
I started doing meditation about three weeks ago, and even in that short amount of time it has benefited my creativity greatly. My anxiety had been hindering me from accomplishing my goals, but meditation has helped me relax and given me a sense of calmness. When you’re stressed or anxious, it is hard to get inspired. But when you are relaxed and mindful, it is much easier to let inspiration in.
According to Meredith Melnick, Health Director for the Huffington Post, meditation reduces stress and anxiety and improves cognitive ability. Meditation can literally help us change the way we think and allow us to become inspired more easily.
If you are new to meditation, I recommend checking out the iOS app Calm. The app has a worthwhile amount of free features and the paid plans are inexpensive.
5. Stop making excuses – Just do the thing
More times than not we just need to suck it up and do the best we can. When we have time constraints on projects we certainly can’t wait to be inspired. Rather than searching for inspiring music or videos, we should be diving head first into our work. Strangely enough, working is actually one of the most inspiring tasks you can do. Starting a project is often the only inspiration you need to finish it.
I like to call this the Inspiration/Work Equation, and it goes something like this:
Project you need to do but don’t feel like doing + forcing yourself to do it = feeling like doing it.
In a general sense, we need to work to eliminate the “I don’t feel like it” attitude. Making excuses is the #1 enemy to your productivity and success. If you catch yourself in this mindset, remind yourself that excuses are useless. They are like a broken rocking chair, when you rely on them all you get in return is a sore rear end.
Next time you feel uninspired, try attempting the task or project you are waiting for the inspiration to do. You might be surprised to find that you begin to feel inspiration as you work.