A Recipe for Inspiration
It’s really easy to head down a series of tiny roads that peter out, causing us to lose steam and motivation and even hope to pursue what we believe to be our true calling. When projects don’t come to fruition and we don’t see the positive fruits of our efforts, this can make us feel not sure of who we are and what we’re good at —which is a little uninspiring to say the least. Well, first know that when you’re lacking motivation, it’s probably in part because you haven’t chosen just one thing to focus on. You’ve chosen many “maybe” things or perhaps 100 “yes, definitely!” things. Despite your passion for these things, I’ve found when it comes to keeping my inspiration going, the best way to build momentum is to just pick one.
Finish it, no matter how much you question yourself through the process. When it’s done, let it breathe. Step away from it and be proud of that accomplishment. Savor crossing that thing off your list; share it, talk about it with friends, whatever celebratory ritual you can think to go through. THEN go on to the next project.
If you start to hear a little voice inside your heart telling you why that thing is dumb or won’t turn out well, tell that voice to shut the puck up. That’s not true, because the fact that you were inspired to create something means that something is great by default. And it will likely make whatever your next project is much better than it would have been without this first one. Know that it’s awesome no matter how it turns out, and once you create something, that thing has immense value because you have breathed life into it. Anything you create? Awesome. Don’t forget it. All creation that is a reflection of the voice inside you attempting to come out is beautiful and of value. Don’t listen to that doubting voice and don’t listen to anyone trying to talk you down. If you find that others mock your attempts, it’s because they are jealous of your inhibition and also secretly doubtful of their own abilities and therefore extremely vulnerable.
Okay, onto the recipe! Grab a blank pad of paper. This is now your inspiration journal.
Write on the first page of that journal “I am”, and then fill in 5-10 adjectives that describe who you want to be. For example, my words are “kind”, “empowered”, “inspired”, “positive” and “passionate.” Write them big, and make them all positive.
At the top of the next page, write “Happiness Meds.” Here, write a list of five things you know will help you get back to your most rational, positive mindset. Basically, calming, centering, serotonin-inducing activities that do not involve drugs. For me, that’s yoga or a hike or cooking.
On the next page, write a large title at the top: “Motivation Goals.” Fill in things that you want to do in your present life that require motivation. Things like “lose 10 lbs”, “finish my new book”, “take an online class”, “finish writing that story”, etc.
On the next page, write at the top: “Passion Projects.” Here you’ll write a list of the projects you’ve got brewing that you’re not sure will turn out but you’ve got a spark to create. The seeds of great potential: the ideas you decided to pursue because something inside you thirsts for that thing to come to life.
On the next page, write a section with a large title at the top reading “Shoot-for-the-Stars Goals.” Here write out your biggest, wildest dreams kind of goals, things like “write an international best-seller” or “direct my first film” or “build an art school for underprivileged children”, etc. Update this list continuously and add to it as new goals arrive in your mind.
On the next page, write at the very top: “If-thens”. Here you’re going to write a list of actions and outcomes that you decide for yourself, now. For example, “If I go to yoga, then I will leave feeling wonderful and calm.” This list can also be literal actions like, “If I get stuck in traffic, then I will listen to a podcast that inspires me or makes me happy.” Fill in as many of these as possible – your “then” should always be a positive.
On a fresh page, start your daily journaling section. Write the date. Here you are going to write three things you’re grateful for, one thing you accomplished today that you’re proud of, and one thing you are excited about doing tomorrow. Great! Now that you’ve got your journal, here is the remainder of your Inspiration Recipe.
1. Choose ONE item from your Motivation Goals list. Pursue that one, and know that you can and will complete it. Put the other ones behind it in order of importance and focus your energy on your ONE. Put thought and energy into how you’re going to accomplish it, do research, and be aggressive toward only that one.
2. Choose ONE item from your Passion Projects list. Put work toward that project every day. Decide on a time increment that you will designate to that item daily and do it no matter what excuse your brain tries to spit out. If you’re literally falling asleep while you work, do it anyway. There is no excuse and no real reason you can’t put at least half an hour toward that thing. Squeeze it out like the last tiny spot of toothpaste in the tube. Yeah, sometimes it will hurt, or you’ll feel like your work isn’t great, but do it anyway. It doesn’t matter. Do it until it’s complete and don’t start on any of the other items until that’s done. If you want to choose multiple items, choose two at the very most, but designate them to separate days. Do not switch back and forth. Put everything else on that list out of your mind as though they don’t exist. Chip away at your ONE (or two.) Work at least 30 minutes everyday – ideally 1 hour. Don’t allow yourself any excuses to get around it.
3. Journal daily. Repeat Step 6 – your gratitudes, what you did well and what you’re excited about. Update your list of “if thens” and “stars” and reread your “I am” list of adjectives. Check yourself and remind yourself to act as this person; take their meaning in and what you want to embody. Know that you are already this person deep down, you just have to remember it throughout the day.
4. Do one item from your list of “Happiness-Meds” everyday. Don’t skip it, even if you don’t think you absolutely need it, partake in your happiness-promoting activity.
5. Get at least 15 minutes of exercise. I highly recommend walking in your neighborhood with a podcast or even a 15 minute one-person dance party.
Let the inspiration begin! As soon as you begin to get distracted by the other crap that formerly seeped into your brain, head back to your list and focus forward. Don’t waste time dillydallying – be disciplined. All that matters is you take action. What you will probably find is the more you accomplish, the more you realize your own power. You’ll also find that the more diligent you are about using that power to take care of yourself, the better you feel, and the more inspired you become.
I sincerely hope this helps you as much as it has helped me. For more about the topics collected in my recipe, see my inspirational references below. Happy Sunday people! xox Sarah
Featured image via Kath Walker Illustration