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How to Wake Up Inspired …

Photo by Simón Pais

Inspiration is typically viewed as something that comes and goes. Some days you “feel it” more than others.

But what if you could be deeply and unconditionally inspired everyday? I bet it would make a difference in the quality of your life. You would probably wake up excited to start your day. You’d get more done, be more creative and feel more of that elusive “flow.” Being inspired also means enjoying the process more, instead of feeling forced and unnatural.

The best part of persistent inspiration is that action tends to be effortless. There isn’t so much trying, rather you’re more simply being and allowing whatever action is natural to flow out from you.

Most of us just wait for inspiration though. We passively anticipate our muse, instead of actively seeking it out.

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

I’ve been experimenting with something different for a while, purposefully taking responsibility for being inspired. For a while I didn’t know if it would work. Inspiration is kind of an elusive phenomenon after all. And even if you choose to look for inspiration, does that mean it will come?

The answer is yes, and no.

Actively creating an inspired state doesn’t work 100% of the time. Sometimes instead you will feel calm, centered and relaxed instead of being filled with electric motivation. And that’s okay.

Here’s the thing though: deliberately choosing to be inspired tends to create a more consistent inspired state over time. That is, the more you flip the switch, the more it becomes automatic and spontaneous.

So the question is… How can you reinforce inspiration, so that it becomes automatic?

I’ve found a few ways to helps this along:

1. Eat inspiration for breakfast.

Who are some of the people that inspire you or have influenced your work? Who do you want to be like, who are some of your mentors? Take some time in the morning to read something they’ve written, or watch a video they’ve created.

2. Reflect on your reasons why.

We should all have deeply emotional reasons behind the goals we set (if you don’t, they might be the wrong goals). Reviewing the reasons behind our intentions help us to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing. Without that purpose, it can be hard to stay inspired.

3. Discard unwanted commitments.

We often say yes to too much. It’s much harder to deliberately choose our projects than to blindly accept whatever comes our way. Regularly reviewing your commitments to make sure that you’re only working on things that truly excite you is essential to being inspired. You can’t expect to be excited about things you didn’t consciously choose or desire.

4. Create an inspiring physical space.

What is it that you truly love to do? What gets your energy flowing and your blood rushing? Surround your physical space in things that will remind you of and reinforce your passion. If art is your passion, make sure your surroundings reflect that. Put up pictures from your favorite artists. Have an easel nearby with paint ready. If your passion is architecture, surround your space with pictures of your favorite buildings, or structures. Let your space be a constant inspirational reinforcement. It only takes a few hours to setup at the most, and after that it’s constantly working for you on autopilot.

5. Surround yourself with inspiring people.

The people you socialize and engage with will have a big impact on your level of inspiration. Choose to be selective about the people you let into your life, and what type of energy they bring to your circle of influence. You can start by following inspiring people on Twitter or keeping in touch with the work of leaders and innovators you admire.

6. Challenge yourself.

The more you move in the direction of things that challenge and make you a bit nervous, the more likely you will find inspiration. You can’t expect to be inspired by doing the same thing every day, following the same routine, working at the same boring job, watching the same boring television shows. You have to decide to follow your passions, engage in the world and choose paths that might make you feel a bit uncomfortable.

7. Create space.

Probably the most neglected of all ways to find inspiration is the most counterintuitive. Sometimes to be inspired, we have to step away… we have to create space and room for our passions to breathe. Spending time hiking and in nature is my favorite way to do this. It’s in the gaps that beauty is found. It’s the empty space that makes a cup useful.

These are all great ways to cultivate a more inspired life, but I think perhaps the most important thing to focus on is the feeling you want to create.

Feeling first, then action

Most of the time we look for the feeling we want to have from or as a result of the action we’re taking. We seek to feel a certain way through the pursuits we engage in. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this approach, it’s just that it can often lead to misjudgment on what goals are truly right for us.

On the other hand, if we focus on what we want to feel first – enjoyment, creativity, connection, excitement, etc. – then we set ourselves up for naturally engaging in action that supports those feelings. Our actions become a reflection of the way we feel, not the other way around.

Inspiration is a choice

Cultivating a life of sustainable inspiration is something that I’m working toward each day. I’m too impatient to wait around for inspiration to fall on my lap, or into my head.

I don’t think living an inspired life happens by accident.

I think inspiration is a choice.

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About the author

Jonathan Mead is a limit-breaking coach, martial artist and trafficker of truth. He writes about self development and living on your own terms at Illuminated Mind.

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35 thoughts on How to Wake Up Inspired …

  1. Jonathan is on fire! ;) Just wanted to say that I love these tips for waking up inspired. I am there about 80% of the time. I think it’s important to also noticed that you’re going to have some “off” days and that’s okay too.

    Honor the cycles.

  2. Interesting. I think the one we most frequently overlook is your #7 Create space. We’re usually so busy creating and getting things done that we forget to stop. And as you wrote, it’s often when you stop thinking that the best ideas emerge.

    I also agree with Nathalie regarding having “off” days and learning to let them pass. We’re not machines.

  3. Great tips! I especially like “eat inspiration for breakfast”. We need those carbs to fuel the day. A lot of new content shows up in the AM so it makes sense to use it, combined with an actual brain fueling meal, to get us on the right track to success.

  4. Great post. Lovin’ it…

  5. Great reminder Jonathon! I especially love the reminder of focusing on the feeling, the end result, and then having the appropriate action more effortlessly appear! Look forward to reading more of your work.

  6. Great advice and interesting posts. I have found that rising early brings me more inspiration, as it gives me time to do things that I truly care about for a few hours in the morning before the rest of the world is up.

    I also have found inspiration by using affirmations and inspiration boards above my desk.

    :)

  7. TheOne

    Seriously,I’m inspired!
    Rock on!

  8. Though this next thought may seem touchy feely, I’d argue to try it first and see how it works.

    Try setting your intention as you’re dropping off to sleep, that you’ll have a restful sleep, and wake up inspired and energized. Imagine, using the movie in your mind, how you’ll get out of bed tomorrow morning and feel inspired, playing into Jonathan’s first point of beginning your day reading something inspirational.

    It’s a technique that has worked for me for many years.

    Great article, Jonathan, thank you for the other tips.

    – Charley

  9. Jonathan, this is a great post! You’ve inspired me a great deal with your words and I can’t wait to take your tips and put them into action. Thank you for your inspiration!

  10. Jonathan, Thank you so much this post.
    I have recently embarked on a new creative project and often am waiting for inspiration to strike. Your post gives me much needed advise on consciously creating an inspired state.
    For me to know the intention why is the key. If we keep that clear and remind ourselves of it, then the words, the action will flow more easily. Especially liked this line “It’s in the gaps that beauty is found.”
    Thanks for this inspiring post, teaching us that power lies within as does beauty . It really is about choice.
    God bless

  11. To add,I love what Natalie Lussier says, “Jonathan is on fire”. Well said, Nathalie and very true. :-) :-)

  12. This couldn’t have come at a better time, thank you for this post! I’m in the process of becoming an early riser, and ‘inspiration for breakfast’ is the perfect way to get things going. I agree with Nathalie as well though, sometimes we have off days; as long as we understand that it’s ok to, we’ll stop trying to push things and end up miserable (or is that only me?!).

  13. @Nathalie: You’re totally right, and I think it’s important to note as well that sometimes inspiration will look different from day to day, or hour to hour. Sometimes being inspired can mean writing like a maniac or having an idea avalanche. Or it can mean simply being incredibly present, and finding inspiration in the beauty of the little things right now.

  14. @Charley: That’s something that I try to remember to do every night, which is really helpful. When I’m getting ready for bed I also try to think of a couple of things that I really enjoyed today, and a couple of things that I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

  15. @Luana: No, it’s not only you. Some days I think inspiration will be more quiet than others. It is still there if we notice it (in the little things), even though it may not be loud and in your face.

  16. Abd

    Great Tips Jonathan!

    I’d like to add two more tips, though your post is truly complete;

    Reward & Punishment Approach:
    Set you goals, set reward an punishment for goal achievement and goal miss. Be selective about the reward, identify what reward would be more pleasing and more inspirational. And set the punishment which would contribute to your endeavor, achieving a goal after punishment would lead to reward :-)

    Enjoy what you are about to achieve, more than what you have achieved so far:
    Whenever you are about to reach you goal, make another goal and enjoy the feeling of achieving the next, bigger and higher goal. I’d say that never achieve the goal, play game with yourself, change the goal when your close. But don’t forget to reward your self on your achievement :-)

  17. S.

    Love the ideas and absolutely do not mean to take the sunshine out of the post but…how do you (does one) compensate for a “partner” that is negative and critical by nature. I find it really hard to be inspired and inspiring (surround yourself with positive people) when the wind is taken out of the sails all the time. In fact it becomes very easy to mirror the bad energy – against the best intentions.

    ps. removing the negative hobbit is not an option.

    peace and love
    S~

  18. “It’s in the gaps that beauty is found.” I love it Jonathan! Inspiration is an amazing thing that certainly doesn’t just grow on trees. When It catches me by surprise I have learned to take full advantage of it. Maybe it’s on a barefoot run and an idea for a new article comes to mind. The second I get home, I dive into it with all the energy in the world. The idea of manufacturing this energy is pretty interesting.

    I think that living “congruently” and in line with your mission, values and unique strengths is one of the best ways to experience frequent inspiration. I just wrote and article today titled The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent. I really think that inspiration, passion and congruence are joined at the hip. Which is awesome since doing one can lead directly to the other!

    Nicely done.

    To Inspiration,
    Scott

  19. Jonathan great questions here making us self enquire. For me continuous inspiration is a sensory thing. Every day my range of senses are encouraged to search for things that inspire them – what touches them, what feels good, what sounds make me dance inside etc. This constant quest never fails to supply a steady stream of inspirational moments and discoveries. That and pieces like this post that unlock doors within. Gracias.

  20. wow!! good post to get inspired :)

  21. Very nice post. I too feel that first hour of your day is important. Make your mind working during that period for your goal.

  22. Jenny

    I would say :I love the post.

    Admire your life style even if not everybody could really live because of kinds of limitations,but ,in everyone’s inner heart,there is always a dream of ideal life just like you recommending and suggesting how to do ,that the reason we love your website.

    :)

  23. Callipso

    I love your site, it really vibrates with my innermost feelings and gives me confidence to go on and spread the good within and out. Thanks

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