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Inspiration Is For Amateurs. It’s Time To Take Action.

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Doing your best work isn’t easy. No way around it. Sometimes, coming up with a good idea feels a bit like pushing a giant boulder uphill. It just won’t move.

If we’re being real, creation can be downright painful sometimes. But nothing numbs the pain of doing your best work like a little shot of inspiration. Ahh, sweet nectar of motivation, let me sip thee!

I think the world is addicted to inspiration. Look on Instagram. Look on YouTube. The majority of the material on these platforms is palliative in nature. It makes us feel good about what we’re doing. Even if we’re not doing much.

Why? It feels good to get motivated — even if you don’t do anything or take any action on that feeling. Before you say anything about MY Instagram account — YES, I do post motivational quotes. I’m not saying this type of content is inherently bad. When used as a tool to get work done in short bursts, inspiration can be an extremely powerful resource. I just think that we often mistake the tool for the work.

 

zig ziglar quotes
 

Perhaps the best thing about inspiration is the deep feeling of focus and clarity you feel when you externalize your reasons for doing something and attribute your work to some source besides your own mind. That’s when you’ll catch yourself saying things like, “I watched this video on YouTube and it really inspired me….” Or, if you’re having trouble getting work done, you might say…“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just not feeling inspired today.”

Both of those statements make inspiration seem like it’s something outside of you. Something that creeps up on you, unexpectedly, somehow taking possession of you and finessing you into action. What’s worse, because you feel like inspiration just “happens,” you actually sit there and wait for it. Then, you even take it a step further: you depend on it to get anything done.

Maybe you’ve caught yourself saying, “Yeah, I could start this idea I’ve been thinking about…but I’m just not that inspired right now.” And surprise, surprise, nothing ever gets done.

Why? Because inspiration is fleeting. It’s a temporary feeling, not a permanent state.

What’s the problem?

You can’t wait for inspiration. If you do, it’s not going to come. If it does, it’ll be a welcome surprise. But it’s not going to help you. I mean, let’s think about this logically for a second: what’s the value in only doing your best work when you “feel” like it? That’s like saying, “I only want to go to the gym when I’m feeling good.” Well, DUH!

Of COURSE you want to go to the gym when you feel good. You feel good, so everything you think about seems like a good idea, but what about the days you don’t feel good? What about the days you don’t feel inspired or motivated? What happens then?

Undoubtedly, days of exhaustion, self-doubt and creative slump will outweigh the days where you feel like a modern day Michelangelo. Should you just retire to your quiet corner until a picture of a lion on Instagram spurs change and lights a fire inside you?

No. You can’t let your feelings dictate your behavior. Feelings are variable and ephemeral: they come and go.

Guess what? Your work only counts on the days where you DON’T want to do it. It only counts when you’d much rather be doing something else. The call to your craft is NON-NEGOTIABLE.

When asked how many “reps” he did of a certain exercise, Muhammad Ali famously said, “I don’t know. I only start counting once it starts burning.” The cold reality is that, sometimes, it’s a real struggle to get your best work into the world.

 

muhammad ali quotes
 

That’s why so many of us admire great creators, artists and thinkers but so few of us will ever become one. If you wait to be inspired to do your best work, you’ll be waiting a long time. Most likely forever. Inspiration is not coming to get you. But you can seek it out.

What’s the solution?

Start the work now.

Do it on the sunny days and the rainy days. Stop giving yourself a “pass” to leave your gifts on the table, unopened. Stop allowing yourself the excuse not to create. The ironic part is, as you push through the uncomfortable stage (as all students on the road to mastery must) you’ll find that the struggle actually leads to more inspiration, despite the fact that there was none there to begin with.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

It’s a feedback system. You don’t get inspired, then do great work. You do great work, then get inspired.

When are you going to start taking action? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Sakhile Mogale

    Feb 13, 2016 at 6:34 am

    Your article resonated with me on so many levels. I love the ethos of working on sunny days and rainy days. The commitment to one’s craft is important. Great article!

  2. Toño

    Feb 12, 2016 at 8:42 am

    That’s a great piece of valuable knowledge, Daniel! Thank you so much. The exact idea of addiction to inspiration is close to so many, well for me anyway. I was (and I think in some good way still is) addicted to motivational video, or moment of inspiration and was so dependent on it that sometimes I could just wait for days or weeks to get something done..

    Your example with gym just so spot on as today I woke up feeling lazy, my eye was in pain for some reason, my body wasn’t ready for another gym session thus I immediately thought I may skip this one. However, I decided to go anyway, and felt amazing afterwards! When inspiration doesn’t work for you, you should work for inspiration!

    Great article and beautiful reminder, thank you once again!

  3. Lawrence Berry

    Feb 12, 2016 at 4:11 am

    If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all. I love that quote because it speaks the truth and bridges the gap between a fantasy and greatness. Anyone has the power to obtain greatness if they are willing to put the work in behind closed doors, and like you said in the article, it’s not about whether you feel like doing what you need to do or not, it’s about ow committed you are to the process. Inspiration and motivation is sometimes trusted upon us, and sometimes we have to go out an get it.

    • Stefanie

      Feb 12, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Right, Lawrence. Like your statement “it’s about how committed you are to the process”.
      I’m a climber, I love climbing outside and exploring new places. On the other hand, I know that we cannot move on in our business, if we make the choice to go climbing instead of working on the business. Sometimes, it’s hard to stay inside if the sun is shining and the day is great. But I never doubt the decision to work on getting closer to our goals. I’m convinced that gaining momentum by committing to the process and taking permanent action, it’s much easier to stick to the process than having a stop-and-go-mentality.

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