Do you get inspired with a new idea… then drop it the next day?


Seemed like a good idea...

“It happens to me all the time”, she said. “I get really inspired with a free range idea, and for that moment it’s the most exciting in the whole world! I’m so sure I’m going to do that thing… then a day or a week later I’ve completely lost interest, and drop it.” 

She shook her head “It’s like one moment the inspiration to do it is on full blast and the next moment it’s just… gone. I’m not seeing ideas through. Do you think there’s anything I can do about it?”

I heard this from someone the other day, and as someone who used to go through this cycle time and time again, I definitely understand:

The cycle usually works like this: you have an idea for a project to pursue and are all fired up one evening… and the next morning (or the next week) the inspiration to do it is just… gone.

Familiar? This message is for you. We’re going to get all Sherlock on the Case of Disappearing Inspiration and find out what’s going on and what to do about it (no personality transplant required):

3 ways to beat the “I lose inspiration to see things through” cycle

The first clue is in how people (like the person at the top of this post) talk about this; more often than not it’s spoken of in passive language: “The inspiration went away”. “It’s just gone”.  

No one told that person they have responsibility (and capability) for generating their own inspiration.  

Imagine the same conversation with the owner of a new puppy:

“Er, what happened to your puppy?”

“Oh its life went away. It’s dead now”

“Wow. How did that happen?”

“I don’t know, it was there one week, and then it was lifeless the next. Seems to happen every time I get a puppy.”

“You were feeding it, right?”

“No… wait, I had to FEED it?”

You wouldn’t do it to a puppy, so don’t do it to your inspiration.

It’s funny: we know we have to feed ourselves, our children, our pets… we know we have to contribute at work and fill that tank… but our inspiration? The one thing we are most waiting for? Oh that should just go fill itself!

No. That isn’t how it works. If you’re not putting anything in, you’re going to end up with a series of lifeless half-ideas on your hands and the RSPCI* on your tail.

*Royal society for the prevention of cruelty to inspiration/ideas. I hear their charter is forming as we speak.

How are you inspiring yourself? How are you filling yourself up? How are you replenishing your inspiration when you wake up one morning and it’s gone splat? I know, I know it sounds so… optional. But if you’re always waiting for inspiration, these are important questions to consider, and then do something about.

And there are things you can do about it. For one, get to know your own refill-stations (as it were) and then you drag your ass over to those experiences when you’re completely ‘meh’ about things and you make yourself do them.

(Note: this part is going to be hard if you’re an independent over-thinker, like me, because you’ll tell yourself you should be able to sort it out just by ‘thinking harder’. Truth is that is not where people find their thing. It just isn’t. This is a muscle that needs stretching like any other).

The second thing you can become that person-who-makes-inspired-things-happen?

Is to stop relying on inspiration alone.

This may sound odd as I’ve just been talking about the importance of generating your own inspiration, but inspiration is not the only piece of the puzzle.

You see the other part of the “inspiration is gone so I’m stuck again” puzzle is the conflation of inspiration with action.

Look again at the person at the beginning of this post. Everything that person does hinges on inspiration. Her whole cycle is happening because she’s a) inspired or b) not inspired.

Why? Because she has bought into the myth that inspiration is the only state in which things happen. Thing is… that’s just not true.

Look at all your favourite writers, makers-of-things, creators of businesses or movements, or whatever gets you excited. Do you think that every moment they create in a state of blissful inspiration?

Hell no.

There are hurdles and ‘meh’ days to any project, and crashing doubts around anything new – the people who see these things through don’t do it because they fail to feel those moments… they do it because there’s a bigger picture at stake here.

No one calls into a job and says “you know, I’m just not inspired today so I’m staying home”. Seeing your thing through beyond a what-if requires you to be your own best boss, as well as your own best inspiration generator.

Dreams are the start of great things. But dreams without follow through can’t create value, can’t create tangible ideas and can’t create freedom or anything you love or crave.

The funny thing is: once you start this approach, and keep with it, the inspiration you were looking for will appear on your doorstep, one day very soon when you find yourself in full flow. After all, inspiration comes to those who do. 

The third thing that might be an issue here is: where are your ideas are coming from? 

This isn’t about setting a goal and blindly doing it. Those ideas you’re uninspired by so quickly – there may be a reason for that. You see, most people at this stage are chasing after bright shiny things: ideas that look so tantalizing on the outside. Yet very few people know how to generate ideas from inside.

But without learning how to that cycle will happen again. And again.

My friend + Ideas Adventure collaborator Selina Barker put this well:

“Getting people to come up with an idea that comes from their core, getting them to pause, dig deep and find an idea that feeds them in every way  – that is what we’re all about.

When you find that, you find a never-ending source of inspiration that keeps fuelling you through the ups and downs of making ideas a reality. If your ideas aren’t coming from who you truly are then it’ll be too easy to drop the idea the moment you hit the first wobble. Which is why you need to think about this first.”

Of course with such a deep issue 3 things won’t cover everyone. There are more issues-and-solutions: such as how we approach hurdles, the ‘endless potential’ barrier, confidence, the ‘scanner conundrum’… and so many more that regularly come up during idea-freezes.

So what I’d like to know is: what action would you like to take off the back of this post today?

Because one thing I’ve learned from my experience, is despite how it may feel at times, the cycle you’re in now does not have to define the rest of your life. But you do have to do something different to get that different outcome.


Marianne x

UPDATE: something I found fascinating from the comments when I originally sent this post out, is how self-aware people were about this problem. There is such great analysis, with smart, articulate people honestly  laying out what’s going on with them… which leads me to write this reminder:

Just knowing the issue isn’t enough. You have to do something about it.

Like lots of things? How to create your ‘right idea’ (+ have it stick!)

Drop your name for my audio (downloaded 10,000 times) on creating a free range idea that sticks:

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  • Helen Lindop

    Three great points, thanks for those. A few other things that have helped me are
    1) Allowing myself to enjoy those exciting ideas for what they are then let them go. I don’t have to act on 99% them, I can just scribble out a few ideas in my ideas book (yes, get one of those!!!) and then leave them alone. Or tell a friend about them, or even pass them on to someone who is in a better place than me to implement them. If an idea is important it’ll come back and grab me later, Usually many times.
    2) Download. Once you get that bright shiny idea down on paper (or screen) you can see why it won’t work. Or why it’s not right for you now. Letting myself edit and let go of what I’m not going to do is essential if I’m going to focus on the idea that I AM going to work on.
    3) Quiet time alone. Often my brain (and house) is so full of ideas, people and noise that I can’t work out what I really want or even make good decisions.

  • Yes! I love point 1 especially. You don’t have to act on EVERY idea – in fact you shouldn’t (as I suggest in point 3!)… but there’s a difference between letting them just ‘be’ what they are by choice, and having the idea-drop cycle run your life. Thanks for raising this!

  • I’ve Got Moxie

    Great insight into something that I don’t realize that I do! This post has helped me to remember that sometimes you just have to get started on something – until you get started you may not really be interested in it anymore BUT once those creative juices are flowing you may find that it is quite a bit more meaningful!

    This week I will START SOMETHING! 🙂

  • Landed here thanks to Everyday Bright. I’m a high idea flow person and I find a few core ideas and stick with them for awhile, but it all drives me crazy. I switch back and forth between all these projects and it takes FOREVER to finish any one project. I’ve got tons of half finished things everywhere – a sewing project that is waiting on just a few steps, cabinet doors that need just one more coat of paint, Christmas ornaments that just need hangars, etc. I do get a ton of stuff done, but the ratio of finished to in progress is all wrong.

    I’ve just recently realized that I like to feel productive and when I get stuck I’ll just pick up one of my other things. Thing is if I could just work through that stuck and get back to the project right away instead of months later, I might actually finish off more things. Also not starting more things and being more aware of what projects are in progress.

  • Ruth Louise Randall

    As someone who is having a ‘meh’ day today, I admit I often lose my momentum on a project. My method is to accept it, allow myself a few hours or even a day, not beat myself up over it, then get back on it the next day. Sometimes ideas come from taking a step back when you need to.

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