“It happens to me all the time”, she said. “I get really inspired about something, decide I’m definitely going to do that… and the next day or a week later completely lose 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 understood. But I was curious how many others would so I posted the question on the Free Range Facebook page asking “does this happen to anyone else” and got quite a response. If you find this familiar, you’re definitely not alone!
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.
I’m not just talking about hearing someone play the sitar, going “I’m going to learn that too!” and then the next morning lose inspiration to learn obscure stringed instruments… I’m talking about the bigger picture:
What if that sort of thing happening so much that you’re just not moving forward with anything that could shift your life in the direction you want to go? What if you’re feeling overwhelmed from the things that you could do (but don’t do) and are starting to wonder if you’re the sort of person who can really see something through?
Well this message is for you. We’re going to take apart what’s going on look at some ‘free range’ ways to approach the Case of Disappearing Inspiration.
3 solutions to “I keep losing the 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 issue: what strikes me is that the language is usually passive: “The inspiration went away”. “It’s just gone”.
No one has told them 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 your puppy, 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 overachiever, like me, because you’ll tell yourself you should be able to sort it out just by ‘thinking harder’. Truth is you won’t. You need to know how to fill yourself up and then commit to doing that when you’re dialing down to low).
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?
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.
My friend 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 their soul – 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 (which is why you need to stop and think about that first) then it’ll be too easy to drop the idea the moment you hit the first wobble.”
1. Know how to generate your own inspiration (and take responsibility for that)
2. Get in the habit of taking action without waiting for inspiration to strike
3. Learn how to generate ideas ‘from within’.
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. However, sometimes too much information at once can be ‘interesting’ rather than effective, so I wanted to focus on getting these 3 main barriers across today, so you can dive into whichever of these felt most familiar to you.
I’d love to know what you are going to DO with this information. One SPECIFIC thing you will do this week to stop the idea-swirling (or the no-ideas-sticking cycle) by taking action on something specific. Share that one thing with me in the comments below or on the Free Range Facebook page.
PS: one thing I found fascinating from the comments on the Facebook page is how self-aware people were about this problem. There is such great analysis on there, 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.
Not one day, not when you’ve figured something out… but as you are, here and now. I know you can do this, and I’d love to hear what you’re planning to do as your first step.