Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you all have some fun plans for the weekend. I will be hanging out with some family and, despite my apathy toward who wins, will definitely be watching the big game on Sunday. Maybe apathy is not the right word – I will say that if the Giants win then I will be excited for the Packers to beat them in game one next year… 😉
Today’s #FebPhotoADay is hands. I’ve been going on impulse so far with regard to what springs to mind, and the first thing I thought of this time was a picture from our wedding day. It’s one of my favorites and is on the first page of our wedding album.
Speaking of impulse and inspiration, I am thrilled to share a guest post today from Lauren Levine. If you happen to read my other blog, Pursuing Our Passion, you’ll already know how amazing her advice is. The response was so positive that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you, too!
I first “met” Lauren back in November, when she commented on the truth to my business partner Jill’s post on wanting to be treated like an adult at work. Since then, I’ve been an avid reader of her blog, Life with Lauren, which showcases her talent and passion for writing while discussing topics that are interesting to all of us: friendships, relationships and ways to create a new identity for yourself once you’ve graduated from college, among others.
When Lauren offered to write a guest post for us aimed at discussing the ways she finds inspiration every day, it was a no brainer! As someone who understands all too well the frustration of those days where you just can’t put pen to paper, I was eager for her tips. It’s no surprise she’s right on the mark, and you’re going to love her advice!
10 Easy Ways to Feel More Inspired
There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a blank Word document just waiting for a good idea to come your way. That bright screen is full of possibility, but it’s so hard to get started. Even if you’re not a writer you know that “blank screen” feeling. You want to create something, you know it’s somewhere in there, but you just can’t quite get inspired. The good thing about the “blank screen” feeling is that it usually doesn’t linger for long. You’ll be in a meeting or waiting for the elevator and suddenly a great idea will just come to you. But if you happen to be in need of a little inspiration, here are ten ways you can kickstart your creative urges and banish the blank screen forever.
1.) Jot your thoughts: My friend is a songwriter and he literally never goes anywhere without a mini tape recorder. That way if he comes up with a song lyric or melody he can just speak/sing it into the tape recorder and not run the risk of losing it. You can do the same thing with a notebook or even the “Notepad” section on your phone. Just have someplace where you put all of your ideas so you don’t have to rely on your memory. You never know what thought or phrase will end up becoming important for future projects.
2.) Give your mind a break: When you’ve had inspiration strike in the past, where did it happen? Probably in the shower or while you sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic, right? I had a great idea the other day as I was sitting waiting (and waiting and waiting) for my plane to take off. A traffic jam and your shower may seem unrelated but they actually have something in common: while you’re there your mind is free to wander. Your brain isn’t forced to remember things, (over)analyze something your boss said, or try to be creative in a non-creative mindset. When your brain is on overload it’s hard to get it to pump out something witty. But give yourself a chance to zone out and all of a sudden you’re full of fabulous thoughts. It’s kind of like that (annoying) advice your friends give you about meeting someone, “You’ll meet someone great! You just have to stop looking!” You’ll find inspiration as soon as you stop making your brain work too hard.
3.) Say goodbye to stress: When you’re stressed, you’re just trying to get through the day. It’s like survival mode. There’s no room for any type of thought other than, “This must get done. Now.” That’s why stress management is so important if you want to see an increase in inspiration. Practice yoga or meditation. Stay super-organized. There is nothing worse than having to scramble frantically through dozens of files just to get through your work day. Delegate tasks when possible. It’s also a good idea to write down your “to do” list for the next day before you go to sleep. That way you’re not lying awake thinking, “Okay, I absolutely can’t forget to call Susie tomorrow.” You can free up your mind for more inspired thinking.
4.) Stop judging yourself: As Sylvia Plath once said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” If you want to get creativity going, put something out there without worrying about exactly how it looks or sounds. For example, if you’re a writer, write without worrying about punctuation or choice of words. You can go back and review that stuff later. If you’re a singer, just sing! If you’re constantly worried about making each note perfect you’ll feel stifled. It’s easy to be your own worst critic. Let yourself enjoy the process. Don’t worry about perfection right away.
5.) Find inspiration in anything: You don’t need a million dollar idea or a stroke of genius to write a great article, come up with a solid business plan, or sketch a beautiful illustration. Use your everyday life to inspire you. What makes you happy? What makes you mad? What would you like to change about the world? What do you want to know more about? What advice can you offer to other people? What do you hear people talking about? Use these questions to trigger ideas.
6.) Study others: What better way to feel inspired than to study others who are doing what you love? Read a blog about your passion. If you’re an artist, go to an art museum or local art show. If you’re a writer, read a book by a terrific author. If you’re a fashion designer, go to a fashion show. Observe others who are practicing your craft well. If you can connect with other people in your industry, that’s even better. Social media makes it easy to do this. Invite someone you admire out for coffee, send a tweet, connect on LinkedIn, put yourself out there.
7.) Make your space inspiring: Nothing squashes creativity more than a “blah” space. Boring white walls, a cluttered desk – these things don’t lend themselves to ground-breaking ideas. I used to hate spending time at my office at work and I couldn’t really figure out why. Then I realized it was because I’d inherited the space from someone who had left it in bad condition. The paint was peeling and I was left with a huge set of plastic shelves that looked like they should be holding American Girl dolls. The office did not exactly ooze professionalism or creativity. I quickly ordered some posters, printed some pictures, and got rid of the charming shelves. I’ve also created a mini “inspiration board” which is where I put pictures of people I admire and things I’d like to achieve. The board helps motivate me and makes me feel good when I need an extra boost of energy. Think about how your work space is making you feel. If it’s anything other than excited, it’s time to make some changes.
8.) Cut out negativity: Negativity does not lend itself to productivity. When was the last time you met someone who complains all the time but is also determined to make things happen for him/herself? Probably never. Even if you have a terrific attitude, the people around you have a sneaky way of rubbing off on you. Be picky about who you spend time with. Your friend who has a “crisis of the day” every day is probably wonderful but may be zapping your energy and optimism. You don’t need to cut her out of your life, but you also don’t need to spend an hour on the phone with her every time she calls. Sure, many of the greatest artists of all time were tortured souls, but don’t you just feel like kicking ass and taking names when you’re surrounded by other happy people? No need to dwell on negative thoughts or pessimism.
9.) Make time for your hobby: This sounds easy, but it’s important. When you have a to-do list that’s a mile long it’s easy to put your passion at the bottom, especially if it’s not making you money…right now. But focus less on the money and more on the fact that this thing makes you happy. Everyone needs to do something that creates joy during the day. Even if you can only write for twenty minutes or practice piano for half an hour, make sure you schedule that time in just like you would schedule in a doctor’s appointment or a trip to the store. You’ll feel more inspired and motivated about your passion when you’re actually devoting steady time to practicing it.
10.) Chart your progress: I recently discovered a site called Ohlife.com, and I’m obsessed. It’s basically an online journal and a progress checker. Every day it e-mails you and asks you how your day went. You reply to the e-mail with as much or as little text as you want. This site is perfect for someone who’s trying to achieve a goal or get better a skill because it makes you feel accountable. Every day that little e-mail is sitting there asking you about how things went. You don’t want to let it down by telling it you did nothing related to your passion today. The site also reminds you of past posts and lets you read through everything you’ve written. It’s a great way to see how far you’ve come and also to see where you need to keep focusing your energy. The fact that it’s all done through e-mail is nice because it’s not time-consuming. You can set the prompts to come as often or as infrequently as you’d like, but I like to do them every day. It’s a free service, so check it out!
Feeling uninspired from time to time is completely normal. Even the best writers, artists, designers, and musicians hit a slump at some point. But if you find inspiration in everyday life, get rid of clutter in your living space and in your mind, and let yourself enjoy the creative process, you’ll be able to shake off that “blank screen” feeling for good.