Image by Albund via BigStock
You’re smarter than a simple snake, right?
You rarely start your sentences with, “I wish” or “If only I could find some inspiration.”
It’s a children’s book about a snake named Hank on an endless pursuit for inspiration. He goes to the city expecting to find it gushing from the faucets and falling from the sky.
But once Hank gets there, he has no idea where inspiration is lurking (or even what it looks like).
He spends all day looking for a drip of inspiration and only finds it when he returns home. He could have had this elusive and nebulous ‘thing’ without moving.
The internet, being in nature, or long conversations with friends can feel like that. You know you should be finding inspiration any minute now and that’s it’s going to be a game-changer. But it doesn’t happen the way you expect.
The lesson of this book – you don’t need new external inspiration – hit me hard.
But more importantly, Hank gave me the insight to experiment with existing internal inspiration to see how far it could take me.
The answer? Far. Very far.
Have you ever felt like you needed a drip feed of external inspiration? New inspiration can make you feel alive. But just like a boost from caffeine, it’s a fleeting and endless cycle.
So I’m going to share how you can evolve your relationship with inspiration in unconventional ways. Because the liberation of your time, money, and talent is at stake. And your ability to simplify, organize, and be money wise is also at risk.
Join me on a journey to identify and overcome inspiration overload.
How I learned to tap into ‘internal inspiration’
You’re an inspiring person.
How do I know?
Because we all are inspiring people to someone. And that someone can always be us. A quick story will illustrate my point.
It was unbearable when I quit my cushy corporate job and learned that there were a thousand new skills and mindsets an entrepreneur needed.
After spending two months ravenously consuming knowledge, implementing new systems, learning how to podcast, and finding out how to write things that someone would actually want to read, it simply became too much.
I was inspired all right… to consume even more and find even greater inspiration. I was creating approximately zero value for other people during my consumption binge.
So I decided to test my internal inspiration limits by creating an experiment called the Continuous Creation Challenge. I did nothing but create for seventy-two glorious hours.
Blog posts, videos, book reviews, the foundation of a new product – plus some peace and quiet, new relationships, and incredible sleep – flowed effortlessly.
Better yet, there was no downside to temporarily eliminating reading, watching videos, listening to music or podcasts, browsing the internet, or other consumption.
I inspired myself and – to make sure it wasn’t a fluke – I did another Continuous Creation Challenge for 120 hours. The explosion of creativity, my own inspiration, and creation of valuable tools for others was insane!
You could inspire yourself too. It could be a vision board, reviewing your stash of memorable quotes, or walking around your neighborhood randomly helping people.
None of these things require new or external inspiration. Even better, you might become more inspired when you unchain yourself from the need for a constant drip-feed.
Speaking of drip-feeds…
How to inspire yourself
You’ve scheduled time to create, have meetings, play with new technology, or take action that leads to making money.
But when’s the last time you scheduled ‘inspiration time’ or thought to limit your energy in seeking external inspiration?
My guess is never (but tell me if I’m wrong in the comments).
Inspiration is as essential as it is intangible. It motivates our action.
But inspiration overload is a real threat to achieving our biggest goals. Inspiration could be just one new blog post, TEDTalk, walk with the dog, chat with a pal, or great podcast away.
The search for inspiration is more likely a vicious cycle though. I’ve become an ‘inspiration addict’ before and it can be paralyzing.
So I took steps to reduce my craving for new, external, and endless inspiration. Now, I feel amazing, create more, and am more valuable to everyone.
I’m not saying you have a problem. I doubt you’re broken or need to be fixed.
But wouldn’t you like to need less inspiration to tackle those legacy-building projects?
Wouldn’t you be happier with a system that could guarantee you inspiration from within in whatever dose and whatever category you needed it?
You might need to tweak this to work for you, but here’s how I achieve almost limitless inspiration and reduce the time it takes to light my fire:
1. Curate your existence
Every experience you’ve had is rich with inspirational gems. Whether it’s with Evernote, spreadsheets (my favorite), Scoop.it, or some other tool, you can filter your best, most inspiring experiences and organize them digitally. Blog posts, podcasts, book chapters, YouTube videos, conversations, or any other experience can be archived for instant digital access.
Now you have the superpower to leverage your best experiences and limit or eliminate your need for a constant drip-feed of new inspiration. (I’ll explain more in the comments if you like.)
2. Schedule and set ‘inspiration time’ limits
You don’t leave the time for your showers, meals, commute to work, or sleep open-ended. So treat any need for new sources of inspiration like your other needs. Block off a daily, weekly, or monthly chunk in your schedule for ‘inspiration time’ to find the things that get your motor revving.
Once that inspiration time is up, though, it’s time for action. No more staggering through the day looking for endless external inspiration. If you lack self-control, use a tool like, well, SelfControl to shut out the distractions.
3. Keep an inspiration log
If you have your personal or business goals written down, you can integrate an inspiration log into them. For each goal that you do accomplish or didn’t complete, write down whether external inspiration was the limiting factor. You might discover that you don’t need (or even benefit from) the wild goose chase for external inspiration.
Liberate your potential
Blog posts and social media aren’t a necessary drip-feed to which you always need to be connected. Instead, they’re a source of inspiration as and when you want it.
~ Thom Chambers
What if you never had to drink caffeine again to feel alert?
What if you never had to exercise to be healthy?
And what if you never had to look outside for your inspiration?
The first two questions are beyond me, but answering the last one is possible. You can grab inspiration right now and never need to get charged by someone or something else.
You might still want to get inspired by something awesome. But there’s a huge gap between craving inspiration (as a form of distraction) and wanting to be further inspired to achieve awesomeness.
You can walk an energizing path with your existing experiences and resources. Or you can ceaselessly search for an inspiration destination on the horizon that never gets closer.
Inspiration is at and in your fingertips.
It’s your call.
Over to you
What kind of inspiration have you found most rewarding and long-lasting?
Can you share your methods of lighting your own fire and avoiding inspiration overload?
About the Author Joel Zaslofsky is an entrepreneur who gives instant access to the free tools that he and thousands of others use to simplify, organize, and be money wise. When he’s not helping people do a Continuous Creation Challenge, enjoying nature, working on his online show Smart and Simple Matters, or chasing his son around the house, he’s cranking out useful stuff at Value of Simple to support the liberation of your time, money, and talent.