While inspiration plays a big role when working toward goals — whether you’re writing a book, training to run a marathon or creating an artistic project that lights up your soul — it doesn’t always show up exactly when you need it to. Inspiration can be a fickle thing, even when you love your craft or know your goals. Fatigue, a bad day, family drama or even a preoccupied mind can stop you in your tracks, leaving you feeling stuck and stagnant.
Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” This could be the perfect way to balance your thirst for creativity while still getting work done. When you push forward, even when you’re not motivated, inspiration will find you. Then, you’ll find the rush of illumination you’re searching for.
The question remains; How do you get started when the inspiration isn’t there? While everyone is different, you can employ a few methods to push forward with whatever you’re working on.
While there’s a longstanding myth that inspiration works in fast spurts and giant bursts, the reality is that not much gets done that way. Hustle culture might have you believe that working on a specific project for hours once a month will get it done faster than working on small tasks for that big project each day, but this simply doesn’t work for most people. You need consistency to form a habit; it’ll cause you to fall into a rhythm — inducing a state of flow. This can be especially important if you’re pursuing a more physical craft like athletics or dance.
Sometimes, all you need is a bit of quiet and rest to get yourself into the right headspace. Even if you’re not exactly the meditation type, a few minutes of stillness can be used as a tool to inspire you. There are so many apps, guided tracks and specific meditations available made to trigger inspiration. Try them out and see how they work for you.
While prompts are often synonymous with writing, they can be used for just about anything. Whether you’re looking for something to sketch or you’re coming up with a bassline for your new song, using a prompt can get your creative juices flowing and serve as a guide. Even if you don’t directly use whatever you created with your prompt, it can help you get something unstuck.
Sometimes, you can find pools of inspiration in the content you love. Watching films, listening to music, reading books and playing video games that inspire your own creativity can put you on the right track. If it seems a bit too on the nose, try new mediums you haven’t explored before. What you find might just surprise you.
Whether your goal is artistic, athletic or altruistic, accountability is one surefire way to keep you pushing forward. Your accountability partner can be anybody — and they don’t even need to have a similar goal to yours. The point of an accountability partner is to check in with one another and tailor your experience. When you know you have someone to answer to, you’ll be more likely to push on with your work, whatever it is.
While rewarding yourself at the end of a large goal may seem like the best option, it can also cause you to fall out of touch with your day-to-day progress. While you don’t need to break the bank or spoil yourself daily, setting up weekly or even monthly rewards can give you little pushes along the way. Things as simple as getting yourself a fancy coffee or planning a relaxing movie night can feel amazing when you know you worked hard for them.
If you’re really at a loss, giving yourself a bit of distance can sometimes be the push you need. While it isn’t an excuse to put off your task or simply disregard it, stepping away to do something else, taking a walk or even allowing yourself some space to think about your goals can often remind you why you want to do it in the first place. When you return, you’ll feel much more refreshed, relaxed and ready to get down to business.
While there are a million ways to rouse the inspiration and get yourself to work hard, sometimes you’re truly too exhausted, drained or unwell. The best thing you can do in those times is to show yourself the kindness you would with a friend in the same situation. Know that you’re worthy, even if you didn’t reach your goals today, and that you can always start fresh tomorrow.
Inspiration can sometimes be elusive, and there’s no way to capture it in a bottle. No matter what you do, you have the power to create the magic you need to push forward. Even if you feel uninspired, you can still work toward your goals. When you motivate yourself to keep on going, that’s where the real flow starts to awaken.