Expectations: The Enemy of Following Inspiration

How do you know if you’re really following inspiration?

What if you’re following what feels like an inspired idea, and things just aren’t working out?

What if things aren’t flowing?

What if the path feels hard and frustrating?

What if it feels like the Universe may be trying to tell you to take a different path?

Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of the feather, the brick, and the Mack truck.

You receive what feels like an inspired idea, a knock, a nudge, a whisper (there are many names for it) and ignore it. The next time it shows up, it’s a little stronger. Every time you ignore it, the message gets stronger.

For example, maybe you ignore a whisper to start eating healthier. And you keep ignoring it, until you finally get really sick (that’s the Mack truck).

So, how do you know if you’re following inspiration or ignoring feathers?

Sometimes it can be difficult to discern, but there are a few things you can do to answer that question.

Recently, I was talking to a dear friend who is in this very situation.

She’s beginning to question whether she’s on the right path. If maybe she’s supposed to be somewhere else. Things aren’t working out the way she expected, and she’s frustrated. I get it. I’ve been there too, more times than I care to admit!

I shared a few things with her that I’ve learned while learning to let go and follow inspiration.

And, while I couldn’t answer her question about whether she was in the right place (only her heart can tell her that), I did remind her that things very often don’t look the way we expect.

While that may mean we need to make a change, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to give up.

My husband and I have been in North Carolina for almost four months. And while I know in my heart we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be, it hasn’t entirely been what I expected.

I felt drawn here because of the beauty and serenity. I love the mountains, spending time outdoors, hiking, and just being in nature.

I felt so clear I would be more inspired to write, and that as soon as we got here I would begin working on the book that’s been inside me for the past few years.

But that didn’t happen.

We’ve done very little hiking since we got here.

In fact, we haven’t even spent much time outdoors.

The first month, I was sick. I caught a cold on our cross-country road trip and it hung on for about three weeks. So, I spent a good amount of time on the couch.

I told myself my body needed rest from the hectic few months before we left. After all, we had prepped our house for sale and a wedding, hosted a wedding, packed up our entire house, and driven from California to North Carolina. Who wouldn’t be a bit mentally and physically tired after all that?

I reasoned that catching that cold was life’s way of forcing me to rest.

And I was OK with that.

I didn’t have anything I had to get done, so I accepted the time to rest and recuperate.

Then we bought a house.

While we were open to buying a fixer upper, and in many ways looked forward to finding a home we could make our own, we took on the mother of all fixer uppers.

We’ve spent nearly every day of the past 2-1/2 months working indoors, gutting and renovating the entire house.

While I feel extremely fortunate to have found this house, this is not at all what I imagined when I pictured our move here.

I haven’t had the time or the inspiration to write.

I haven’t had a chance to get back into pet therapy, which I miss, and I know my dogs miss, too.

I’ve pretty much been eating, sleeping, and breathing renovations.

I’m not complaining.

I’m merely pointing out, as I did to my friend, that just because things look completely different than we expect, doesn’t mean we aren’t following inspiration.

It doesn’t necessarily mean we made a mistake, or need to make a drastic change.

It may simply mean we need to change our mindset.

When things don’t pan out the way we expect, it’s natural to start questioning.

Why is this happening?

What does it mean?

The truth is, is may mean absolutely nothing.

The Universe has it’s own pace, and over the past 10 years I’ve dedicated to following inspiration, I’ve learned that pace is often slower than I’d prefer.

We live in an instant-gratification world.

We’ve been conditioned to expect things to happen quickly, And, if you’re like me, and you’re a recovering make-it-happen kind of person, it can be challenging to accept when things don’t happen quickly. You may find yourself stepping back into make-it-happen mode before you realize it.

Following inspiration is a journey that often requires patience, and always requires trust.

I’ve also learned through experience that there’s always a reason things happen the way they do. It’s just that that reason often eludes us until later.

You’ve probably experienced situations in your life, when you’ve looked back and been grateful something turned out differently than you originally expected. I know I have.

So what do you do when things feel hard and you start questioning yourself?

The first step is to stop trying to figure things out or make them happen.

Then, get quiet and check in with your heart… your gut… your higher self … God… the Universe… or whatever you prefer to call it.

Step away from the frustration, disappointment, or whatever emotions you’re feeling, and just be.


Take a walk.

Hug your dog.

Do whatever you do to clear your head and get in touch with your heart.

Step back and look at the big picture (not your immediate situation).

Then ask yourself:

Does this still feel right in my heart?

Am I trying to force things to happen on my timetable, instead of letting go and trusting that if deep down it feels right, it will happen according to the Universe’s timing?

Do I need to let go of my expectations of how I think this is supposed to look, and open up to it possibly looking completely different?

Ask yourself if you’re where you’re supposed to be, and then listen to your heart for the answer.

This is not the same as analyzing the situation and trying to figure out the answer.

That’s a head game. Following inspiration is a heart game.

When I start to get frustrated in my current situation, I remind myself that three months is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of our lives.

There will be plenty of time to hike, explore, do pet therapy, write, and work.

And who knows, maybe this renovation was exactly what my husband and I needed. A time-out from life; a break from our normal routine.

After all, I was very clear I didn’t want to move all the way across the country just to replicate the life I had in California. I was ready for a change on many fronts. Perhaps this little time out is exactly what I needed to make sure I don’t just fall back into my old life in a new locale.

Ultimately, what I do know for certain, is that expectations are the enemy of following inspiration.

We can set intentions.

We can follow what shows up.

But in the end we have to let go and trust that whatever is happening is perfect, and we simply may not see or understand, just how, quite yet.

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