One of my tribe members recently sent me the following questions. I, too, have struggled with feeling uninspired in the past, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. So I wanted to answer her questions publicly. This is a longer post, because as I started writing I realized I had a lot to say on this topic. I hope you’ll bear with me. I believe it’s worth reading.
What do you do when hitting an uninspired dry spell? How can I stay inspired within myself regardless of external circumstances? I go through these phases when I don’t feel very inspired and need to figure out how to get my mojo back during these times.
Misconceptions about Following Inspiration.
I used to think if I was following inspiration I would always feel good. Things would go my way. I’d sail through life on a cloud of inspiration.
At times, that is what Living Inspired feels like.
But after 10 years of working to live more inspired, I also must admit there are a lot of times it does not feel like this.
Those times when things don’t seem to be going my way. When my business ideas have flopped. When I feel like I’m working really hard and nothing is working out. When I’m losing money and losing hope.
This has all happened when I thought I was following inspiration.
It used to throw me for a loop. I thought I had fallen off the inspiration wagon. Gone back into my head and stopped following my heart.
I used to beat myself up about it, too.
Why couldn’t I keep on Living Inspired?
Where were all the good inspired ideas that were supposed to make my life easy? The path that would flow like a river, guiding me to my dreams?
Until a few years ago, when I realized that despite the ups and downs I’d experienced, I really was always following inspiration. It’s just that I had an expectation that if I was truly living inspired, everything would always work out. I wouldn’t take missteps. My inspired business ideas would always lead to success. And my life would be a bowl of cherries.
I realized everything I’d been through had happened for a reason.
The good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. It was ALL part of my inspired path. It was such a huge aha I wrote about it on this blog back in 2012: Turns Out I’ve Been Following Inspiration All Along.
The other thing I’ve realized since then is that when you step onto the inspired path, you have to be careful not to get too caught up looking for inspired ideas. You also have to be careful not to hold on too tight to an idea. And, you have to be mindful not to take one inspired idea and lock onto it with anticipation of where it’s going to lead and how it’s all going to turn out.
This is especially true in business.
Our natural inclination when we get an idea for an inspired business is to get excited and want to run with it, fast. We let ourselves get attached. Particularly if we’ve been wanting, or trying, to create a business for a long time. Or, because we’re so excited about the idea’s potential.
The cornerstone principle of Living Inspired is Let Go & Trust.
That means not getting attached, as hard as that can be sometimes. Instead of locking into an outcome you’ve imagined, try to stay present. Stop looking for more inspired ideas to show up. Stop anticipating your next step. Just be OK exactly where you are. In fact, relish it… enjoy it… make the most of it.
I know, that’s easier said than done.
I still get caught up sometimes. But I also know when I’m able to let go and follow where I’m being led, I always end up someplace ten times better than I could have dreamed up in my own mind.
We also need to recognize it’s just one idea.
A truly inspired business, or life, is made up of a series of inspired ideas. Not one idea that changes your trajectory and that you then run with on your own. You have to let inspiration mold your life or your business. You have to follow the steps, one at a time, as they show up. And sometimes, the original inspired idea doesn’t pan out the way you expected. In fact, it may even morph into something completely different.
As I’ve discovered, sometimes that inspired idea you thought was IT, was just a stepping-stone to something else.
This happened to me last year.
I was walking my dogs one day and the idea of writing a book about Meaning at Midlife dropped into my head. It felt so right. I had been searching for direction for over a year and I was anxious to find my new purpose. I knew I was ready to move on from my marketing business but I wasn’t clear what I wanted to do next. So when this idea came, it was a huge relief. I finally had a direction. I was excited. It felt like what I had been waiting for.
So I ran with it. I was so energized.
I created a new blog. I started writing. The words were flowing… until they weren’t. After a few months, I wasn’t inspired to write anymore. I felt like I’d said all I had to say. I was baffled. How could the idea that felt so right, dry up so quickly?
The inspiration was gone.
So I let go. I gave myself some space. I didn’t try to force it (which is definitely something I would have done in the past). I just let it be. I spent more time doing volunteer pet therapy and gave myself, and my mind, a break from trying to figure out what was next for me, work-wise.
I took a time out.
Anytime we find ourselves hanging on too tight, looking for inspired ideas, or wanting an inspired business idea to work out a certain way, it probably means we’re in our head. We’ve stepped out of our inspired heart space, and planted our feet firmly in our head. The place we try to make things happen, instead of the place we allow things to happen.
Inspired ideas come in all shapes and sizes.
It can be easy to look for inspired ideas in a certain area of your life. For example, if you’re building an inspired business, you may constantly be looking for the next inspired idea for that business.
But you may not get inspired ideas every day for the business. And that can be instructive. Maybe you’re holding on too tightly to building the business and the Universe sends you an inspired idea leading you to focus on something else. But if you’re only expecting inspired ideas related to your business, you could miss it all together.
For example, while I get a lot of inspired ideas related to my work, they’re not the only ones I get. So I try to remain open to any ideas that come my way, and to follow those that feel right.
This week I had a pet therapy visit scheduled for my younger therapy dog, Faith. It’s a visit to a nursing home that I used to take my other dog Hope to, a couple years ago.
But Hope made it clear after visiting there for about a year, she didn’t want to go anymore. So we stopped visiting. When I got Faith certified last year, I started taking her on this visit. But yesterday, it became clear I was supposed to take Hope. Of course, that didn’t make sense to me. Hope doesn’t like going to nursing homes.
But the feeling was strong.
So I knew I had to take Hope. When we got there, Hope was excited. She was happy the entire visit, tail wagging and walking up to say hi to all the patients and staff. And looking up at me repeatedly in the way she often does, as if to say, “thanks for bringing me here, mom.”
I still don’t know why I was supposed to take Hope today. It was an uneventful visit other than her having a great time.
But, it was a good reminder that when we are open, inspired ideas can show up in any area of our life. Sometimes they’re great big ideas that put our life or business on a whole new path. Other times they may only influence how we spend an afternoon.
My point is I believe they’re all part of the bigger picture.
I’m sure at some point I will understand the reason I was supposed to take Hope today. For all I know it was just so I’d have an example for this blog post, which I knew I wanted to write today!
To sum it up, here are my answers to the questions posed…
What do you do when hitting an uninspired dry spell?
Get out of your head. Chances are the inspired ideas are still showing up, you just may not be seeing them because you’re expecting them to look a certain way.
Take a time out. Be patient. Ask yourself if there’s anything you might need to clear out, to open up space for something new to come in. And remember that sometimes, things just take time. Keep your heart and your head open and simply allow life to come to you.
I’d like to point out that I had a good year of waiting and being patient before my Meaning at Midlife idea showed up. And then probably another six months after that idea stopped flowing until I got clear I needed to close my marketing business. Once I closed that business (read: cleared out what was taking up space) this Live Inspired project showed up within a week. I couldn’t have rushed any part of this process. It all needed to unfold exactly as it did.
How can I stay inspired within myself regardless of external circumstances?
Get out of your head and into your heart. Recognize you can’t change things outside of yourself (and that includes other people), but you do get to choose how to respond. One of my favorite mantras is, “It is what it is.” You don’t have to let life’s circumstances take you out.
Go out and have some fun. Do something you enjoy. And, find ways to connect with your higher self. For me, that includes meditating, journaling, running, walking my dogs, and getting out in nature, most of which I do every single day. And honestly, sometimes it just means shutting my brain off and not trying to figure things out.
I go through these phases when I don’t feel very inspired and need to figure out how to get my mojo back during these times.
There is nothing to figure out. If you’re trying to figure out how to do something, you’re not living inspired. Let go of trying to be or do anything. Just allow whatever is, to be. Maybe you’ve been pushing too hard and your soul just needs a rest.
I find if I push myself too hard, the ideas stop flowing. I’m not sure if they really stop, or if I just don’t see them because I’m trying too hard to make things happen. But I’m open to the idea that perhaps they have indeed stopped, in order for me to give myself a break.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living inspired, and about building an inspired business in particular, it’s that you have to let it unfold in its own timing. We tend to get excited and impatient and want it to happen quickly. I think it’s important to trust if it’s not happening quickly (or as quickly as we’d like) there’s a good reason for it.
If we can slow down and allow things to unfold, we can enjoy the ride, and feel confident we aren’t pushing the idea down the path we think it needs to go down. Instead we can allow the idea to unfold exactly as it’s meant to.
P.S. An interesting side note to this post. As I sat down to post it on my blog, I fired up Pandora to listen as I was working. And the first song that began playing was called “Letting Go.” Just another example of synchronicity. When you’re paying attention, this kind of thing happens every single day. No, it’s not a big inspired life-changing idea. But I see it as reinforcement for where I am. And today, that’s writing about, and reminding myself and my readers, to let go and trust.