The importance of inspiration

Everyone has a list of things they’d like to do before they die. Maybe it is to write the next great American novel, act in a play, see the pyramids, start a business. Far too often we put these off for “later, when I have time.” Meanwhile life slips by. We rush from obligation to obligation, and at the end of the day we’re too tired to do much more than flop down on the couch and decompress for a couple hours in front of the television.

The problem is that we could fill three lifetimes with work and household chores and still not be done with everything we’re “supposed to do.” In other words, we could spend three lifetimes on tasks that are less important to us, and less meaningful, than our dreams and passions. But it is our dreams and passions make us unique, not our jobs, not our ability to wash dishes or pick up dirty laundry. You may be wonderful at your job, but chances are you didn’t create your job. You may have molded someone else’s description into a job that fits you, but at the end of the day someone else could still take over and the organization would continue functioning. Your dreams and passions, on the other hand, are unique to you. Even two people who share the same overarching passion will find differences in the details, because our dreams are defined by life experience and personality.

To honor our dreams and passions is to honor what makes us unique. This means acknowledging our dreams and actively pursuing them. It may feel impossible to carve out time for them, but I’m sure you can think of a couple minutes ach day to devote to them. Pick one. Start small. Give your dreams half an hour a day, or fifteen minutes, or even ten or five. Aren’t they worth it? Aren’t you worth it?

Just start. Think of fifteen minutes you can squeeze into your day. Maybe it’s during lunch. Maybe it’s right after dinner when the TV shows aren’t that good anyways. Or maybe it means setting the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier and starting your day off on a positive note. It’s helpful to identify a consistent time each day. Think through the small details – where you’ll be, what supplies you’ll need, ways to avoid distractions and other obstacles. Make the commitment in writing, tell a friend.

Inspiration is the starting point. Inspiration is the day-to-day reminder to work towards the big dream, and why it is so important. It is also encouragement, a source of new ideas and solutions to the problems we encounter along the way. Inspiration is the flashes of insight into how you will carry out the dream – it is the seed of an idea, a novel new approach, the way around a stumbling bock. Inspiration keeps us moving forward. It reminds us to stay balanced and stay focused on what’s important.

Most of all, acting upon inspiration is exciting. Acting on one good idea unleashes a wellspring of new ideas that tumble forth, pile up, cross-fertilize to create even better ideas. You’ll notice this spill over into other areas of your life. Work won’t feel as tedious, and inspiration will help you find faster ways to get work done, or new ideas to contribute at meetings. It gives you something to look forward to as you do your chores. As your project grows and develops, it encourages a broader shift in thinking: what is worth my time? Am I enjoying life? Can I reshuffle my obligations to increase the time I spend on the things that matter? This creates an even larger snowball effect. Acting on inspiration leads to working on our dreams, which inspires new ideas and possibilities that lead to even more time and energy spent on our dreams, which leads to even more ideas and positive energy.

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