Have you ever had a sudden burst of energy? Not some free-spirited energy that has you feeling like “I feel like doing a wide variety of things today!”, but the kind of energy that is directed towards an interest you may have and is extremely focused? Sometimes I get these types of feelings, and when I do, I’m suddenly inspired and motivated. I’m sure you may have had similar energetic feelings and feelings of inspiration too. Often enough, the challenge with these feelings is knowing how to channel them.
It is not sufficient to acknowledge the feelings and be grateful for such thoughts. While simply acknowledging your feelings is undoubtedly great for your own mental health, the reason we have such feelings is likely because we want to take some action. We feel capable, encouraged and prepared, but sometimes it’s too difficult to take the first step outward and express ourselves. How can we do that?
As I’ve discussed before, taking the first step is hard. Individual context matters a lot in this statement, as similar actions can be hard in different ways for different people. A good first step I take when feeling motivated about something is to write the idea down. I open my notes app on my iPhone and write down whatever thought I might be having at the moment. Lately, I’ve had lots of ideas about blog posts to write, people to talk to, businesses to explore, and products to create at work. Simply writing the ideas down is great for recalling them later.
After you write your thoughts down, maybe they seem too sporadic and not concentrated after all. Take a few moments to refine the idea you’re having. At this point, say your thoughts out loud and see how it sounds. Don’t worry about looking crazy wherever you’re at. I do this a lot and no one has stopped me and openly questioned my sanity. Speaking our mind—even to an audience of one—is great practice and I think we should be open to sharing our ideas more frequently. Sharing them out loud to yourself is step one on that journey.
You might be thinking by now, “I felt really inspired, but now I’ve wasted valuable time and energy writing my thoughts down and refining this great idea that came naturally to me. WTH?” The reasoning behind this sequence of steps: if you’ve taken time to write down your idea, refine it to some concrete level, have said it out loud, and you’re still energized about that idea (aka, you’ve thought it through), it’s time to act! No one ever wants to regret not acting on their ideas, but I bet no one wants to ruin their reputation by taking premature action either.
So, what’s next to do? If you know what action to take, great! Do that. For example, I’m oftentimes inspired to get out in nature and go on a run. There’s not much thought needed there, aside from whether or not to bring headphones. If your idea necessitates that the details are more delicate, such as pitching a new project at your job or investing resources somewhere new, you’re probably better off taking time to think through a few good next steps to take towards your idea.
If at this point you’re asking yourself, “I still like this idea and want to do this, but what’s next?”, you need to find someone who has been there before and can guide you. If you can model out your next moves sequentially, you’re off to a great start! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that for those individuals who happen to be more creative than others, they're often able to express themselves in a way that is more clear to them and perhaps do so more routinely, so this probably doesn’t apply to them. Think artists, musicians, writers, etc.
A good state of “acting on inspiration” can be when we are able to have an idea that energizes us, and then immediately get into this mindset of action, because we’ve exercised this muscle many times before. Outcomes don’t matter at this moment, simply channeling our energy in a positive manner that represents who we are or who we want to be is success in and of itself.