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Lifehack.org Readers Respond: What’s Your Inspiration

Lifehack.org Readers Respond: What’s Your Inspiration
What Inspires You?

Last week, I asked lifehack.org readers:

Lots of people are starting to think about the New Year and what they’d like to accomplish. What they could use is a bit of inspiration, so what that in mind: What inspires you?

As always, your answers were insightful and thought-provoking, and pushed a little bit beyond what I had thought I was asking — forcing me to rethink my own answer.

When I wrote the question, I intended to reply by describing some of the everyday things that spur new ideas for me. For instance, I read a lot of blogs,magazines, and books about writing, and while I rarely find any advice I can use directly, what I get out of them is the energy and drive to sit down and write. I suppose they make me feel like a writer, which in turn makes me act like a writer, by writing.

Some of you shared this source of inspiration, or something much like it. Ryan, for isntance, wrote:

My source of inspiration comes from creating a positive environment around myself by frequently reading books on topics like business success, wealth creation, inspiration, self improvement, browsing sites like lifehack.org, putting up inspirational posters around the house and office, and listening to motivational podcasts! I believe that surrounding myself with such materials keeps me motivated and inspired to achieve my goals!

Chris also found inspiration in books, particularly Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick (which I am also a big fan of):

This book explores why some ideas we remember and other ones we forget and then tries to teach how to communicate more effectively so that what we say sticks.

I am trying to figure out how to apply it to the group I manage at work, in my podcast, in my blogs, etc.

A couple of readers found their inspiration in the words of the greats. Gadget Badger says:

Especially those I admire the most, like Gandhi (”you must be the change you wish to see in the world”), and B Franklin(”Observe all men; thy self most”).

Andrew’s even put up a page full of motivational quotes.

A few of you looked into the question al little deeper and pulled out a human element I wasn’t thinking of when I wrote it. For example, Salawi says “What inspires me are the real success stories that I hear every day.” Pelf, too, wrote of being inspired by others’ successes:

I am a grad student, and whenever I spend time getting to know a lecturer or a Professor, I am inspired by their success stories, and I tell myself that I want to be like them one day.

This reminds me of something my father used to say to me (and that I used to blow off, which is maybe why he stopped saying it…). He’d tell me that to be successful, the most important thing is to surround yourself with successful people. I’m pretty sure he meant that the best thing to do is to learn from people who are already successful, but now I think there’s something else: the success others enjoy motivates and inspires us — especially when we see how very little divides us in all out humble humanity from the successful people, in all their humble humanity.

Rebecca finds her inspiration not from others’ successes but from setting up her own, using the idea of SMART goals (see the first tip):

My resolutions are based on a measurable, achievable and near-term (6 months in this case) goal that is a step on the path to something larger.

I used to make resolutions about losing weight or getting in shape, but frankly they would fall apart every year. This year my resolutions are in support of a bigger goal, but broken down into reasonable chunks that let me see clearly what I am working toward and what the world will be like when I get there.

But what really got me were the people who reached deep inside and found their inspiration in the goals and purpose that shape their lives. For example, Steve Nguyen finds inspiration in helping others, and in doing it well enough to build his career and life around:

My inspiration is my desire to want to help people become better in their lives and in their jobs, in particular, those in the academic fields (e.g., teachers/professors). My inspiration also comes from my pursuit of the freedom to one day be my own boss – to be able to run my very own consulting business.

What gets me up everyday is loving my job and loving the idea that I get paid to work to help others & to help guide them through the challenges in life. That, for me, is so satisfying on so many levels.

That’s a quote I’d hang on my wall!

And Phil describes a process of self-examination similar to one I worked through myself this year (and that ultimately led me to start writing for lifehack.org):

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I had a bit of a career setback earlier this year and spent some time over summer thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life. I drew up a list of the things I most enjoyed doing at work, and those I least enjoyed. Then I decided to try to earn my living from doing those I most enjoy, whilst either eliminating or better managing those on the other list.

For me, writing came out top, closely followed by education and coaching. The upshot was that I’ve started work on co-authoring a website dealing with happiness in the workplace.

Inspired by Steve and Phil, I want to talk reconsider my own answer. For me, inspiration comes from the lives I touch — and hopefully help to make a little bit better. As a teacher, it comes from the students who look to me for answers — whether to academic questions or just the questions young people have about life. As a step-parent, it comes from the children who look to me for guidance, acceptance, and love. As a writer, both here and in my academic work, it comes from the readers who find a way to deal with a problem. As a partner, it comes from the woman whose life I share. It’s not so much that these people count on me, but that they have, for a variety of reasons, chosen to involve me in their lives, and to work with me in creating our shared humanity.

And that’s pretty inspiring.

So inspiring, in fact, that I’m going to do a favor for Kevin, the commenter who said he found his inspiration in proof-reading, pointing out a spelling error in the question as it was first published. For his inspiration, I’ve corrected that error in this post — but purposely left a new spelling error!

Hope it helps!

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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