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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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More by this author

How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works) Building Relationships: 11 Rules for Self-Promotion

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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