Advertising
Advertising

3 Steps to Fuel Your Creativity and Purpose with Exercise

3 Steps to Fuel Your Creativity and Purpose with Exercise

Image: Brave the run

    Those who know me well know that I have a serious, worrisome, highly problematic addiction. I’m 100% addicted to exercise.

    Seriously, it’s a problem.

    You’re probably asking yourself why that could ever be a problem. Most people try hard to create an exercise habit, and here I am complaining about my compulsion to hit the gym?

    It’s not just my body that is hooked on the endorphins and treadmill-running. I think I could deal with that, if that were the case. But, here’s the kicker — my brain is completely addicted. 

    How could the mind be addicted

    to exercise?

    In my experience, there is no better place to come up with ideas than on the treadmill. I’ll usually be mid-run when an idea pops into my head, and I’ll reach for my phone to jot it down. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a full-fledged project and other times only a string of words. Either way, it’s amazing how running and working out helps me come up with amazing new stuff.

    More than half of the blog posts I write originate on the treadmill or some kind of exercise machine. I may only jot down three or four words while I’m working out, but I later turn them into full-fledged posts when I’m sitting at my laptop.

    This is your brain on exercise.

    What happens to the brain when you exercise? Here are a few facts from Greatist.com:

    • Mind wandering allows the brain to focus its attention on more distant tasks and issues in a unique, way allowing you to fuel your creativity.
    • Exercise can reduce stress, because galanin (a chemical found in the brain during exercise) seems to diminish certain stress-related cravings.
    • A midday workout can help productivity skyrocket (and even boost job satisfaction), so we can quickly gain back those hours lost in gym-land.
    • Besides increasing levels of feel-good endorphins, physical activity may work like antidepressant drugs to alter brain chemistry.
    • Staying in shape can also help us gain confidence and distract us from worries.

    Mind wandering, releasing stress, feeling badass? Check, check, and check.

    Eureka! So, research shows that there is a link between exercise and greater brain activity. Nolan Bushnell explains it like this:

    Get your heart rate to 80% of your ability, and then for the next three hours, just learn something. It turns out that when you are exercising aggressively, your brain is creating BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), ‘Miracle-Gro for your brain. You’re putting in hardware for the software.

    So, it’s definitely not a coincidence. When I’m running or exercising, my brain is developing that BDNF thing, and the ideas start flowing more freely than ever.

    Let’s get you on that Brain Miracle-Gro.

    Image: Brain on exercise
      Now that we’ve established just how beneficial exercise can be to your own creative spice, how can we get you to start benefiting from it?

      Also known as, how can we make sure you start exercising ASAP and start churning out  awesome ideas as a result?

      It’s hard to get into the exercise groove. Everyone wants a hot body and a healthy heart, but actually doing the work is another story, right?

      I’m looking at you, unused gym memberships.

      But what if the result you’re looking for at the gym has changed? Now it’s not just six pack abs and killer endurance. Now you’re looking for the ideas that will launch your life and your career further than you could ever imagine. Now you’re looking to grow your entire life.

      Now — at the gym — you’re looking to find the life you always dreamed of.

      Here’s how:

      1. Aim so low you can’t fail.

      Honestly, could you work out if I told you it would take you only five minutes? Could you say no to five minutes? Because that’s all I’d ask you for the entire first week you start exercising. Five minutes — you can do this.

      I can’t tap into my idea well if I don’t just start running, so I make it sure there’s no pressure involved.

      I find that part of the reason most people fail at attacking the monster that is Getting In Shape is that there is so much fear of failure. So, instead of trying to beat that monster outright, how about we hack the system and make it so there is absolutely no way you can fail? Five minutes a day is doable, and you know this!

      2. Let your mind wander.

      It’s time to disconnect and let your mind go free. This is not the kind of exercise where you are pushing so hard that you can’t focus on anything other than trying to catch your breath. If you are exercising that hard, stop and take a breather. What we’re aiming for is the kind of exercise that would work for meditation or makes you feel like swaying to some relaxing music.

      Stop scaring the ideas away by trying to outperform yourself.

      The ideas definitely don’t flow as well when I’m trying to beat my best mile time. The ideas flow when I’m being generous with myself, and allowing myself to relax into the workout. Sometimes that means I put on slower music, and other times that means I daydream. In very few cases will I put my creative hat on and try attacking specific problems while I’m running. Being out of touch and in tune with the music somehow activates areas of the brain that were dormant just a few hours before.

      Before I know it — bam! — there’s my solution.

      3. Keep a “capture device” handy.

      Whether you use Evernote like me or you prefer a traditional notebook, the magic is in capturing every single idea that pops into your head. It may make immediate sense or it may sound like mumbo jumbo — but that’s okay.

      Some mumbo jumbo idea is better than no idea!

      Ideas lead to other ideas, so the trick is in not judging ideas for not being good enough. For example, a lot of my treadmill time is spent daydreaming about playing the drums onstage with my favorite bands. Who cares? The ideas still flow while I’m daydreaming, so why judge the daydream itself?

      As long as my Evernote is ready to capture that innovative idea whenever it decides to show itself, I’m golden. As soon as I identify some semblance of a blog post or a new project, I write it down. As soon as I feel an important line or new concept coming on, I type it in.

      If nothing gets passed up, nothing gets wasted.

      Guess where I came up with the idea for this post?

      I’ll have you know that the gym is probably my favorite place to be. My poor phone needs a good cleaning, and my husband has resigned to my addiction and decided to work out with me.

      If you exercise, do you feel your ideas soar, too? If you don’t, could it be that you aren’t letting your mind wander far enough away from the exercise itself? If you don’t exercise, do you want in on the idea-grab?

      Forget looking good for the summer. Ideas are so much cooler than that.

      More by this author

      Minimalist Traveling: How to Stay Free With Just A Carryon 3 Lies You Were Told As A Child How to Change Your Life By Exploring Do it Already! 3 Ways to Jumpstart Your Dreams 3 Questions to Ask Before You Quit Your Job

      Trending in Productivity

      1 50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success 2 How to Make a Positive Change for a Fulfilling Life 3 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work) 4 10 Practical Ways to Improve Time Management Skills 5 How to Master the Art of Prioritization

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 13, 2020

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

      In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

      Quotes about Goal Setting

      Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

      Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

      quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

        “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


        “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


        “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


        “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

        Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

        Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

        “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


        “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

        Desire is the key to motivation

          “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


          “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


          “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

          Quotes about Determination and Persistence

          Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

          “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


          “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


          “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

          quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

            “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

            Quotes about Leadership

            Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

            “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


            “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

            Leadership is not magnetic personality

              “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


              “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


              “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

              Quotes for Success

              Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

              Advertising

              “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


              “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

              Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

                “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


                “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


                “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


                “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


                “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

                Sports Quotes for Athletes

                You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

                “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


                “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

                Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

                  “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


                  “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


                  “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


                  “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


                  “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

                  Quotes to Motivate Learning

                  Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

                  “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

                  quote-William-Arthur-Ward-if-you-can-imagine-it-you-can-36189

                    “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                    “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                    “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                    “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                    “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                    “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                    All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                    Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                    “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                    “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                    “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                    “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                    If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                      “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                      “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                      “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                      “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                      Final Thoughts

                      To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                      Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                      If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

                      More Inspiring Quotes

                      Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

                      Read Next