Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes
We've all seen it before – the movie where some genius gets a flash of creativity in the middle of the night and then feverishly paints until he has created some masterpiece that we marvel at for all of history. Or the inventor who is stuck on ideas for years until seemingly out of nowhere something comes to her and she goes on to create a company that changes the world.
Yep, that's the narrative of "inspiration first, action second" – and we got to admit, it sounds pretty damn sexy.
I mean, who wouldn't want to sit there until a bolt of inspiration hits them, giving them the motivation to effortlessly go through all the pain, hardship and agony that comes with creating anything of value?
The "inspiration first, action second" narrative is what convinces most people that they should only commit to doing something once they feel a certain level of motivation and inspiration. It makes them believe that if they don't feel it in their gut, then there's no point in getting started.
Remember back to your school days? You probably only became motivated to study for your exam when you realized the consequences of not being prepared and bombing it. Yep, that’s one hell of an inspirational lightening bolt and if I was to bet, I'd bet it probably helped you stay up all night cramming.
But while this whole "inspiration first, action second" thing sounds great on paper (and in the movies), it only really works if you're one of the lucky ones that has inspirational creativity pouring out of their soul – or a test in the morning...
So WTF do you do if you're like the rest of us and don't? What if nothing inside of you is begging to be brought out into the world and nothing from the world speaks to you?
What if you're simply uninspired and stuck?
Well, if you’re like many people, you just sit on your hands, waiting for inspiration to be cast down from the gods above and until then, feel a little down on yourself, wondering why everyone else seems to have if figured out but you.
Just kidding – kinda. But seriously...
If you're feeling stuck, what you should do is "anything".
There's wisdom in the old saying "if you don’t know how to solve a problem, just write it down and your brain will help you figure it out.”
Sure doing anything might seem out of place and a waste of time at first, but the mere action of action itself inspires new thoughts and ideas, which leads to more actions, which leads to inspiration, which leads to motivation and so on – none of which come if we simply sit around waiting for the inspiration to come.
See, this whole "inspiration then action" narrative messed us all up a bit. It told us that inspiration creates action when really it's action that creates inspiration.
First we get started, then we feel like doing things.
As much as we want buy into the narrative that everyone who is doing something great started with a grand master plan and emotional conviction, the reality is that for every one of those there are 10 others who started out with much more humble ambitions – rooted in nothing but action.
So, if you’re feeling like you currently lack the motivation to make some important change in your life, then just go do something – anything really. Use that “something” as a way to begin motivating yourself. Pick up anything that peaks your curiosity and just start.
Sooner than later, you’ll realize that being successful in anything is less about having the knowledge or talent and more about taking action and supplementing the knowledge later. You'll realize that you can become successful at anything without really knowing what you’re doing at first, but you can never become successful at anything without taking action.