By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO and Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
When’s the last time you spent some quality time with your muse? The popular notion of inspiration is that it’s something that comes from out of the blue, that it hits when you least expect it. It’s a kind of gift, be it from on high or deep within your unconscious mind. The fact is, inspiration, like any other talent or skill, needs to be cultivated. If you’re stressed and burned out, your muse will be, too.
A confessed workaholic, I’ve come to appreciate that pushing yourself too hard will eventually lessen your performance and erode your skills, not to mention the damage it can do to your physical and mental health and personal relationships. Let me suggest to you that while it may seem like a contradiction or feel like you’re slacking off, scheduling regular downtime for yourself is just as important as the time you spend working.
Think of it this way, when your phone’s battery runs out, no amount of wishful thinking will make it work again. You have to plan time each day to recharge your phone, right? Just the same, you need to plan time each week to recharge your batteries as well.
Inspiration is a very personal thing. Some people draw inspiration from nature, from art, from travel, from conversations with interesting friends and colleagues, or from quiet and contemplation. Whatever works for you, make time on a regular basis to soak it up. Your mind will store it away, look for connections and build bridges. Some day, when you’re searching for a solution or innovative approach, you will slip into the flow, and those images and connections will well up in unexpected ways as inspiration.
If your creative juices just aren’t flowing like they use to, then try getting out of your routine. Stretch yourself, step outside your comfort zone. Learning new things, whether a new skill or new knowledge, especially outside your professional scope, can open your mind to different possibilities and ways of thinking that will bring a fresh perspective to your work.
Just as important as cultivating inspiration is being in the right frame of mind to receive it. Be sure to schedule time as well for recharging, relaxing and rest. Go for a walk, exercise, meditate, or engage in some other activity that gives you joy and satisfaction.
Forget all those stereotypes about suffering geniuses. You’ll find you’ll be more creative and feel more energized if you make the effort to maintain balance in your life. Your muse will be a lot happier, too.