7 Ways to Turn Inspiration Into Action
Whether we’re an artist or an entrepreneur, we’re always searching for inspiration. It could come in the form of a book, a movie, a podcast (hint: listen to Justin’s episode – it’s all things inspirational), a song, or an act of kindness – or maybe all of the above.
As long as it creates that feeling, it doesn’t matter. That sensation in our brains and our body that makes us feel that anything is possible.
But the problem with inspiration is many times, it stays as a feeling. It never becomes anything more. It never manifests itself in a new idea, extra effort at work, or 30 minutes at the gym – something tangible and real.
Not only that, inspiration can be like a drug. We’re constantly looking and looking for that high, that sublime feeling of motivation and invulnerability.
We put off tasks because we’re not inspired to do them. And in that way, the rough, tough, dirty work that’s critical to any project or procedure never gets done.
How can we avoid that trap, by not only using inspiration when it strikes us, but calling it from within when we need it?
1. Take Notes
The first step to turning inspiration into action is becoming an active reader or listener.
Don’t just read that book. Take notes. Highlight passages. Scribble stuff in the margins. Dog ear pages.
If you just love that one blog post, print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Doodle on it with your pen.
The idea is to do more than read words on a page or listen to them in your earbuds. Do something with those words. Play with them. Get to know them. Make them your best friend.
That way, in an hour, a day, or a month, when you’re needing inspiration, you can turn to that page in your notebook or skim through those highlights and there it is.
2. One at a Time
Have you ever found yourself watching a YouTube video… and then another… and another… and the next thing you know, it’s been an hour and a half and you’ve done nothing but watch 14 motivational videos?
We all have. But it’s a bad habit.
Rather than spending 30 minutes reading through a list of inspiring quotes, pick one that really speaks to you. And use it. Get everything you can from it.
If you find a hobby that inspires you, pursue it.
When it starts to lose its luster, find another one. But in the meantime, don’t get caught up in information (or inspiration) overload. Don’t try to learn the guitar and how to salsa at the same time.
Take a bite. Chew it up real good. Savor it. And only after it’s been properly digested do you take another bite.
Because the more you try to shove in your mouth at the same time, the harder it is to chew, the less you appreciate the flavor, and the more your stomach’s going to hurt later.
3. Just Do It
Inspiration is great. But if you always need that perfect feeling to get things done, you’re never going to get anywhere.
Sometimes you have to work on little or no motivation. Because you’re never going to be inspired to take out the trash when it’s 29 degrees outside. You’re never going to be inspired to pick up your dog’s… er, mess.
And you’re never going to be inspired to do your taxes either.
But you have to do those things anyway. We all want to do things that inspire us – but we shouldn’t always need to feel inspired to get things done.
4. Write Out Steps
When motivation does hit, don’t waste it. Start planning – whether it’s a business plan or an exercise plan.
And don’t just think it. Write it.
What’s the next thing you need to do? Break it down into small steps to make it more manageable.
Then get to work. Begin the first step. You might be amazed by how much easier it is to start working when you have it all in front of you, broken into small and easy steps.
5. Become an Expert
Think about the last two non-fiction books you read. Or blog posts, if you’re not an avid reader. Were they about the same thing? If not, you’re selling yourself short.
Because it’s better to read 5 books on one subject, then 5 books on 5 different subjects.
Okay, it doesn’t have to be exactly 5. Maybe it’s 3. Maybe it’s 10.
But the point remains. Anyone can read one book on business or marketing or poodles. But the more books on that particular subject you read, the further you separate yourself from other people.
How many people do you think have read 5 books on poodles? Not many, I assure you.
And this technique also helps you internalize the information. You get the opportunity to look at it from new perspectives, gain new insights, and ultimately understand it a lot better.
6. Learn as You Go
Here’s a scenario. You want to start a website, but you’re never done it before.
You jump on Google and start researching. You look up the best hosts, the coolest WordPress themes, the most useful plugins, and how to optimize for SEO.
Three days later, you still haven’t even bought a domain name.
Don’t be paralyzed by perfection or the urge to know everything about everything before you start.
You can learn as you go. But the important thing is to start and to take consistent action. Focus on the next step, not step 4 or 7 or 16.
Buy a domain. And then find a host. And then setup WordPress. If you get stuck, figure it out. If you mess up, learn from your mistakes and try again.
7. Change Your Perception
We live in an age of information overload. There are millions of blogs, millions of videos, and millions of books out there, all accessible with the click of a button. You don’t even have to put the foot rest down on your recliner.
While many of the steps above are designed to combat just that, perhaps the most important thing is to change your perception.
It’s not about how many books you read or Tony Robbins audio programs you listen to. It’s about what you do with that information.
Inspiration and knowledge are tools. They don’t do anything if you don’t use them.
Think about it this way. When you’re done taking a shower, do you keep the water running? Of course not.
You get in the shower, you turn on the water, use as much as you need, then turn it off.
Then why do we read half a dozen blog posts a day without using any of them? Or listen to 5 podcasts a week without applying any of it?
It doesn’t make any more sense to read book after book without really learning or applying the concepts than it does to let the water run when you’re not using it. It’s just a waste, money and time down the drain.
Find what inspires you. And then do it. Don’t worry about the rest.