In high school, more than anything, I wanted to be an artist. I loved art class; I thought my art teachers were hip; and I loved the story it would tell about me – wearing smocks, going to galleries, and being an artiste.
I worked hard at it, and always got good grades because of my effort and intention, but let’s be real: I sucked at painting and drawing. I had no talent and therefore, assumed I wasn’t creative. Too bad, because I carried the idea that I’m not creative with me for a few decades.
Later in life, I had a boss tell me I wasn’t good at things like writing, and speaking. It’s one thing if the feedback was put forth in a way to help me get better, but this was offered in a such way that told me writing and speaking simply aren’t my strengths, and like art, I should find something else. Again, too bad because I believed it for a long time.
Do you see a pattern here?
We all have big leaps we want to take, and often, we first have to get out of that rut; that groove that we’ve formed with the wrong impressions of ourselves. I’ve done it so many times, I could write a book. When you look at a rock or an obstacle, you will hit it. If you think are not creative; if you think are a bad writer, you will be that.
The more you tell your brain something, the more it becomes true. Just like riding continually in one area will eventually create a path, your thoughts and experiences form your neurons or pathways. The good news is, you can absolutely create new pathways with your own thoughts.
If you’re feeling uninspired, something is up, right? Something is holding you back and you need to reverse it.
Five Inspirations to Get Out of The Rut
What are the grooves you have formed that should be abandoned? Like that foreign language you learned in high school and never put to full use; now it’s gone. Let’s pledge to abandon some of those neural pathways and create the new ones.
It’s as easy as waking up each morning and telling yourself your new groove and then setting about to pursue it.
1. Surround yourself with people who fill you up and make you real. Get rid of the friends who drag you down mentally and/or physically. Keep the ones who make you be better. When I first moved to Aspen in 1989, I was a mediocre skier. All my friends were excellent skiers. I got better fast because I was surrounded by talent and I wanted to keep up. With your limited time for real friendships, make sure each one counts. If not, break up with them.
2. Stop filling up space with activity. I’m as guilty as hell of this. The second my dining companion gets up to go to the restroom I’m grabbing for my phone to satisfy the addiction. Quick. What’s happening on Facebook? When you have a few minutes of downtime, or you’re driving in the car, instead of making phone calls or checking social networks to fill the void, be with your bad self for a minute. You’re not so bad. It’s like we’re afraid to be in the house alone in silence, to drive in the car, to walk down the street with you and your own thoughts. Give yourself time and silence in the gaps, to process what is going on in your world. Think about the bigger things; your aspirations and goals, projects and tasks at hand. Not what’s for dinner, or what he said/she said.
3. Stop reading the same old stuff. You know why you think the blogosphere is an echo chamber? Because you’re reading stuff that isn’t designed for you. It’s meant for others who haven’t read on the topic. Go find new sources. Don’t worry if you tick people off because you aren’t sharing their stuff anymore. Go. Click deeper. There are a lot of amazing writers out there doing things that will inspire you.
4. Lose yourself in some literature. Go get yourself something you’ve never read or haven’t read since high school. Explore Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Somerset Maugham. It’s going to stimulate your brain, and make you feel superior because you have it on your bedside table. Everyone on your Goodreads list will be impressed. It can only go up from there.
5. One more: Inspiration comes in unexpected places. What are the things you love to do? I write about skiing, mountain biking and trail running all the time because it inspires me. You don’t have to work at your work all the time. Do what you love, pay attention, and be present. Use the gaps to process it and let it inform the work you do.
In mountain biking, you have to keep your eye on where you want to go. If you look off the edge of the trail at the raging river below, you will surely go there. Try it next time you’re on your bike. Look off to your left and see if you can keep going straight. (Only do this if there isn’t a raging river below. ) Instead of looking at myself as non-creative, a bad writer, or broke, on the street with my sleeping bag, I looked at myself differently, not accepting those options. Instead, I see myself as totally creative, doing what I love, and being in demand.
Works like a charm every time. I don’t know how; it just does.
Go forth, have fun and may you always keep the rubber side down.[ssba]