Turning inspiration to action

Inspiration can come from the strangest of places. A powerful video, a moving speech, being in the presence of one of nature’s powerful creations — it doesn’t always take much to inspire us. It arrives in a fleeting moment and can leave just as quickly.

Motivation to start and keep up with it is an entirely different story. We’ve all been inspired at some point, but how many of us actually act on it?

What stops us from taking action? And how do we get past it?

1. The concept of original work

Artists, entrepreneurs and designers have all struggled with the concept of original work. Look up almost any idea or topic, and Google is sure to find a long list of relevant articles. Is it possible to consistently have original perspectives and ideas? And if not, what is the point of saying something that’s been said time and again? With writing, this is my biggest hurdle.

Chris Do recently shared something on this topic that really stuck with me.

It’s arrogant to think you are doing original work. Everything you are doing is a reflection of your life experiences.

There is a lot to be said for learning from what exists already, using your skills to improvise and make it your own. Chefs don’t always rethink dishes from scratch. There are many great dishes that have come about as a blend of many other ideas. Sharing your personal experiences on existing topics could strike a chord with someone. Your story could help someone, or it can be a gentle reminder of something the reader already knew. It could even have the power to inspire them, so they can further pass that gift on.

2. Staying motivated

Starting something new is often analogous to being a beginner and not quite as good as you’d like to be. It’s easy to get discouraged and compare to others, so it’s important to first set realistic expectations.

An excellent piece of advice from Julie Zhou’s article is to initially measure success quantitatively. Instead of being discouraged with quality, set clear goals that can be met. For example, one article per week or three gym session a week. With consistent and deliberate practice, the quality of work is likely to improve with time.

Deadlines are key. Buying more time to act on something often makes us overly critical and second guess everything. Obsessing over quality and perfectionism can often mean the task never gets done, that a product never sees the light of day. There sure is a time and place to be a perfectionist, but be kind to yourself when just starting out. Always remember,

Action beats intent.

3. Acknowledging fear as part of process

Fear and discomfort are familiar feelings we face every time we push our boundaries. That time you travelled alone? That time you went skydiving? That time you wrote an important exam? The key is to acknowledge its presence, take a deep breath and go for it anyway.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” ― Erin Hanson

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Software Engineer at Medium. Sharing my experiences and learnings from moving to San Francisco alone, being employee #1 at a startup and more :)

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