Are you living an inspired life? If you cannot quickly identify something that inspires and motivates you on a daily basis and also connect that inspiration to choices you make at home, at work, or in your community, you maybe feeling a bit dull. If having an inspired life seems like too lofty a goal, think again. Inspiration should feel as essential as air and water to living. Without inspiration, life has less meaning, joy, frustration, heartbreak, excitement, and disappointment. If you hold the common misconceptions about inspiration that it’s just for artists or inventors and that it’s really hard to find, think again. Below are three tips to identifying what inspires you most.
Tip #1: Come to recognize and embrace your values. Contemplation about your values can aid your quest for inspiration. This is because personal values are intimately related to how you assess your life and judge others’ lives. A common list of values is presented below. From this list choose your top five values.
justice altruism recognition
pleasure wisdom honesty
achievement autonomy wealth
security power morality
love aesthetics health
skill emotional well-being
spirituality loyalty family
friendship creativity knowledge
One of my most important values is my health. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more appreciative of my health and how it positively – or negatively – impacts everything in my life. Since recognizing my health to be one of my highest values, I’ve committed myself to exercising every day, not just four or five times a week. I may not make my goal every week, but connecting my daily to-do list to my value of health and therefore exercise has added a dose of inspiration to what used to be a mundane workout.
Tip #2: Figure out who you most admire and respect. Create a list of the people who have impacted you positively – from your childhood through your adult life. Add to this list a record of the individuals who you have studied in history or know about through the media and find admirable. From this combined list of worthy individuals, there will possibly be evidence of certain themes. Are there specific characteristics or qualities that you most admire? Are you most impressed by the accomplishments of others or how they treat others? Use these individuals to hone in on a new goal or an area of exploration.
To explain this tip with more clarity, I will share a bit about the historical figure I most admire and how I have connected my appreciation for him to my daily life. Like many Americans, I am a huge admirer of Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately, every semester when I teach a college class about organizational behavior, I am able to share my interest in and reverence for President Lincoln when we read Donald Phillip’s Lincoln on Leadership. While there are many great reasons to laud Lincoln, my esteem for him is primarily generated from his ability to win over others with his remarkable orations. Lincoln was known to be a talented public speaker and much of his success was due to his ability to capture an audience’s attention and persuade them to his viewpoint. After realizing my admiration for Lincoln stemmed from his speaking abilities, I decided to start working on my own oratory skills. I recently joined a local Toastmasters Club and have enjoyed feeling more proficient when speaking publicly – for large and small groups.
Tip #3: Get a second opinion. Have you ever had a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth? When this happens to me, I am very grateful to the kind soul who motions for me to dislodge it. I’m grateful because it’s impossible for me to see it myself and his or her perspective is greatly appreciated. Finding what inspires you most may be similar to the spinach issue in that you may be too close to see it for yourself. Frequently, we assume that everyone in the world values things in the same way or admires others for a similar reason that we do. We just don’t see what is there to be inspired about. Another person’s perspective can clarify how we are uniquely drawn to certain values and people. This second opinion could come from a trusted friend, a therapist, a spiritual advisor, or a coach.
I went to a business coach as I was preparing to re-launch my consulting business under a new name, FRESH Concepts. I was nervous, excited, and had a million things to do with no clear direction. My coach suggested immediately that I plan a launch party. I told him absolutely not. I was not ready to do that and it would be too embarrassing when no one showed up. After giving myself one week to mull over his suggestion, I was thoroughly excited and ready to plan my launch party. In fact, I used the launch party as a way to help me prioritize the needs of my “new-old” business. My coach had given me an inspiring focus.
Inspiration is all around you. Start listening for your personal brand of inspiration – who knows where it might lead you.