Ask Celes – What Do You Do When You Feel Uninspired?

Ask Celes

Hi Celes, life is the result of the emotions you feel from moment to moment (resulting in the connectedness to a wonderful life). What do you do when there are the moments where it feels “dry”? ~ Michel

How do you deal with loss of motivation? ~ Charu

I firmly believe that all of us have access to an infinite pool of inspiration. When we are tapped into our inspirational source, we will be in a pinnacle of inspiration and constantly have a flow of ideas. When we aren’t, we will feel dry, uninspired, and unmotivated, just like how people would feel when they are in a rut or a mid-life crisis.

The thing is, contrary to popular belief, whether we are inspired or uninspired is something that is entirely within our locus of control. Most people think that inspiration is about being in the right place, with the right people, and in the right moment, but it really isn’t. Inspiration is simply about (a) knowing what your inspirational sources are, and (b) knowing how to channel into them. As long as you stay connected to your source, you can perpetually be in a state of inspiration, or “flow”, as some would call it.

For example, connecting with people is one of my inspirational sources; I simply love meeting people and connecting with them. (I guess it’s not surprising given my life purpose is to grow and help others grow.)

There was a time earlier this year when I was spending a fair bit of time in my home office and spent very little time meeting people. I soon felt drained, edgy, and unhappy, which in turn spilled over to my work and made me unproductive.

After realizing my rut was the result of not having enough social contact, I made a point to have at least two to three social appointments a week. Just last week, I was a part of three social events, two group gatherings, and seven one-to-one in-person appointments (work and personal). Regularly connecting with people has energized me greatly, which has in turn put me in a state of flow for both my business and personal engagements.

People often ask me how it is that I get constant inspiration for my business or my writings. It’s really about knowing what my inspirational sources are (which include meeting new people, connecting with them, helping others to grow, and having time for self-reflection), and tapping into them.

It’s the same for highly prolific artists, singers, and performers—the ones who constantly release new works, one after another. They do so because they are connected with their source. Some do it subconsciously without realizing it, while others are more deliberate in doing things to trigger a “flow” state.

If you feel uninspired or “dry”, think of the things that inspire you. What inspires you? What drives you forward? What do you live for? What makes you happy? When did you last feel inspired (likely when you were away from work) and what were you doing then? Write down the things that come to mind. Don’t overthink the questions; simply write.

Then, find ways to do those things. So if you are a mom and your inspiration comes from spending time with your kids, then do that. If you are a photographer and your inspiration comes from being in nature, then spend some time in nature. If you are a junior executive and your inspiration comes from being around talented individuals, then identify the talented folks in your department/company and hang around them more often.

Dedicate at least one to two hours every day doing that activity; more or less if needed. Use that time to tickle your inspirational senses and recharge yourself at the same time. You will find that at the end of the activity, you will strangely feel more prolific and ready to get more things done. You may even get new ideas while you were doing it!

This approach works because the things that inspire you give you energy. You don’t want to spend time away from these things; you want to do them as often as you can, or as often as they bring value to you. (Doing something beyond a certain point can lead to reverse effects since the ad nauseum effect will kick in.) To the point where you are connected with your inspirational sources, you will feel inspired. To the point where you are not connected with your inspirational sources, you will not feel inspired.

My inspiration today has been a result of direct, concerted efforts to create that “flow” zone for myself, rather than simply subjecting inspiration to chance. This is why I tend to have no problems writing articles, getting article ideas, and getting ideas for upcoming projects.

The thing is, there are still times when I get into a rut, especially when the going gets tough and I lose touch with my bases (say being overwhelm with day-to-day business activities and losing touch with my original intent of helping people). When that happens, I do not let myself get defined or be subjected by my rut. I take a step back, understand why I have entered the rut, identify the gaps that are causing it, then take action to fill those gaps.

The result has been an increasingly aligned self and an aligned life where inspiration comes naturally and ruts are becoming a thing of yesteryear.

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This is part of the Ask Celes section. If you have a question to ask me, proceed to the Ask Celes page. Check out past Ask Celes questions here.

  • Nicholas

    Hi Celes,

    I relate to these 2 points that you had mentioned
    (a) knowing what your inspirational sources are, and
    (b) knowing how to channel into them.

    Good action steps suggested. Will have them tested out.

    I previously thought I was an introvert and stayed at home, unknowingly made myself felt more drained and edgy.

    Maybe a MBTI test and analysis might help me understand myself better? LOL

    • Celes

      Hi Nicholas! :)

      I previously thought I was an introvert and stayed at home, unknowingly made myself felt more drained and edgy.

      I tend to feel iffy about standard categorizations of introversion and extroversion because they tend to define someone as one or another. I’ve found that each of us has both introverted and extroverted sides and the kind of person we become is a function of the “difference” in introvert/extrovert tendencies beside others (e.g., if A is 45/100 introvert, hanging out with B who is 20/100 introvert will make A appear as an extrovert even though he probably displays an introvert’s characteristics when by himself). I believe other variables come into place too, like commonality in values etc. But this is a separate topic for a separate day.

      At the end of the day, everyone has both tendencies and needs activities that relate to both personas to develop their character and life. The difference between people would be the frequency and intensity in which one pursues the activities (for example, someone who loves human touch would probably need more social activities each week than someone who prefers self-reading and alone time, though the latter would still need some degree of social activities to thrive in his/her life.)

      Went a little off tangent above, but your comment sparked some thoughts in me. Hope someone will find the above helpful!

  • Karen

    Great question!

    and great answer… I every once and a while get “stuck in a rut”. Whenever I take time to step back and, as you say, “reconnect to my source,” I do feel energized. It can be easy to forget that. Do you have a manifesto on this? if not… it would be pretty awesome!

    • Celes

      Hi Karen! :D As I had shared to a similar question by Bob, I pretty much only create manifestos only for list articles, not anything else. I think concepts like reconnecting with inspiration is a single idea concept where either the reader gets the idea and decides to apply it right away in his/her life or doesn’t, and creating a manifesto for reminder purposes only adds on to the clutter rather than add any significant value IMO. (Otherwise there would probably be like 100 over manifestos on the site by now which will confuse readers. I want to be choiceful and only have manifestos created when there is a clear need for it.)

  • Bob

    Hey Celes,

    Spot on with
    (a) knowing what your inspirational sources are, and
    (b) knowing how to channel into them.

    Dictionary definition
    Inspire comes from Latin -inspirare- ‘breathe or blow into,’ from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe’. The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense [inpart a truth or idea to someone.]

    As you rightly say Celes it is good to know what inspires you – in the highest way, apparently Monet, the famous French impressionist painter had numerous paintings by the Great Masters on his studio walls. No wonder he was incredibly inspired.

    A good video from TED talks about body language:

    In the video Amy Cuddy talks about changing our postures to more powerful ones. Try it for 2 minutes if you are in a rut or feeling down and see how you feel afterwards.