Building a company from the ground up isn’t just hard work. It’s emotionally taxing. So why should you be surprised when you find your “inspiration tank” plummeting to zero day after day?
Inspiration isn’t like other commodities. You can’t buy it on the open market. However, it has the upside of being renewable—as long as you know where to find it. And you can start by going back to basics.
Below are some tried-and-true resources that are sure to give you an inspirational boost. They’ll soothe your soul and refuel your creativity so you can charge forward with confidence.
The written word may be low-tech but reading motivational books can offer you some high rewards. Though you don’t have to stick to the hottest bestsellers, checking up on booklists from sites like the Wall Street Journal and USA Today can introduce you to possibilities.
Take Mark Lachance’s The Lucky Formula, for instance. After launching in late 2021, it grabbed quite a bit of attention from the bookselling crowd. Written for entrepreneurs, Lachance’s work presents a powerful argument for thinking of luck as controllable rather than as a fluke. You just have to set up the right internal and external conditions for luck to appear—and what better way to start your journey to improved inspiration than with a little good fortune?
Of course, you don’t have to stock up your library with only business books. Picking up anything from a dog-eared copy of Hamlet from your favorite used bookstore or your toddler’s edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar can get you out of your head and into new worlds. There, you may find answers in the most unlikely of places.
We live in an era where most professionals have smartphones, tablets, or laptops within reach every minute of the day. In other words, you probably have access to the Internet on demand. Consider using your access to listen to inspirational content in the form of podcasts.
The podcast has arisen as an easy vehicle to learn snackable knowledge quickly and efficiently. All you need is a device to get started. If you’re new to podcasts, you may want to concentrate your efforts around motivational ones devoted to the needs of small businesses. Case in point: The David Vs Goliath Podcast has amassed some traction for its unique positioning. Each episode provides insider tips from startup CEOs who fought much bigger competitors and lived to tell the tale… not to mention thrived. You’ll hear how they overcame obstacles and get “Aha!” nuggets to inform your business planning, marketing, and branding strategies.
Above all else, podcasts can be your lifeline out of a burnout rut. Why go it alone? Pick a few podcasts to become your go-to sources for serious brain stimulation.
For millennia, art has stood as not just a creative outlet but as a source for replenishment of everything from the imagination to the heart. Art can rivet or revolt. Regardless of your initial reaction to a painting, sculpture, or even one of the newest art forms, the digital non-fungible token or NFT, you’ll be changed by it somehow. And that inner change can spur ingenuity.
Can’t get to a museum because of your busy schedule? Set aside 15 minutes to check out art online. Or, find someone to be your guide. For major entertainment value, check out videos from Sister Wendy Beckett on visual artwork. Sister Wendy’s knowledge, humor, and presentational style may be the escape you need from the demands of leadership.
As a side note, you don’t have to just look at art to be inspired by it. You can make it, too. No need to be a Rembrandt, Kahlo, or Warhol. Engaging in art that’s only meant for you can be beneficial, too.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an entrepreneur who didn’t have one or more go-to genres of music. Whether yours leans toward classic rock, opera, grunge, country, or today’s top 40, be sure to avail yourself of some tunes throughout the day. Why? You can attempt to tame the stress monster.
Preliminary research from 2020 on the music-as-destressor concept indicates that people experiencing anxiety can get a break from their frustrations by listening to music. In other words, melting away all your tensions could be as easy as plugging in your Airpods. This is something that apparently three-quarters of at-home workers already do, per Nielsen.
Again, you don’t have to just be a music listener. Playing an instrument or singing can give you the release you need to reframe your situation and maybe foster some innovative thinking. When you have a big problem looming, turn up the volume on some songs and give your brain a treat.
So many founders spend their downtime in a natural setting. They head to the mountains. They bask on beaches. Or they traipse through desert terrain. That’s because nature always has a way of putting a fresh slant on troubles and mishaps.
You can’t run away to the hills every time a roadblock appears or your visionary wellspring runs dry, of course. But most areas have some type of green space that will deliver you from the digital, the technical, and the metropolitan.
Whether you call it communing with nature or just enjoying a breath of fresh air, avail yourself of natural surroundings. If you’re working virtually, step into your backyard or take a trip around the neighborhood. If you’re caught in what feels like commuting madness, head to a nearby community park in the morning or evening instead of finishing your drive. Just a few minutes spent around trees, plants, rocks, and outdoor wildlife can revive your waning enthusiasm.
Does it feel like your inspiration packed its bags and left for good? It’s not gone forever. You can woo it back by reading books, listening to music and podcasts, enjoying art, and embracing the natural world.