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Make Your Move

How to Get Out of a Slump When "Inspiration" Isn’t Cutting It

Inspiration is often credited as the motive force that pushes you to reach for more – the invisible power coaxing you to take action towards your goals. You need to feel “inspired” in order to level up, right?

But what happens when you find your inspiration tank on empty? How do you dig out of a slump when there’s no magic-fairy-dust-feel-good-power to draw from?

You know you should be moving in one direction, but there’s nothing lighting you up emotionally to propel you down that path. And so, you fall back in the wrong direction…and life gets grayer and duller the further you fall. It’s like a movie where the character is drowning and watching the light of the surface get further and further away as she sinks to her death (that’s a bit dramatic but you get the point). Now, how are you supposed to find inspiration in this pit of despair?

Here’s the problem with being a dancer – it’s EXHAUSTING. We’ve chosen a field where we have to keep ourselves in prime condition pretty much year-round. Dancers don’t really have an off-season. Maybe we have a couple months “off” here and there when we are not performing…but we are always working on our craft, taking class, and training. So, we don’t have the luxury of straying too far from our peak performance state. And month after month, year after year, that can be extremely draining.

Physical burnout isn’t your only barrier to reaching your true potential. Mental and emotional burnout are factors as well – and that includes losing your inspiration (a.k.a. that fire in you that compels you to be extraordinary). Once that fire burns out, it can be really difficult to get it started again.

Have you ever gone through a period of intense focus where you dedicated 100% of your time & energy towards a goal (whether a performance, photo shoot, exam, audition…)? It felt like you couldn’t let up on yourself for a second or you would lose your momentum, right? So, you kept churning through all the inspiration & willpower you could scrounge up just to maintain your course full-speed-ahead. And once you achieved that goal, you had a few precious moments of glorious victory…and then, CRASH. You became so exhausted from all your efforts that you couldn’t even pick yourself up off the couch to brush your teeth at night let alone get back into your self-improvement quest. Cue your mental demons:

What’s wrong with you? You just spent 3 months driving yourself like a champion with incredible willpower and focus…yet now you feel as though simple acts of daily living take more effort than you care to muster up. You went from 100 mph to 0 mph in a matter of days and can’t even get the engine rolling again. WTF?

(Can I get some magic fairy dust inspiration up in here please?!)

While you were being spurred on by a steady influx of inspiration during your quest, that was also draining you of every last drop of inspiration…leaving you wasted and empty afterwards. Hence your state of depression and laziness. And as much as you know you should…you just don’t have the desire to start attacking your goals again. Your fire is out.

Confession: I have been struggling with this for the last few weeks. I pushed my body and mind too hard for too long…and I crashed. Without the inspiration to get back on my self-improvement path, I keep indulging the bratty little girl in me who wants to defy all the right choices that will lead me closer to my goals (you know, when you choose to eat that giant cookie for the 10th day in a row not because you really want it but just out of spite? Yeah.). Knowing perfectly well that I’m just digging myself a bigger hole to climb out of, knowing I should be doing my work, knowing I’m letting myself down and falling behind, knowing I could be more, I feel paralyzed by my lack of inspiration. As much as I know all the right things to do to get back on my path, I just don't have the motivation to drag myself out. I keep waiting for inspiration to manifest out of thin air to get me moving in the right direction.

But nothing comes to save me.

Until I am reminded that I have to save myself. If inspiration isn’t moving me…maybe I have to make the move first. The inspiration and motivation don’t have to necessarily be there before you take action. The action can conjure inspiration and motivation.

I recently saw this awesome visual in “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” and was reminded of how powerful this cycle can be:

INSPIRATION --> MOTIVATION --> ACTION --> INSPIRATION -->...

 

Which can also read:

 

ACTION --> INSPIRATION --> MOTIVATION --> ACTION -->...

So, here’s what you have to do when you find yourself lacking the inspiration to get the job done...make a promise to yourself:

  • Tomorrow, even though I will not feel like doing it, I will take this one step towards my goal. And the next day, I will take this one step towards my goal. And so on. It’s okay if my heart’s not in it, and I’m totally uninspired. Because I know, eventually I will be. These simple actions will add up to create inspiration. Which will create motivation. Which will create more action.

You don’t have to wait for the inspiration to strike. Sometimes you have to strike before you want to. And that action will create a desire in you to achieve, reach, grow. It’s a “tough love” sort of thing – force yourself to make the moves you don’t want to take…and eventually you’ll love the moves you make. Stop waiting for inspiration to magically manifest. Go ahead, make your move.

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