Finding Inspiration and Passion
I’m an experiential person. Being dyslexic, I’ve learned over time that my best learning modality comes from immersing myself headfirst into whatever it is I’m trying to understand. I have come to understand that I’m someone who needs to be inspired and find motivation through whatever it is I’m spending time doing. If I’m not, I’ll quickly de-prioritize it, and it will fall into the “I’ll get to it at some point category.” Clearly, I’m one of those people who’s driven by passion, and can’t function well if my soul’s not on fire. Not every project is going to fuel that, so I have to work extra hard to find it. Plus, I understand not everyone operates that way. And yet, if I’m being honest, I struggle to understand why they don’t.
As I scanned my never-seems-to-get-shorter to-do list this morning, I highlighted the tasks which must be done, with the project work that feeds my soul. I’ve tried hard to craft a world for myself where the work I do in my job is a healthy balance of being impactful to Rapid7, and supplements my personal values and interests. Somehow, I’ve managed to find success in doing this. Through it all, I have found that I actively seek out ways to be inspired by whatever it is I am learning about - even if it initially feels a little soul-sucking. Why? Frankly, when I am inspired, I’m far more likely to commit to going all in and giving it my best.
So what is it about why we need inspiration? And should we really expect to sit back passively and seek to be inspired, or are we accountable to actively go out and find our inspiration? Is it even really important when we have so much on our plates to just be able to check off our lists?
WHY WE NEED INSPIRATION AND PASSION IN OUR LIVES
WE ALL NEED PURPOSE
It doesn’t really matter what your purpose is; just that you have one. For some, work might provide that. For others, being a parent serves that need. Ultimately, whether you’re drawn to community service, completing a marathon or whatever it is that speaks to you personally, I’d argue we just kind of go through the motions of life. Does anyone really want to live like that? When we are inspired, we have that raison d’etre to get out of bed in the morning.
CONNECTION TO PEOPLE
Whether it’s on a date or just when I’m trying to get to know someone new, one of my go-to questions in trying to learn about that person is to simply ask, “What are you passionate about?” If the person doesn’t have an answer, I tap out. I don’t care what the answer is; just that there is one. When someone is inspired by something in their lives and have a greater purpose, I make the assumption they are self-motivated, and hopefully not bogged down by a lot of drama. Candidly, I’m drawn to anyone who gets excited talking about something they are passionate about.
EXPAND YOUR UNIVERSE
In our hyper-networked lives, there is still nothing that can replace human connection. When you have something you are passionate or inspired about, and you are out in the world building associated experiences, you’re bound to meet others who share your interest areas. Being open to meeting different people from different places who you have something in common with breeds a broader, more healthy human ecosystem in your life. Put down your phone for a bit...we all need a little more of this in our lives.
MAKE THE WORLD A LITTLE BETTER
When we are inspired by something in our lives, we can move beyond ourselves and use them to make a difference in the world. If you love working out, you can parlay that into helping the elderly stay fit. If you are passionate about music, you could teach children how to play. Again, it doesn’t matter what you do; if you have something that you are inspired by, sharing it brings people and communities together. And while it’s typically that we often turn our attention to the “me focus, ” when we share beyond ourselves, it’s likely your sense of purpose is filled. You’ll feel accomplished, and others will appreciate you. The inspiration lifecycle feeds itself.
Ok, so if that explains a little bit about why we need to be inspired, how do we actually find that inspiration?
HOW TO FIND INSPIRATION AND PASSION IN OUR LIVES
Inspiration can take limitless forms and can be found just about anywhere. However, like with most things of any real meaning in our lives, we have to take some accountability to seek it out. It’s not the world’s - or your boss’s, or honestly anyone else’s - responsibility to inspire you. If you choose to look at the world open-mindedly and actively look, you can find it literally anywhere you look. Some ways to get started:
Ditch your watch and phone, and talk a walk. Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch children play. Play fetch with your dog. No matter where you go, get outside and literally stop and smell the flowers.
Once you come in from the outside and you log back into the world, you can find inspiration from the comfort of your couch. Whether it’s watching a TED talk on a totally new subject to you, subscribing to inspirational blogs like Upworthy or googling inspiring speeches, it’s hard not to walk away feeling a little more motivated and excited.
I challenge myself to grab lunch or spend time with someone who has nothing to do with my everyday world at least once a month. No matter what your approach, the world is full of people who will inspire you - if you choose to see them that way. Ask your grandparents about their childhoods. Read an autobiography about someone who pushed boundaries. Turn off the lights and really listen to the lyrics of an album. Seek out a friend who you view as completely passionate about something in their life, and ask them about it.
Sometimes, you’ll find your inspiration or passion where you least expect it. Open doors are in front of us every single day. You just have to look for them - and then not be afraid to kick the door in and see what’s behind it. Push yourself by trying something you believe you can’t do, but always wanted to try. Create a bucket list for yourself, and commit to pursuing at least one item on it this year. Gather a team of trusted people in your life, and ask them to help you brainstorm a new way of thinking about something. Attend a Meetup or conference where you connect with people with shared interests.
LOOK IN THE MIRROR
Sometimes, our best source of inspiration can be found within ourselves. Whether you choose to cast your vulnerabilities aside and capture your real thoughts in a journal, commit to embracing a new daily habit, have a private rock concert in the privacy of your car, or take a day off and do anything that you truly enjoy. There is so much inside each of us that can push us further than we expected...sometimes we just need to look for it in a different way.
Life can feel tedious and redundant….OR, it can serve to be an incredible gift to us every day. By seeking out and embracing a little inspiration even in your everyday work, you just might find way more personal fulfillment and engagement in your own life and work. You just have to choose to look at the world that way, and actively pursue it.