By Leo Babauta
You are overcome with laziness and procrastination, feeling unmotivated, stuck, can’t get started.
You are not alone. This is a commonality in the human condition, and the solution is elusive, never standing still and not wanting to be easily caught.
You are not alone, but in this union with your brothers and sisters, there is hope. I’m among you, and I have found a few meager solutions. And if I can solve this problem, so can you. If others have beaten it, you can.
These are ways I’ve found inspiration.
one: This morning as I sat down to write I had some ideas for posts but wasn’t excited about any of them. So I asked on Twitter, “What are you having problems with that I can help with?” Several people responded with things like laziness, motivation, procrastination, getting started. Having something to help with inspired me to write.
lesson: Inspiration can come from finding a way to help others.
two: My eight-year-old son was looking bored, and I asked about a (short) novel he’s been reading. He showed me the book and I challenged him to read four chapters today. His face lit up and he got to reading.
lesson: Creating a challenge can be an inspiration.
three: I have problems with procrastination, just like anyone else. I usually solve it when 1) I crystalize in my mind what I most want to be doing right now and what is most important; 2) I clear away all other distractions; and 3) I get started. As I began writing this post, I closed all other browser tabs (bookmarked ones I want to read later) and opened only the “new post” page in WordPress. Then I clicked on the “fullscreen” button so that everything but the writing box disappeared. Then I entered “Presentation Mode” in Google Chrome, so that everything else on my computer screen faded away. Now it’s just me and these words.
lesson: Clear away everything else and just create.
four: In the morning I sometimes feel lazy when I’ve told myself I want to exercise, stretch, or meditate. I don’t feel motivated. So instead of motivating myself to do something that might take 10, 20 or 30 minutes, I just focus on the smallest action: starting. To meditate or stretch, I just need to put my butt on the pillow (on the floor). To exercise, I just need to lace up my shoes and get out the door. Once I start, the rest is easy, and I’m always glad I did.
lesson: Get your butt on the pillow. Don’t wait for motivation, just start. Motivation will come.
five: As I began to write this morning I heard what sounded like opera music streaming through the walls from my neighbor’s house. What a lovely sound to write to! I immediately began playing some opera of my own, and the uplifting beauty infused my act of creation.
lesson: Surround yourself by inspiration. Music, art, great books, fascinating people.
six: When I feel lazy and don’t want to do anything, I remind myself of the gift I’ve been given. I live an amazing life, and to be given the joy of this world and the people around me, is a complete and utter miracle. Then I ask myself, “Is this how I want to use this miracle?” What a complete waste of something so perfect, so profound, to spend the little time I have in this life on pointlessness and laziness. I don’t mind doing nothing, if it is a nothing that makes me happy. But I also want to create, to help people, to be compassionate towards others, to do something fulfilling and joyous. And so I do.
lesson: Be grateful for the miracle of your life, and ask yourself how you want to spend it. Then get to creating, to making lives better.
seven: I read blogs by fascinating people doing inspired things. Often they will write about something they’re working on, and it sparks an idea in me, makes me want to do something really cool too. Yesterday this happened and I’ve spent hours now dreaming up something big. It might never happen, but that’s not the important thing. Because I surround myself (virtually) with inspired people, I’m more likely to be hit by inspiration.
lesson: Don’t wait for inspiration to strike — you have to meet it halfway. If you want to be hit by lightning, go out in a thunderstorm with a metal rod. Scream at the thundering gods, daring them to strike you.