Why Inspiration is Overrated

I procrastinated a lot before I wrote this blog post, mainly because I didn’t feel like it. I never really feel like writing unless I’m in the process of reading a really good book or watch some sort of motivational video. Because of this I don’t get much writing done, I spend more time waiting to feel like writing.

A lot of people say things like “I’ll wait to be inspired, then I’ll do it.” But if you wait for inspiration to come, you’ll never accomplish anything. Inspiration comes and goes and is not worth relying on. Great people don’t wait for inspiration, they just do. Inspiration is great when you’re starting something new, but it fades quickly. Rather than constantly looking for inspiration, we should learn to develop discipline. Discipline is not based on feelings but on habits. Habits are stable unlike inspiration.

Strangely enough, the key to being inspired is actually doing the task you are waiting to be inspired to do.  Once you start the task, you’ll begin to feel more motivated to finish it.

Here’s an example. When I decide I’m going to write a blog post I tend to procrastinate. I’ll sit around and think “oh I can do it later,” or “I have too many other things to do right now.” With this mindset I never get any writing done. But when I open up Evernote and actually start writing I begin to feel more inspired. Once I start it actually becomes hard for me to stop.

This same sort of thing happened to me back in high school when I played basketball. I would sit in my house and play video games rather than going outside to practice. But once I went outside and began to shoot or do ball handling drills I would find myself enjoying it more than the video games I was playing. This principle has helped me be successful in college as well.

Habits are far more important than inspiration. If you get into the habit of going to the gym you no longer need to “feel like” going. You just go. It becomes natural. The same is to be said about anything.

If I decided that I was going to write a book I should set a daily goal. I could write 700 words a day. This would help me meet my goal of writing a book as long as I stay consistent. I definitely won’t feel inspired to write 700 words a day, but if I build the habit I am bound to do it. Then in a matter of months I’ll have a completed book! I wouldn’t have finished my hypothetical book because I was inspired to write it, but rather because I learned to be a disciplined and habitual writer.

I am not trying to say that inspiration is worthless, it certainly has its place, but it is definitely overrated. We should not elevate inspiration to a place where it overshadows more important things such as habit building, discipline, and goal setting. When you learn to practice these, inspiration becomes your servant rather than your master.