Ok, so before you go thinking this is click bait – let me explain!
I spent a long time feeling ‘inspired’ by a lot of different things – inspirational quotes included. It felt great – I was envisioning my future, imagining slaying all my goals and watching my dreams unfold in front of me. If I had a bad day, I’d just refocus my energy on what my life would feel like once I had accomplished said goals and when I’d be living in that awesome house on my dream board. I’ve read my fair share of ‘self-‘help’ books and a lot of them have this as a crucial step – imagine your life exactly the way that you want it and hang on to that feeling. When you lose it, remind yourself of it to stay focused and taking steps towards it. The part that I missed – doing the actual work.
Now, I’m not arguing with these books or for those of you who think this step has really helped you in your own personal life. But what I am arguing, are all the other suckers out there who are lying to themselves, saying that they’re doing everything in their power to accomplish these goals but in reality, are taking that extra couple of hours at the end of the day to watch some TV and aimlessly scroll through social media. Meanwhile, complaining and freaking out that nothing in your life has really changed.
I was one of these suckers until very recently. Until I realized that you can’t just stare at your dream board all day long, expecting it to manifest itself. You can’t think about all these really awesome things you’d like for yourself but not take extreme action in your life in order to accomplish them. I don’t care how much thinking you do, you’ll never accomplish anything more than the mediocrity you have unless you take massive action. Too often, I think people use inspirational quotes (and a handful of other things dictated by personal preference) as a crutch to re-confirm that they’re ‘on the right path’. Meanwhile, the Universe is looking at you like ‘Mmk. I can’t help you if you can’t help yourself’.
So why do we feel so great after reading something inspirational? For a brief moment in time, they fill a void – a need for instant gratification, reinforcement, or distraction. Scientific research has shown that motivational quotes make us feel the same as if we actually accomplished something (Inc.com). Yikes! So in a nutshell, that means it reduces both our capacity and willingness to take on any sort of real action because we’re already feeling pretty damn good and fulfilled. And by the way, creativity doesn’t typically happen when we feel those things.
Most inspirational quotes are letting you know in some way or another that it’s ok. It’s ok to be who you are, to be where you’re at and it’s ok that you’re trying your best. Now, I don’t want to speak for every single person out there but for the majority of us, we’re probably not being the best version of ourselves, we’re not where we are supposed to be and we’re not really trying our best. Not even close. And let’s be real, that’s probably one of the reasons you’re looking up inspirational quotes in the first place. Don’t let this notion prevent you from making huge leaps forward because a blue neon sign you saw in Bali said ‘you’re exactly where you need to be’.
Real accomplishments and real artistry doesn’t happen by reading quotes on social media. It happens when you actually do the work. Oh, and doing real work requires you to sit down and actually do the work, whether or not you’re ‘inspired’ to.
Just for arguments-sake, let’s take a few motivational quotes and break them down, shall we? 😜
There’s no such thing as failure.
Yeah there is. When you fail to meet your goal, fail to try, fail to creatively get past an obstacle. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re not failing, if you really are. Motivational quotes are great at fooling you into thinking that you’re trying and rendering progress, even if you’re not.
It’s about the journey, not the destination.
Mmk. Like all of these, there is probably some truth in this but let’s be real, it’s definitely about the destination. Focusing too much on here and how, and what you’re learning, and how all the pieces fit exactly can make you lose focus of your actual goals and successes. It also gives you an excuse as to why you haven’t met your goals, yet. Instead, know that the journey is full of learning opportunities but set yourself up for success by claiming it and having several goals accomplished.
A goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot.
A goal should be accomplished. Period.
If you want real ‘inspiration’ then do it. Put in the time, effort and work that it takes to accomplish something big. Get motivated by the grind – not the reward!