A lit match with yellow and blue flame
A lit match with yellow and blue flame
#inspiration #inspiringcreativity

Best Ways to Ignite Inspiration

Paul Kiernan

Before you set your sites on getting the big promotion or landing the contract due to your creativity and inspiration, stop and examine the achievement of getting there, understanding your access to your creativity and being open to inspiration.

When I set out to write this article, my idea was to write something about inspiration, being inspired, and how it can help to achieve goals, get ahead, and such. As I started going through my notes, I realized that being inspired and creative is hard enough; why can’t that be the goal all its own? Well, it can.

Here’s the trouble with inspiration and creativity, which we have discussed quite a bit in our blogs, as ThoughtLab is an authority on creativity. People look at ways to be more creative and ways to be inspired as tools to get something else or get somewhere, and when they do that, they forget or gloss over the achievement of being inspired or finding creativity.

Before you set your sites on getting the big promotion or landing the contract due to your creativity and inspiration, stop and examine the achievement of getting there, understanding your access to your creativity and being open to inspiration. Those are things that need to be seen and recognized. And you need to do that before you move on to making money, getting the corner office, etc.

Think about igniting your creativity and being open to inspiration as a lifelong marathon, not a week-long sprint. To be clear, there is nothing at all wrong with making money or setting your sites on the corner office; if that’s your success, you need to go after that 100%.

But, if you approach creativity and inspiration as a craft, a tool that you get good with and better with as time passes, you’ll find they serve you in more situations than the narrow parameters of money and position.

"You Can't Use Up Creativity, the More You Use the More You Have"
Maya Angelou

With that said, there are times when the juices aren't flowing and haven’t been for some time; life seems to be a rut, and even the things that have brought you joy in the past seem dull and, well, uninspiring. So, here we will offer some ways to get inspired again, recharge your creativity and get some spark and joy back into your days.

But first …

What is inspiration

The Oxford English gives us this: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

That’s a pretty dry and technical meaning for something that has been called a lightning strike from God or the voice of the Gods. Inspiration doesn’t have to be that giant ah-ha moment. It doesn’t have to come at you in waves, and it doesn’t need to knock you on your ass so hard that you wake up three days later covered in onion dip and the pages of your new novel.

Sometimes inspiration does come in waves or like a punch in the face from the Hulk. Sometimes it’s quiet and subtle, you see a sale on pasta at the store, and suddenly, you’re going to make lasagne for dinner, which you haven’t done in a long time. In the subtler cases, it’s most important to be open to the opportunity to be inspired. Being open is necessary because sometimes inspiration can feel magical, and for those who traffic only in the “real,” it may mean you’re allowing inspiration to bypass you.

Inspiration and creativity are both two-way streets. You need to be present, open, and receptive to them. When inspiration comes along, you’ve got to be ready and willing to go with it, no matter how unreal it feels. The same with creativity; when it strikes, you need to give it all your attention and follow where it leads. You may feel certain about something, but that dogged attachment to certainty will get in the way of inspiration and creativity. Let it go and be ready for the uncertain; that’s inspiration.

an ocean wave
"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainty."
Erich Fromm

Ways to Get Inspired

Once you’ve put yourself in a receptive mindset, you can look for things that will shake you up and get you inspired. Again, being open and ready is the start. Once you’re in that place, you’ll recognize the inspiring moments easier and be able to turn them into something productive later.

Step away from work

Whatever you’ve given all your concentration, time, focus, and energy to seeking to be inspired, drop it and step away. Going for a walk in the woods or some remote area, free of distractions, free of your mind saying you must be inspired now, is a great way to be inspired. Shut off the mind, open your eyes and ears, and engage all the senses, if possible, putting you in a physical and mental state that is fertile for inspiration.

Try something new and possibly scary

We fall into patterns; we do what we know and don’t challenge ourselves to move beyond familiar ways. Shake that up. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid of or thought you’d be terrible at? Do that. Get scared. Embrace a little chaos. Get inspired.

“Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.”
I Ching.
a confusing pile of Legos

Teach someone something you know well

A great way to solidify your knowledge is to teach it to someone else. Something you’re very good at, something you do daily that you know so well you hardly need to think about it. Teach this skill to someone else. This will give you a new perspective on something well-known, and you’ll be amazed at the ideas someone else will bring to the table. A new perspective or approach can inspire you to do the same old, same old in a different way.


You can read books on people you admire, people with inspiring stories, and leaders in your industry or field, or you can read just to read. Reading is great because it requires you to engage your imagination and put the day out of your mind. No matter what you read, it will put you in a space to be open to inspiration.

Art it up

Even if you think you’re not artistic, do it. Draw, paint, use charcoal, use finger paints, just get out of your comfort zone and try to create using tools you’re not familiar with. If this gives you anxiety and you just cannot imagine a free-form art session, try adult coloring books. You still get to play, but there are some rules to use. The images you’re coloring in are outlines; you get to pick colors and patterns. So, a little guidance can quell those worries.

Look to others

Sometimes being alone or trying to tackle the search for inspiration alone is not right for you. In this case, open your eyes and look around; podcasts, books, TED Talks lectures, blogs, and more are all about inspiration and how people have harnessed or coaxed it into being.

Being inspired by others and their work doesn’t lessen your inspiration or mean that you’re just doing what someone else did, copying them. It means you connect to the world, and from that connection, you’re inspired.

When looking to others for inspiration, don’t overlook the regular folks. It’s easy to look at someone famous and use them or their story to be inspired. But there are small miracles, inspiring people, and stories right next door or down the block. This is part of being open to inspiration, looking where you wouldn’t normally. Teddy Roosevelt is inspiring, but so may be the woodshop teacher in the local high school who built a wooden car; you never know. Look at the unexpected and well as the accepted.

Do not worry

Worry is the enemy of inspiration and the death of creativity. The more you worry that you’re not finding inspiration, the further you move from the space where you’re open and receptive to its arrival.

Think of it as a wet bar of soap. If you squeeze the soap, it flies from your hand. If you relax and let the bar sit in your hand, it will go nowhere. Worry is the squeezing that leaves you chasing, not accepting.

ThoughtLab Inspires

Being around inspired people, creative people, and listening to their ideas and their approaches to creativity can inspire you. Maybe you need fresh eyes on your problem to help you get inspired. Whatever the case, talk to ThoughtLab, the agency that thrives on creativity. We can help you see further, see beyond the blockage and get you inspired and creating again.

Contact ThoughtLab for a free consultation today.