It’s not enough to start with the inspiration, although it’s farther than most people get.
It may be the first step to living the life you love, but nothing else happens if you stop there. If you’re not making progress towards doing what you love, here are the 3 steps to bring your inspiration to life.
1. Use practicality to your advantage
Practicality is extremely beneficial when used to support the inspiration. The focus is on the reality: the bills are waiting to be paid, the car is due for new tires, the savings account is drawing low. Yet the motivation is to attain the dream. In this way, we make slow yet continuous progress towards actualizing the inspiration—as improbable and tremendous of a project it may seem.
This is why people work full-time jobs while starting up their idea on the side. Or take part-time work to pay the bills as they build little by little what’s imagined or faintly conceptualized. Or perhaps they take a leap of faith and become full-time entrepreneurs with savings to draw upon. Either way, it takes hours and hours, year after year of hard, practical work, more often peppered with many failures and lessons learned along the way. From the earliest to the recent dreamers and doers—Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, Elizabeth Holmes—this is how it works.
There is no magical formula. Inevitably, it comes down to a blend of hard work, practicality and persistence.
2. Take small steps and adjust as necessary
In any big venture, there will be moments of pure panic, times when you will be tempted to throw out the work you’ve done and return to stability, ease and minimal expectations. You’ll experience the ostrich syndrome, when all you want to do is stick your head under the covers and hide out until the uncertainty is over. Sometimes these periods pass quickly; other times they last for weeks or months. It is in these moments when you slow down, have patience and take it one small step at a time.
With impatience and unrelenting self-pressure, I pushed myself to do more and more at an unsustainable clip in previous years. I believed if I didn’t keep striding forward, that it was unproductive and a waste of time. We’re brought up in that way—with the misapprehension that any waiting, hesitation, or contemplation should be minimized as much as possible. The experienced result is burnout, and it ends up being more unproductive than if you simply slowed down the process and adjusted for the energy fluctuations along the way.
We forget there is necessary and immense value in the potentially lengthy period that precedes a momentous decision or realization. The apex is not possible without the ascent, however slow. By not being patient, we can often go in a different direction than where the little signs and inklings are pointing. Patience is difficult but an integral part of the process of uncovering your path, which commonly takes time to unfold. It’s not just a waiting game though; the process takes engagement and attention, constant learning, experimenting, reflecting and testing along the way.
Even the greatest plans in the world will include surprises, pitfalls or challenges. Slowing down allows you to see more clearly and adjust plans as necessary. Your idea will likely evolve, pivot and turn out almost unrecognizable in the process of figuring out what works. The best lessons are from experience, and slow and steady allows for perceptive changes in strategy instead of hasty moves.
3. Consult yourself and with others
It’s a long process when building your inspiration from the foundation. Therefore it’s important, particularly during challenging times, to check in with your whole self. This means everything, including the good, spectacular, bad and embarrassing. Be honest on your strengths, weaknesses and potentials. In order to achieve your highest capacity, you will need to confront what you most do not wish to confront: the worst of your self-doubt, anxieties, fears. They will raise forces and charge mercilessly in your most susceptible state.
There’s not much else I can say to prepare someone for this internal war other than to be patient and caring during this time. You will need as much courage and self-support as you can give to come through the other side. When you do come through—and with enough time and effort you will—all those moments of angst, frustration, and tears will be worth it.
In working the dream, it’s also possible veer off track of the original inspiration and reason behind what you’re doing. This happened with me when I discovered that in building up my vision, I was going about it in a way unfitting to myself. I was following a formula that worked for others instead of what worked for me. While it’s beneficial to receive outside perspective and expertise, it’s important to remain true to yourself and respect your own limits. Despite being less traveled, less certain, and (more likely than not) less efficient, forging a custom path based on your specifications is ultimately going to be more fruitful than trying to fit into someone else’s mold.
It’s important to surround yourself with a positive, ever-evolving, multi-faceted community, reflective of the personal renaissance in the current stage of your life. This not only includes family and old friends, who are well-meaning but perhaps unfamiliar with where you are headed, but also people who are also pioneering their own way, in a similar field or a completely different area. In order to achieve your inspiration, you will need the support of family, friends and acquaintances; the key is knowing who is fitting for what role.
This comes down to self-knowledge. Realizing your weaknesses will help you seek out a certain person with the complementary skill set as a coach or partner; knowing what you don’t know will lead you to consult people with the relevant experience for their advice. The people you surround yourself have a major impact on you, your work and growth. As you evolve into different phases of your life, it will be essential for you to develop new corresponding relationships for beneficial influence and support.
Bringing your inspiration to life comes down to execution and persistence in following these 3 steps. It involves a significant chunk of trust, faith and time. It’s hard and scary, which why starting with the inspiration is paramount. Starting with the inspiration will keep you going when the going gets tough.