Ways to lead an inspired life and work better

Photo by Christian Lunde

Leisure

Ways to lead an inspired life and work better

Not every day is a bliss. Inspiration takes work.

11 February 2019

Being successful has a lot to do with how we work: Our habits, discipline, and processes.

Just showing up and grinding it out is not enough.

Success requires Love, Passion, Enthusiasm, Stamina, and Grit. Without these 5 elements, we risk of becoming a mouse on a spinning wheel.

Here are various tools & techniques we can use in our daily lives.

Depending on how dedicated we are to our goals, we can use these techniques sparingly or all at once.

1. Having a Goal

Here are two simple fundamental truths:

  1. Setting goals is key to having a purpose
  2. Having a purpose is key to being successful

As mundane as those two sentences sound, they are key to our success.

We’ve heard them over and over again throughout our lives, yet we tend to forget some basic truths that help us succeed.

Goals can be divided in:

  • Ultimate Goals as in:
    “We want to launch our product in October”
  • Daily Goals (or Dailies) as in:
    “Implement the Contact-form on our website by 3pm”

Quote: When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. —CONFUCIUS

Having specific Ultimate & Daily Goals is key to maintaining sanity.

Without clarity in our Goals, we risk jeopardizing resources that help us reach our ultimate desired outcome.

2. Eliminating “Noise”

Noise is anything that is disabling us from doing our best work.

Noise can be Loud or Silent.

Loud Noises

“Loud noises” are the most obvious audible distractions:

  • Distracting music (there are genres that are helpful)
  • Chit-chatting nearby co-workers
  • A broken air-conditioner, etc.

“Loud noises” can be so detrimental that sometimes consciously they’re very hard to notice. However, our subconscious will feel the continuous burden.

If you cannot completely eliminate “Loud noises” around you, consider acquiring noise-canceling headphones. They are magical even if you put them on without playing any music.

Below is a review of BOSE Noise Canceling Headphones by the Marques Brownlee

There are a tonne of other brands out there, offering the same solution with their headphones: JBL, Beats, and others.

Silent noises

On the other hand, “Silent noises” are a bit harder to fight off. It takes a bit of a disciplined effort to tame them successfully.

“Silent noises” are thoughts, stresses, rumination.

However, there are ways to fight off these anxieties and emotional build-ups.

A straight-forward way to push these negative feelings aside is to teach ourselves to focus.

As we go on our daily lives, we must train ourselves to never multi-task and always focus on the thing at hand: If you’re watching TV, watch TV only. If you’re eating lunch, eat lunch only.

These tiny little practices will carry over to our workday and make us a more disciplined busy-bee. A happy busy-bee.

More on Music…

One of the ways to remain inspired while working, is listening to some sort of instrumental music.

Here’s something that’s easy on the ears:

3. Being Grateful

Feeling grateful puts our emotions at ease. It makes us feel safer and purposeful.

Gratitude gives us a sense of fulfillment.

When we count our blessings, the universe conspires to bless us with more.

It could be something super simple: “I am so lucky to be a great designer!”

It sounds silly at first. But, saying it out loud and declaring it as a fact, will have an immediate impact on your mood.

Gratitude is a powerful ally to fighting any noise, internal or external. It empowers us to reach new heights and know our “Whys?” as in “Why do I want to succeed so much in what I’m working on?”

Practicing gratitude is a great technique for pushing our stress aside, AKA “Being Grateful for everything we are and have in our lives”.

“Have” as in people, relationships, love, successes.

Gratitude is best practiced in the morning, as we’re starting our day. However, it can be repeated during the day, especially if we’re feeling anxious about something.

Practicing gratitude is not a full-blown religious event. You can simply find a quiet spot and tell yourself things you’re grateful for.

You’ll notice the weight of the world instantly melting off of your shoulders.

4. Exercise

Strengthening our body is key to a healthy mind.

Quote: Mens sana in corpore sano(Healthy mind in a healthy body) — Decimus Iūnius Iuvenālis

Not all of us have the luxury of hitting the gym on regular basis. But, we must try our hardest to have at least 15-minutes of physical activity in the morning.

Those short 15-minutes per day can have a tremendous effect in how we feel physically & emotionally.

Over time you’ll notice you are more relaxed, respond better to daily stresses, and overall have better solutions to life’s obstacles.

Oh and your hangovers will be less taxing, if your weekends are filled with an extra pint of beer or two.

On Running

“Runner’s high” is not a joke. It is an inspirational moment that helps us find solutions to life’s most pressing issues.

Running is a process that creates new neurons and neural connections. Sex and exercise are another form.

Neurogenesis is linked to better health and stronger cognitive processes.

Sandrine Thuret’s, explores this exact topic on this TED Talk below:

Scientist are now thinking of new ways to stimulate neurogenesis rather than try to suppress depression. Neurogenesis is linked to happy habits and inspiring outcomes.

Back to Exercising

Here’s a 10-minute no-gym workout that you can do anywhere. Although HIIT is not the best neuron-producing exercise, it’s still great if you cannot make it to the gym.

In an order of impact, exercises that stimulate neurogenesis the most, are:

  1. Running
  2. Weight-lifting (Strength training)
  3. HIIT

Also, read this article in New York Times that elaborates a bit more on the subject.

If you are traveling or pressed with time, you can do something as little as stretching to get your blood flowing properly all over your body.

WARNING:
With stretching, just like everything else, you have to be careful not to overdo it. It’s just as easy to tear a muscle while stretching as it is when playing a high intensity sport.

Follow instructions below on how to stretch properly:

5. Discuss and open up

At 9AM, as you make your way to your desk say hello to others and discuss what y’all are working on. Share vocally and visually (if possible) what your day ahead looks like.

Even if you are in a managerial position, still try to share your day with your team.

Being in a leading position can turn into a lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to. Sharing your obstacles as a manager will inspire your best team-players to come up with solutions you might have never thought of.

As your share, two things will happen:

  1. You may think of a new supporting idea (vocalizing your thoughts has a tremendous effect on new thinking patterns)
  2. The person you are talking to, will say something that may inspire you to find a better solution to your challenges

6. Take a break

As a rule, you should not allow your body to be in a sitting position for more than 60 minutes.

Sedentary life leads to a myriad of health issues.

Even though 60-minutes may sometimes be too quick to stop, you must do everything you can to get up, at most, after 90-minutes of sitting down.

Taulant Sulko, a designer friend of mine in Toronto, Canada, says that what inspires him is: “Going out for a walk to clear my head. Works every time. It is very meditative.”

You can walk around the office/block or you can do jumping jacks and inspire your co-workers to join you and do the same.

A few laughs will get everyone’s adrenaline pumping, which you can ride on for the rest of the day.

If you work in an office with client’s walking in all the time. Seeing your staff do jumping-jacks together, will make you more human and increase their trust in you and your company.

How about watching some stand-up comedy?

If you are taking a lunch break and you find yourself alone in the kitchen, you can even watch/listen to a stand-up comedian brighten the rest of your day.

Laughter releases endorphins or “feel-good brain” chemicals. It distracts us from pain and stress.

Laughter helps us ride the wave longer.

Basically, laughter makes us feel great and less judgmental, which may help us “Get out of our heads” and be in the zone. Alice G. Walton explores a few ways on how to “get out of our heads” in this Forbes article.

7. Plan your finances

When our money is in check, we feel safer about our future.

Whatever our current financial situation, we must plan ahead.

There’s nothing worse than feeling immobilized because of our financial situation.

Quote: Failing to plan is planning to fail. — Alan Lakein

Having a simple Excel sheet of our upcoming expenses and incoming payments, will give us a peace of mind and translate positively to our overall motivation.

The Richest Man in Babylon is a great anecdotal tale on making a comeback, paying back everyone we know, making a financial plan, and taking advantage of compounding interest.

When our finances are solid and sound, our overall outlook is improved since we’re not worried about future financial challenges that may come up.

8. Be in a beautiful state

This one is a bit abstract.

“Being in a beautiful state” can mean many things to different people.

It could mean that we are bold, respectful, excited, interested, curious, kind, just — whatever empowers us to be our best.

Quote: Be bold. Be kind. Be curious. Be Beautiful.

Being in a beautiful state will attract other beautiful impulses floating all around us.

9. Compartmentalize

To succeed, each day we must progress a tiny little step forward.

As mentioned above, planning our day ahead is great. However, sometimes things happen during the day that lead us astray.

To avoid helplessness, find that space-time in your day to at least finish a part of the task. You will quickly start to experience a snowball effect, which will lead you to the next chapter of your success.

The trick is to “fool” yourself into starting small, regardless of your circumstances.

Start big, think small

Lets say, your goal is to write a novel. Starting with a blank page can be daunting. Start big instead and work your way from the outside-in.

  • Write about your overall tone
  • Start to think about ideas you want to cover
  • Think about each chapter and its specific sub-sections
  • Breakdown sections into smaller ideas
  • Let ideas guide your writing
  • Once you have your broader strokes ready, you’ll realize that starting out is a piece of cake.

10. Motivate others

We all have days when we literally cannot move the dial. It feels as if nothing is moving forward.

It’s Ok to let go and drop everything you’re working on.

Remember: quitting for a day, doesn’t mean you’re quitting forever.

Regardless of every little tool we’ve used to move forward, sometimes we feel tired and must let go.

To get the ball rolling, we can drop everything and try to help someone else instead. Seeing others succeed, especially because of our input, can help us gain momentum. A momentum which we can leverage to move forward.

Be a mentor to someone just starting out. Help them succeed.

Their success will inspire and motivate you to work better.

11. Watch motivational videos

There are plenty of motivational videos floating on You Tube. Some of the best are a mix of video and voiceover.

Here is a great motivational video with 7M views at the time of this writing: WINNERS MINDSET

12. Make your goals public

In our quest to turning our goals into a reality, we experience many obstacles along the way.

Sharing our goals publicly makes us more vulnerable to criticism, but it also opens up our minds to what is possible.

By letting others know what you’re up to, you set the tone.

You are making a statement that you have arrived. You are inviting other likeminded people to join you.

In your office setting, get a giant board and list your company’s ultimate goal. State your North Star.

There’s nothing more inspirational than seeing a group of people work towards a single goal for everyone’s benefit.

13. Surround yourself with positive people

This is a big one.

It’s important to surround ourselves with people who are motivated.

If you find yourself amongst those who complain for no apparent reason and you cannot influence them to think positively, simply move away and find people who match your energy.

Being around people who feel great about themselves, will influence you positively.

Chances are, if you are feeling Beautiful already, you are more than likely to attract people similar to your wavelength.

13. Eat healthy

Eating well has a tremendous effect on how we feel. Gut bacteria are crucial to our well being & mental health. A study on Gut microbiome by Paul Bertrand, Amy Loughman, and Melinda Jackson (RMIT University), goes into the topic even further.

Certain foods can alter our mood in a positive way.

Here are centuries-old practices that can improve our health:

  • Starting our day with a glass of warm water mixed with a few lemon slices, can help flush our digestive system and get our gut ready for the day.
  • Having garlic, honey, cinnamon, dark chocolate, olive oils, throughout our day will help maintain our good energy levels and keep us healthy in the long run.
  • Eating whole foods.
  • Eliminating processed foods from our diet.
  • Eating out less and cooking more at home.
  • Drinking coffee and herbal teas. The most recent research possibly links coffee to living longer (BBC)
  • Eliminating alcoholic and carbonated beverages.
  • Drinking soup before every major meal is thought to fulfill our appetite and cut calorie intake. Results of a Penn State research paper may suggest just that.
  • Also, applying herbs to our meals, like rosemary, helps improve brain functions.

People in the village of Acciaroli in Italy, where 10% of inhabitants are centenarians, are said to have blood circulations of the likes of 20-30 year olds. Their daily intake is a mix of home-reared rabbits and chickens, olive oil, home-grown vegetables and fruit, as well as rosemary and other herbs. Read more about this joint study by Sapineza University and the Sandiego School of Medicine.

14. Take a quick vacation

Working non-stop for long periods of time is bound to make us dull.

Refreshing our perspective with new surroundings gives us a new wave of energy we can ride on for a while.

As a rule, it’s best to get away every 3-months. Even if it’s a weekend getaway, it will help our brain recharge and rewire by being influenced with new surroundings and navigational obstacles.

While our brain is trying to readjust to its new surroundings, it is processing its previous engagements, thus helping us become more creative upon return.

“For a More Creative Brain, Travel” is a great article by Brent Crane on “The Atlantic” about the link between creativity and traveling.

Ideally, it’s recommended to travel as far as we can from our familiar surroundings.

Traveling is pointless, if the culture/subculture we are visiting is similar to ours.

If due to various limitations we cannot travel too far, it’s best to get away at least 100 miles away from our town.

You may visit a nearby city and experience its history and culture.

In a nutshell:

  • Get away at least every 3-months.
  • Fly, take the train, car, or bus.
  • Go at least 100-miles away from your town.
  • Sleep somewhere else other than your house.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Look at nothing, say nothing, think nothing.
  • Experience something new. Airbnb has a whole new section on experiences your can partake.
  • Take a guided tour
  • If you stay long enough in your home, the walls will start closing in, no matter how big your house is.
  • Upon comeback you will love the smell of your house and feel recharged to work for another 3 months.

15. Stop complaining and start forgetting

Though it’s great to vent once in a while, we must also learn to forget. Imagine a computer running out of spaces because of the unnecessary files. It’s good to purge once in a while.

Key is to forget the event but never the lesson.

Reliving a demoralizing experience will hinder us. Forgetting and letting go will help us experience life anew. Dr. Judith Rich, further elaborates on the topic of Conscious Forgetting.

Our brain’s plasticity allows us to rewire it in any way we can. Read more about “What is brain plasticity and why is it so important?” by Duncan Banks Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences, The Open University.

We have the power to drastically alter our outlook in life and allow ourselves to excel anew, every day.

16. Have self-control

To succeed, we must control our impulses and do things that lead us towards our goal. It’s Ok to let go on the weekends, but if you’re involved with something you truly love, it’s Ok to make it a part of your life and your family.

Our families can be a great resource of inspiration.

Work and life are not two different things. They are the same manifestation if we are willing to invite success in our lives.

Practice self-control to achieve your wildest goals, like Nathan DeWall did (Professor of Psychology and Director of Social Psychology Lab, University of Kentucky). Professor Nathan taught himself to run +100-mile marathons. Something so outrageous considering his sedentary life up to that point.

Summing it all up

This entire article explored tools and techniques on how to bring ourselves in an inspired state so we can perform better, daily.

Among other things we talked about were:

  • Setting Goals: Ultimate goals and daily tasks
  • Eliminating noise: External and internal
  • Music: Using music as motivation
  • The power of being grateful: Shifting weight from our shoulders
  • Exercising: Running and neurogenesis
  • Sharing your obstacles with others: Bouncing ideas
  • Taking a break and walking around: Letting go for a day
  • Laughing: “Getting out of our heads”
  • Financial planning: Planning to succeed
  • Being in a Beautiful state: Feeling empowered and energized
  • Compartmentalizing: Starting big and thinking small
  • Inspiring others towards success: Seeing others succeed will motivate us
  • Watching motivational videos: Stimulating our positive senses and being inspired
  • Making our goals public: Telling everyone we have arrived and sharing our goals
  • Hanging out with positive people: Feeling the good energy all around us
  • Eating healthy: Maintaining our good energy
  • Traveling: Feeling inspired
  • Forgetting: Lessons learned and moving on
  • Practicing self-control: Grit as our main weapon

More ideas

Besides the broader undertakings from above, there are a few more tricks which we can utilize to help ourselves succeed.

Nothing will stop us when we’re fully dedicated to having a successful presence in the world.

Breathing

Mindful breathing has numerous benefits. Among others, it increases happiness, improves sleep, regulates cortisol (our body’s stress hormone), strengthens our immunity, and more. Emma Seppälä, PhD has a full infographic on all benefits of mindful breathing.

Push-ups

The benefits of a push-up are numerous. Just to name a few: It increases vitality, improves our posture, it improves and prevents lower back injuries (perfect for all of us chair-sitters), it enhances our blood circulation, and it’s FREE.

Gardening

Gardening is one of those activities that helps us witness first hand “What you sow, you will reap”. Gardening is meditative, physical, thoughtful, caring. Experiencing these emotions makes us feel great about our well-being. Conspiring with nature to help a seed grow into a fruit producing plant is a life altering moment.

Closing thoughts

Everything we do in our daily lives must have a purpose that fully benefits ourselves and our loved ones.

Although there are times when we’re engaged with something less than ideal, it’s imperative that we work towards a better tomorrow.

Working hard and having a positive outlook is magical.

It costs nothing to visualize our dreams as if they’re real. The more we “feel” our goals as real, the sooner our actions will turn them into reality.

Read more in

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The Claritask Framework

The Claritask Framework

Claritask is a project management framework dedicated for creative agencies in design, marketing, advertising, development, digital. Visit Claritask.com to learn more.

Posts mostly written by Val Sopi, Founder.

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