16 Things You’re Really Feeling When You’re Feeling Uninspired
Inspiration is necessary for so many things: work, play, relationships, hobbies, self-improvement… sometimes, with all this inspiration being burned off so quickly, we can get burned out all too easily. But there are actually many different reasons for why you might be feeling uninspired on any given day. If you’re feeling sapped of creative juices but don’t know why, consider some of the below explanations. You might be any one of the following:
Sometimes the reason for your mysterious mental fatigue isn’t that mysterious at all; it’s just actual fatigue. When you haven’t been sleeping well, your brainpower is at a low ebb and the simplest tasks can feel like the mental and emotional equivalent of running a marathon.
There’s a reason the word “hangry” has become a trendy buzzword recently. Hunger often spawns anger, which spawns frustration and unproductiveness. How can you possibly be productive when all you can think about is how you’re not currently eating? How can you be inspired when you have more problems than anyone else in the world right now? YOUR LIFE IS SO HARD AND IT’S KILLING YOUR PRODUCTIVITY! Maybe you should eat something.
Maybe you could do whatever it is you’re trying to do without that much effort, but you just don’t care enough to do it. Sometimes, we can summon ideas if we really put our minds to it, but the problem is that we don’t want to put our minds to it. Sadly, it’s all too easy to be “uninspired” when you couldn’t care less.
Could the reason for your foot-dragging be that this task you’re trying to accomplish is actually too easy? Perhaps it only feels difficult because you subconsciously think that it’s beneath you, that it’s a waste of your time, that you could be doing so many more worthwhile things that the effort it would take to complete this task isn’t even worth it. If this is the case, look for ways that you can do more engaging, challenging work, either in your professional, academic or personal life.
What if you do this thing you’ve been putting off for weeks and it doesn’t turn out perfect? It’s possible that your supposed lack of inspiration is really just anxiety and fear related to not living up to other people’s — or your own — expectations. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, and it’s pretty likely that no one in your life expects you to be perfect, either. Do what you need to do without the fear of failure dragging you down.
6. You’re Distracted
Being spread too thin is a perfectly legitimate reason for being uninspired. It may not be that you have no inspiration; the problem might just be that you’ve already splashed out so much creativity and effort elsewhere that you have none left for all the other things you’re supposed to be doing. If you feel distracted and drained, try taking on less work so you can fully focus on the most important things at hand.
7. You Don’t Know What Your Priorities Are
Having two dozen things to do and no clear idea of which is more important can result in inspirational lockjaw. When everything is important, what do you start first? When nothing is that important, what can you leave until last? You might become more inspired if you find a way to prioritize and communicate with others about what you need to be doing. Giving yourself permission to ignore a less important thing in favor of a more important one is a great way to relieve pressure and allow your mind to wander (in a good way).
8. Too Constrained
If you do the same thing over and over again, your inspirational well can run dry quite easily. When people complain about not feeling inspired, sometimes all they need is to do something different for a while. If you’re a blogger, try doing a craft project instead of writing. If you’re a photographer, try baking something. If you’re doing research for an academic paper, put it down and read a fictional novel purely for enjoyment, or even try researching something else just for fun. Doing something you enjoy (and that breaks you out of your rut) will help spark your creativity and enthusiasm.
Do you have a deadline for whatever you’re doing? If not, you might simply be feeling aimless. Many people, for example, often find that they come up with their most creative ideas under the gun — although, as this article from the Harvard Business Review points out, too many deadlines and expectations can kill inspiration.
10. Overly Disciplined
See above; tight deadlines take a physical and emotional toll that often burn people out very quickly.
11. Neglectful of Yourself
Neglecting your own needs — whether it’s basic needs like sleep or emotional needs like taking time to relax and not work — leads to burnout. You might still have tons of fresh ideas buried in your brain, but you’re never going to dig them out if you’re not taking care of yourself. Even worse, your idea-filled brain knows when you’re neglecting yourself, and it’ll probably get resentful. You can’t find inspiration if you’re sitting there stewing about all the things you’d rather be doing right now.
Like number 3 on this list, lack of engagement often translates to a “Why bother?” attitude, although in this case it’s less about not seeing the point of your final product and more about not feeling connected to whatever it is you’re doing. If you fully understand the significance of what you’re doing but aren’t personally interested in the subject matter, that can remove a lot of inspiration from the equation.
13. Too Serious
Why so serious? Seriously, why? Taking yourself and your tasks too seriously only leads to thoughts like, “It will literally be the end of the world if I don’t get this done” or “My life is over if I don’t finish this in the next two hours.” Thinking things like that make you paralyzed and afraid you won’t finish in time and that the world will then end due to your lack of inspiration, which only makes you more paralyzed and uninspired. It’s like a never-ending time loop of seriousness.
14. “The Grass is Always Greener” Syndrome
You would be full to the brim with inspiration — some might even say overflowing with inspiration — if only you had a cool job like NASA engineer or fashion designer or craft brewer. Except if you were a NASA engineer you’d probably wish you had a normal desk job so you didn’t have to deal with all this pressure that’s totally stifling your creativity, and if you were a fashion designer you’d be worrying about all the upstart new fashion school graduates breathing down your neck, and if you were a craft brewer you’d be up to your elbows in yeast and worrying about the fact that you still haven’t come up with a catchy name and flavor for your next small-batch, limited edition beer because you just don’t have any inspiration left. The yeast has stolen all your inspiration, and you’ll never get it back.
Depression is a serious disorder that interferes with daily life. Those who feel consistently uninspired, tired, hopeless, sad and uninterested may be suffering from more than just a lack of inspiration; it might be something that requires professional help and should be given immediate attention.
It might seem ridiculous that you don’t know whether you’re really uninspired or not, but sometimes, people get so used to a certain feeling that they become resigned to it and expect it whether they’re actually feeling it or not. The next time you sit down to a task and automatically think, “I can’t do this,” take a minute to assess the situation. Have you actually tried to make a start and been stymied, or have you gone into the task already thinking that you can’t do it? If the latter, work on ways to dump your old habit of making “lack of inspiration” your default mode and come back to the task with a fresh state of mind.