Facing the Fall: 4 Sources to Boost Fall-Time Inspiration and Productivity
Fall has officially touched down, accompanied with reminders that winter is in queue. As the season shifts, so do mindsets. People become amped about closing the final quarter of the year and gearing up for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Yet, for some, this season might be met with strong sentiments—feelings of mental fatigue and weariness from things like mounting to-do lists and year-end burnout. Consequently, it’s crucial to identify the pros and cons faced during this season in order to get over any hurdles that may get in the way of productivity and inspiration.
Regardless of your profession, we all could use a dose of inspiration to keep us propelling forward and staying healthy in mind, body, soul and spirit. There’s definitely no fixed formula to achieving this and beating the autumn blues or fall-time slumber that creeps in, but for those hoping to be more effective while making this season one filled with more meaning and success, I'm happy to direct you to a few sources to help fuel inspiration in your work and study life.
SOURCE #1: Reflection
Some of the greatest ideas and inspirations spark in the mind. Oftentimes, they stem from one thought or a stream of them when reflecting—subconsciously, at times. Whether you've begun working on a project or task, or have considered embarking on creating something new, taking the time to reflect on things such as past experiences and the subjects that closely resonate with you can leave you feeling inspired. What may have started off as a simple thought, could eventually shape into a line of questioning and exploration that leads you to something much more profound and innovative.
Have you come across a specific news article or an artist who gave you deeper insight about a topic of interest or helped create a unique feeling or mood? Use that as a source of inspiration. Try identifying the thoughts and feelings you experience during this time of intentional reflection. As you ask yourself deliberate questions, jot down answers and ideas that strike you the most. Also, make note of the "insignificant" ones, they can be just as important. Simple ideas can eventually become the center of your next big project.
Before considering to search further, trust what your mind brings to the table. Find a comfortable and personal space where you can spend quality time reflecting. Document your ideas in your notebook, sketchpad, phone or tech device. Try using online tools such as AirTable, Bubbl.us, Coggle, or Lucidchart, which assist with brainstorming. Writers may particularly enjoy using an affordable tool like VisualThesaurus, a visually interactive dictionary/thesaurus.
SOURCE #2: Conversation
How many times have you had a conversation with someone that left you feeling either enlightened, equipped or challenged? Conversations like these are extremely beneficial. If after reflecting, you haven't quite found an idea that has made an impression, talking about it with another individual could be the solution. It could be a conversation with one person or a group. It could be with an expert in a specific industry, or it could be with a colleague or family member. It could also be as formal or as informal as you'd like it to be. Nevertheless, these types of conversations allow you to challenge personal perspectives, gain stronger insight based on the knowledge and experiences of others, and gather a wealth of new information and ideas.
In some cases, you may need to budget in order to invest in certain forms of conversation such as in-conversation events that feature an industry-based guest panel, or a scheduled consultation period with an experienced individual or a professional within or beyond your field of study or practice.
If budget serves as a barrier, you can never go wrong speaking with those in your network who are willing and available to offer great information at a low cost. Consider approaching a trusted friend or a family member. Express gratitude by returning the favour or offering something meaningful in exchange for the information shared. This, too, can be an alternate form of compensation.
With the popularity of digital platforms, social media can also be helpful in this area. Raising a certain topic of discussion in a Facebook group, on your personal or business Facebook page, and on Twitter or on LinkedIn can raise responses from a diverse group of online users. The comment section can also become your new best friend!
Make note of the feedback and responses that stem from your online interactions and don't be hesitant to utilize them if they offer you inspiration. Similarly, going live on Facebook and Instagram can enable you to host a video conference and interact with your digital network in realtime.
SOURCE #3: Research
Research can be an intimidating or daunting task if it's not your strong suit, but redefining your approach to it can be extremely useful. Some of us have had negative experiences looking for credible sources, gathering accurate information, and digging up meaningful data. This can happen, however, don't allow concerns driven by uncertainty and fear to hinder you from tackling the research process. Research is such an integral instrument—it can be used as a strong starting point and a powerful tool for creativity and development. It can help you discover an idea or help develop and strengthen an existing one.
Research can also be as interesting as a you choose to make it. Avoid limiting yourself to one platform. What may work for one person might not be as effective in your case, and vice versa. Find what works for you. If you're a visual learner, watch documentaries, professional YouTube videos and TED Talks. Visit libraries, museums, and galleries. Listen to podcasts such as Creative Waffle, Design Matters, School of Greatness and The GaryVee Audio Experience. Study your favourite artist or icon, learn about their stories, their inspirations, techniques and the mediums they use to innovate and impact. Google, Google, Google! Turn to some of the online networks mentioned in point #2. Create a free survey using SurveyMonkey and share it with a focused group or a wide network in order to gain more insight about your subject of interest.
Nevertheless, be intentional while researching. Keep in mind, the purpose of your project or task and remember what you're aiming to achieve with the information you access. Consider how flexible you can be in this process. If you're in a highly specialized, corporate, or academic field, your research may be informed by specific standards, guidelines, policies or procedures. Adhere to them while remaining open to drawing inspiration from unconventional sources to help strengthen all the information you compile. Be sure to maintain originality and credit sources appropriately.
SOURCE #4: Travel
The final source of inspiration is travel. Traveling beyond the walls of your home, neighbourhood, city or country can be life-changing. Sometimes, all it takes is a bit of distance and the desire to venture away from daily routines and familiar spaces that you've grown accustomed to being in. This isn't always comfortable, but pushing, seeing, and experiencing beyond the usual can lead to a greater understanding of the world you live in, its diversity and your connectedness to others.
Things such as nature, architecture, culture, geography and history can all be discovered through traveling. While catching a flight sounds loaded with fun, travel doesn't necessarily have to mean vacationing or journeying globally. It can be both accessible and affordable. If you normally travel by vehicle, choose to venture out by taking a stroll. Experience the same route in a different way. Choose to map out an alternate path to a common location.
Photograph, record, sketch, document and collect things along the way that capture your attention. Feel, smell, hear, talk and taste. Meet people and collect souvenirs that will remind you of your journeys. Learn from others about places that can become potential travel sites for you to visit and uncover inspiration.
If the fear of exploring independently beyond your city, province, state or country has limited you from venturing out, do your research about different locations. Find answers to the questions that address and eliminate your uncertainties. Book the safest traveling accommodations. Travel with a partner who you know and trust, or explore your travel destination with a professional tour guide. Rather than spending time second-guessing, take the chance to embark on new experiences.
You may choose to try out one, two or all four of the sources listed to inspire you as you generate new ideas and begin creating. Whichever source you turn to for that extra hint of inspiration, let it be one that works for you.
Stay blessed and continue being inspired!
If you've drawn inspiration from a source that wasn't listed, we'd love to hear about it. If you've been inspired through reflection, conversation, research or travel we welcome you to describe your experience in the comment section below. Finally, if you know anyone searching for that final quarter boost of inspiration, feel free to share these four sources!