Musing on working and staying inspired

I’m very much a learning-by-doing kind of person. I need a project to give me a reason to explore some new tool or technology. And I’m not that great at contriving projects or problems to solve (outside of this blog). I need the real thing.

Inspiration comes in spurts, and sporadically. My attention wanders. It’s hard to really get into something. Of course once I’m there, nothing feels better than that combination of creation and discovery. And when I’m not, I’ve got that wistful memory of what it was like to be really satisfied by what I was working on. And how my brain felt.

I wonder what it’s like for artists and poets. I wonder how they deal when inspiration lulls. I wonder if their inspiration looks like this: rough sparkline or this: smooth sparkline

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, if I could take a drug that would provide me with more inspiration I probably would. I sound like one of those characters in antiquity who’d trade some future happiness for a particular power in the present.

The problem with being a knowledge worker is that it seems I require almost constant novelty and intellectual satisfaction to stay interested in what I’m doing. And it’s not just that I require it, I expect it. But I start to wonder if these expectations for how I spend my working hours are a little out of touch with the rest of the world. What does it mean to work and be happy?

5 Comments

Sauj

Inspiration is one of those things that we just have to accept waxes and wanes. I find it much easier to stay inspired if I’m pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, or better yet; having someone else challenging me.

Grace

See, I do understand. I understand what you mean by being a learn-by-doing kind of person. So am I. I am not very inspired at this time in my life. I know I need inspiration in my life to keep me focused on life period. I have someone who inspires me. I thought I inspired him. He doesn’t seem too inspired lately. Maybe I don’t inpire him as much as I thought. Since I am not inspired, I not even very intellectual at this time.
It is better to have some to have someone
inspire you, than any kind of drug.

Stephen

I feel inspired all day and every day by my work. I am a Psychiatrist working with children and adolescents. Every person I meet is complex, interesting and inspirational, especially if I spend enough time with each one to learn not only about them but also a little more about myself. Nothing is more inspirational than people, emotions and relationships. Never seen any artists or authors inspired by technology in any form.

Big question, and a very articulate post on the topic. I hope you post more as you explore this. I have similar questions about my own life.

In case you’re not familiar with it, you might like the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “Flow” was a profound book; haven’t read it in years, but this post reminded me of it.

Piero

The cliché is that you know you are ‘happy’ at work when you no longer call it work, right?! But how true is that for most? I have friends that a 9-to-5ers and are happy as pigs in mud with their work, because they don’t make it mean mor than the hours they spend there – they then fill the rest of their lives with the stuff of life which makes their heart sing. I recall one in particular who was a ‘tech strategist’ by day and a belly dancer by night. Other friends I have need to make work ‘aligned’ with their ‘values’ and be 110% focused to be a ‘lean forward’ type of person and this bring them happiness with their work. Who’s is right? I guess both a little. For me – as long as I am being challenged, laughing along the way and working with people I respect – then I know I’m doing ok on the happiness/work front.

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