Often times we are taught to be motivated and determined. Otherwise, we would not achieve much in life. If you live from this paradigm, everything in your life will go just to prove how true this premise is. You will see people who are not as motivated ending up achieving very little and struggling a lot in life. You will see those who are hard-headed with an eat-or-be-eaten attitude move on from one achievement to other. The latter are celebrated while the former are seen as inferior.
As true as this principle may seem it is more of a trap that manipulates not only your actions and lifestyle but also your perception. It will highlight certain things in life while pushing away many more other elements so you don’t get to notice them.
If you have never explored another approach to life and how to be a great achiever in it, you may want to open up to another perspective that will challenge you to the core. It is easier to dismiss this new view but it pays off immensely to give it a fair chance. The motivation standpoint keeps you trapped in a pattern of striving but never arriving. You always want more and feel the need to achieve more. One the work is done, it is celebrated for a moment then the rat race starts again.
The new proposition I am offering you in this piece of writing is drastically different. It speaks a different language, the quantum language if you like. It is a departure from your usual view just as much as quantum mechanics is a departure from Newtonian physics. Yet it works. It doesn’t speak the language of quantity, but quality. It is not about doing many things. It is about doing what matters.
Let’s first have a closer look at the paradigm of motivation; the one most of us are stuck in. It assumes you have to meet external expectations. You might think you have a considerable sense of autonomy about what you do, but the fact is that all this is internalized expectations from the outside world. There are certain parameters and expectations we are supposed to meet or exceed to be classified as successful. These are set by other people; usually those who have a high sense of competition and who are proud of their ego’s external achievements. And since their achievements didn’t give them the fulfillment they were searching for, they tried to get that feeling by looking at themselves through the lens of comparison. When you compare yourself to someone who has done less than you, you feel good about yourself for a short time. But just like addiction, you never get enough of that and you want to do it more and in bigger doses. Others assume that such people are living a satisfying life. This is how the halo effect works.
Someone is good at one thing, you tend to assume he is good at everything. Eventually this expectation finds its way into the collective culture and dominates society. We tend to internalize it and try our best to live by it.
Where does this lead us to? Well, as humans we have a tendency to conform and are scared of being different. We often associate being different with being wrong. This is the power of social influence. This fear is the root of our motivation. We are scared of social disapproval and we internalize the social view we think we have choice when in fact we have just internalized it to the exclusion of our own uniqueness and calling. This is where the sense of autonomy comes from.
In fact, this is how the motivation system is formed and this is its basic structure. Very impressive! Ha?
The Inspiration Alternative
Here I offer you a completely different system that is almost impossible to figure out as long as you are trapped in the former system of motivation. It takes courage and comfort with uncertainty to breakthrough and move on to inspiration. When you look at inspiration from the land of motivation you will be tempted to mock, scoff, and look down upon. This is the trick of the old system to keep you compliant and under control. Yes inspiration is much more powerful and is the only way you can find true fulfilment and a genuine sense of achievement. But it is a different type of power and you can’t start to appreciate it unless you start breaking loose from the grip of motivation. You have to wean yourself off the grasp of the old system so your perception is freed and able to see beyond the limitation of your traditional mental frames.
So what is inspiration and where does it come from?
We humans, just like nature, are naturally deliberate and full of intent. But we don’t give ourselves the chance to recognize this nature and live by it effortlessly. This nature is inspiration.
If motivation is your ego’s primary drive to act and achieve, inspiration is the product of your heart and soul. It acts seamlessly and effortlessly. unlike motivation, it doesn’t act from a place of lack and need, but from a state of abundance. It doesn’t act with the fear of failure but from a position of certainty that what it tries to accomplish is in the making and is on its way. It doesn’t act on the fear that things may not go the way it wants. It is more a position of surrender and openness than a position of control. It is more about allowing things to happen than making them happen. It comes from a deeper place within and reflects more the innermost part of who we are.
How can you shift from Motivation to Inspiration?
Have you ever been in a situation where you had some kind of an interview or performance and you were nervous so you rehearsed a hundred times what you were supposed to say and do? Then when you were put on the spot you ended up dumping everything you prepared and acted on your instinct and it turned out perfect? This is an example of inspiration taking over and saving your day.
It is possible to shift to inspiration on a regular basis where it becomes the primary force of your life’s decisions and plans. Inspiration is not only a driving force but a whole system of life. It clears your perception, deepens you insight, awakens your dormant forces and empowers your ethical nature.
The first step in this process is to recognize your spiritual nature and to empower it as opposed to living your life merely from the view of your being a physical entity that lives in a physical world. This recognition entails that you start seeing your self primarily as a spiritual being, paying more attention to your inner life and listening to the voice of your heart. This cannot be left for wishful thinking. You have to build a lifestyle around this to guarantee you don’t fall back to your old ways dominated by fear and motivation.
Start the shift by creating a morning routine that you stick to every day. This routine will set the vibe for your day and eventually your overall lifestyle. For more details on this kind of morning routine I will be writing a future article on this insha’Allah.
Revise your choices in life: You may have to double check if you were living your true story or just acting out a script that was has handed to you in one way or another. Each one of us comes to this world with a story to unfold. We must be in tune with our true self in order to discover our true story and and bring our uniques contribution to the world. For more details on this watch this video.
Decide to live from your heart and challenge your fears: What keeps us small and compliant are our doubts and fears. Most of them are not real and need to be challenged. Fear is one of the main detriments to inspirations and to living an inspired life.
Learn to relax and let go. Relaxation is a powerful tool that helps us realize that there is more within us that we don’t know about. Motivation gives us the impression that if we don’t rush to act and do, we would lead a life of laziness and slack. Nothing is far from the truth. Laziness is not a natural state of man. It is a defence mechanism against some trauma or fear. Our nature is gracefully active and productive and it is this nature that I encourage you to nurture and grow.
Contemplate and rehearse the end of your stay in this world. Thinking from the end changes your perspective. It sheds down external parameters and gives you an insight into what really matters to you.
The whole Rashidoon model offers a way to live an inspired life rather than stay stuck in the rat race, life as we know it.