Getting inspiration can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially for creatives. It is normal to look for inspiration from others or seek enlightenment from those who have experienced things that we have not. There’s nothing wrong in that. This helps us to be better rounded individuals with a more diverse perspective. We should not ignore a source of inspiration much closer to home though – our past.
Why should anyone look to the past of all places for inspiration? The answer is simple. Our future is uncertain but our past is a treasure chest of experiences, emotions and memories that could hold the key to our progress.
Getting inspiration from past mistakes
One of the biggest hindrances to reflecting on our past is that it reminds us of all the mistakes we have made. Although we can learn from these experiences they carry with them unpleasant memories that we may be reluctant to revisit. Nevertheless , remembering our mistakes is one of the best methods of discouraging us from repeating them. Analysis of what did not work can play a major role in discovering what does work. This is the whole purpose of experimentation.
Reflecting on the past may seem counterproductive since it cannot be changed. We already know what happened and what the outcome was so looking back may seem like a futile trip down memory lane. As such this must not be conducive to making progress in life right? While dwelling too much on the past can definitely have a negative effect on our personal progress and productivity, totally ignoring it can have a similar effect. We must reach a personal balance.
The consequences of today are determined by the actions of the past. To change your future, alter your decisions today. – Unknown
Getting inspiration from past successes
Everyone changes over time but not all changes are for the best. We may have done some of our more inspired work in the past. Conditions may have been more favourable back then. We may want to rediscover our most productive form or adopt good habits we have long since lost. We may not be able to turn back the hands of time but we can remember the good qualities in ourselves which we want to reignite.
Our views of the world and people in general may also change over time. We may have become less trusting of people or more reserved. Attributes which protect our emotions but hinder our growth may be holding us back from reaching our full potential. Taking the positives from our past and using them in a venture of self improvement can be a vital part of our progress.
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell
Getting inspiration while recovering lost passions
Life changes can take us away from our passions. Our priorities may change over time. Distractions may steal our focus away from the activities we are passionate about. It may not be too late to actively pursue these passions. This could be playing a sport, playing an instrument or even an artistic hobby. Reflection may uncover incentives to pick it up activities that we are good at or love once more.
Getting reacquainted with the activities we love can be a welcome reunion. It can be especially therapeutic when we are down or feel that something is missing in our life. It can also be a good distraction from the more stressful activities of life such as a difficult job. Doing something that we once loved does not only have a nostalgic value; it can build confidence and remind us of our self-worth.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Looking forward to the becoming better
The whole point of seeking inspiration is to improve ourselves, our abilities or our situation. Reflecting on the past may seem like a step backward but it isn’t. It can be a pre-emptive action to get the best out of the present and future versions of ourselves. It should be the first step in a much longer journey of self improvement. We should not dwell on the past and become consumed by the negative aspects of it. However, it is equally as imperative that we learn from our immediate and distant past to become the best that we possibly can.