The downside of inspiration

by on

A client of mine was recently bit by the bug of inspiration.

Only to see that bug bite her in the ass.

It’s something I’ve seen before. Not only in my clients, but also in myself.

Inspiration is a beautiful thing.

But there’s also a downside that can keep you as stuck as you were before all those ideas burst forth from your imagination effortlessly.

As far as I can see, there are three major obstacles that come along with inspiration:


It doesn’t last.

You might push yourself to set unrealistic goals.

You can’t rely on inspiration to show up when you need it.

This is exactly what happened to my client.

After a long spell of procrastination, doubt, and feeling stuck, inspiration made an appearance. She felt great – free, creative, full of ideas, viewing her career goals through the lens of possibility.


Because she had been so entrenched in procrastination, she felt “behind.” She had an idea in her head of where she is “supposed to be” and decided that she needed to “catch up.”

(I have been guilty of this. How about you?)

She used the energy and motivation of her inspiration to set goals. In fact, she fell victim to one of the subconscious mind’s most sneaky tactic: unrealistic goals.

She (unwittingly) set herself up for failure by creating a to do list that was impossible to achieve in the time frame she chose.

So what happened?

She started to take action. But as the week went on, she got busy with other things, she hit an obstacle or two, and when it became clear that she was not going to reach the (unrealistic, impossible) goals she had committed to, she simply gave up.


The inspiration that had created her to do list in the first place was gone.

That led to…

You guessed it. Doubt, frustration, and increased procrastination.

Because if you set out to do something and you fail, then why bother doing anything at all?

This is the downside of inspiration.

Why does this happen?

It seems to me the more important a goal is, the harder the subconscious mind fights against allowing us to have it. This fight shows up as procrastination, excuses, getting too busy, forgetfulness, fear, doubt, anxiety and any other “reason” – no matter how reasonable it may seem, that keeps you from taking action.

After a wild flash of inspiration, whereby you skip over the doubting mind into a place of pure creation and possibility, the doubting mind will jump in as quickly as possible to keep you from moving in that direction. Because it’s comfortable and safe there.

Going in the direction of your dreams is anything but.

So what can you do to stop this post-inspiration self sabotage?

Here are a few tips I gave to my client, which I’ll pass onto you (shh…don’t tell anyone)…

Under commit (over deliver)action

Rather than committing to an unrealistic to do list, then mentally beating yourself up for not getting it done, commit to less.

Many small businesses live by the credo “Under Commit, Over Deliver” – which means promise what you know you can deliver effortlessly, then wow your customers with more than they would’ve expected.

When it comes to your to do list, commit to what you KNOW you can get done no matter what happens that week. The fact that you accomplish what you set out to do will…wait for it…inspire you to do more.

While you build the muscles of discipline and consistency, start with a small commitment and build upon it over time.

The results will be much better than if you over commit and under deliver.

Get (and stay) accountable

Get a buddy or join a group.  Get a coach (*cough) or sign up for a VIP Day (*double cough*).  If you keep your goals to yourself, it’s too easy and too tempting to wriggle out of them.  When someone you trust to hold you accountable is expecting you to make good on your commitments, you are far more likely to step up to the plate.

As one of my business mentors used to say, “No one can do the work for you, but you don’t have to do it alone.”

Take daily action

Even one tiny action today will move you closer to your goals than spending hours in procrastination.  It takes just as much effort to do something as it does to avoid it, so you may as well just do it.

Small daily actions lead to big results.  Or, as the lyrics of the song “Pilgrim” by the band Fink (currently obsessed with this album!) say,

“From small beginnings come big endings.”

While inspiration may be the key that opens your eyes to what is possible, it is consistent action and discipline that get the job done.

Leave a comment.  Have you experienced a greater urge to procrastinate after a bout of inspiration, and how did you overcome the doubting mind?

Want to stay connected + inspired? Join the newsletter

Register to get weekly tools, tips + the What NOT To Do video series.

Previous post:

Next post: