The balance between feeling inspired and taking action

3 reasons to go on an Inspiration Diet

I am a champion in taking on new passions, whether it is building a pond in the garden when I was a kid (I only dug a hole and then left it for good, on to a new exciting project!), running a marathon, horseback riding, writing, my new fountainpen hobby, or learning how to kitesurf.

Everywhere you are, whether on the web or in real life there is inspiration. TED talks, blogs, Vimeo movies, blogs or films about people that cycle the world, cross the oceans, create interesting projects for charity or take beautiful photographs to name just a few.

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My friend Christiaan and me, when I helped him move his family to Norway

But I decided to call it quits, at least for a moment. I decided to go on an inspiration DIET.

My new rule is to read and watch less, not more (except books). Like carbon emissions being neutralized by buying green points, only now I am not buying trees, but real action for every hour spent on inspiration feeds, created by others. Call it Do-points.

The goal — to focus more on stepping onto the field myself, and here’s why:

Reason 1: Inspiration does not last

The other day I read about an American who is doing 50 triathlons in 50 days for child obesity; his wife and 5 kids are following him in a camper. On his Facebook pics and blog you can join and support him in the effort … he is still going strong! Then I browsed further: a friend starting a film school in Africa. Next, on to a famous TED talk about vulnerability. I feel psyched, inspired and then I go home convinced that I am going to change things! It feels good for a few hours. And then it stops.

Reason 2: Taking action is doing

My friend Christiaan moved to Norway. It is cold but his house overlooks the Fjord.

My friend Christiaan moved to Norway. It is cold but his house overlooks the Fjord.

Time to take action: take on projects, make art, live in another City -like my friend Chris- or start a company, there is lots to do! Personal transformation does not happen overnight. It takes making an effort, and often there is anxiety, fear of how we may look, embarrassment and even pain to make things work in the end. I am the kind (as I know by now) of person that is 90% inspiration, and 10% transpiration. But slowly it’s sinking in that getting results takes hard work, often less inspiring in itself.

For example, I wanted to swim 2K in a charity event in Amsterdam. The start of a new beginning. I took up swimming and celebrated by posting a picture of my new bathing suit & goggles and many people congratulated me. Let the games begin! My journey in the swimming pool appeared to be a long, cold and wet irritating story. Being in the pool in April and May was no fun at all.

Being able to do 4 laps of breaststroke without stopping took me 3 months. I realized why I never liked swimming when I was young. All of this seemed so far away, from the pictures of people being applauded, while finishing and afterwards drinking glasses of victorious beer.

Ideas are Easy — says podcaster Casey Neistat in this talk. It’s all about the execution, getting it done. And it took Casey more than 10 years to be the YouTube hero is now. It takes 10 years to be an overnight success, as they say in Hollywood.

Reason 3: the power of consistency

The idea of starting new passion is more fun than the long lonely, hard and tedious journey of actually doing it.

Without consistency, doing things over and over: no lasting result is achieved. I must be honest, I am a champion in taking on new passions, whether it is building a pond in the garden when I was a kid (I only dug a hole and then left it for good, on to a new exciting project!), running a marathon, horseback riding, writing, my new fountain pen hobby, or learning how to kitesurf.

How do you get consistent? It’s doing something you truly love. Putting one foot in front of the other, until slowly something may happen: walls are being erected, something tangible is created, perhaps people look and take notice. Maybe not. But that is not the idea anyways. For me, the idea is to do something I am proud of and makes me fulfilled. It turned out to be writing, for one. Which I do for years now. And coaching of course.

Conclusion

By just being inspired you do not change the world, yours or that of others. What do successful do-ers have in common? They have one (sometimes crazy) plan and just enough commitment to follow through.

It does not always have to be amazing. Just turn in some work — stick with it — and amazing results may be what you end up with. Instead of being inspired by what others do.

To be honest, this article (first published in 2015 on Medium) was (partly) inspired in part by Maria Popovo of Brainpickings.org on the Tim Ferriss’ podcast. I listened to her, and hell, I needed to write and do something!