A lot happened in the early 2000’s. After MySpace exploded and the digital age of social networking had become common place, a phrase was being said frequently, “I need a new profile pic.” Selfies became a thing, because there wasn’t always somebody around to take the photo for you. It seemed that you either took a quick picture of yourself standing in front of your bathroom mirror on your point-and-shoot digital camera or you grabbed your flip phone and attempted to take a photo at a flattering angle from up high and then upload it onto your profile. Then there were those snobs who seemed to have these incredible photos of themselves taken by some professional with a “DSLR” and had it “edited” in some photo editing program. Sometimes I was lucky to have my photo taken and professionally edited because we needed “band photos” for our “digital press kit.” Perhaps, over time, I just became accustomed to this level of photo snobbery and that’s why I was inspired to pick up a DSLR myself. Either way, I had a lot of spare time after quitting my band and school and needed a “creative outlet” since I was now just a drifting “artist.”
Since I had this new toy to take more profile pics than I would ever actually need, it only seemed appropriate to attempt to start a photography business. Because it was 2008 and the world was crashing around me, I had plenty of motivation to bring in additional income alongside my day job that I was only getting part time hours from.
I took THOUSANDS of photos. I took my camera every where I went. I had business cards printed, mocked up contracts, and even learned Adobe Lightroom.
After a bad experience of shooting a 14 hour wedding and not being fed, I put my camera down.
The truth is, I like to say that it was the 14 hour wedding that caused me to put the camera down – but the actual truth is that I lost sight of my motivation (that and because I was hangry). I no longer had a motive to stay as involved in my photography business as I did when I started it. I created it for 2 reasons: a creative outlet and income. I no longer needed the additional income after being promoted to full-time at my day job and because I made the business about shooting for other people and how they wanted their photos to look, it was no longer a creative outlet for me. Poof – original motives gone.
And the camera was put in my closet after that 14 hour wedding, never to be picked up again until I sold it off to a friend.
There’s a point to be made here. As well as a clear distinction that I’ve learned we humans tend to often confuse.
Motivation and inspiration are not the same.
Just because we are inspired to do something doesn’t mean we will continue to be motivated to do it.
Motivation often has a bigger purpose – a motive – or a why. It’s our reminder of why we continue to do something long AFTER the inspiration is gone.
Because inspiration WILL leave. But if we say we are committed to something, whether that be a Photographer, CEO, Mother, whatever, we will need to remind ourselves of the bigger picture to remain motivated.
If you currently have not a single clue what your motivation is for wanting something or working towards something then 1 of 2 things need to happen right now: 1. You need to do some self reflecting and figure it out what it is, or, 2. You need to stop. Yes, stop, for everybody’s sake. (As for me and Photography, I only shoot for me now. Not for money and not because anybody asks me to.)
Inspiration will run out. But your motive will keep you going.
Now there’s another important element here, that I want to be certain not to leave out.
I know waaaay too many people who are trapped in a lie and wait around to be inspired.
Going about their daily lives, giving their attention to other things right in front of them. Just waiting for the inspiration to knock on their door and if it does happen to show up, hopefully they happen to be in the right place at the right time to actually break away from their lives and do something about it.
That just all seems way too up to chance to me.
You want to get better at your craft? Allow your motivation to give reason to your discipline.
Create a space.
Plan frequent meetings with inspiration.
Sounds weird, I know. But if you are constantly knocking at inspiration’s door, at some point it’s going to be home.
Isn’t it likely that I become “inspired” more often as a Photographer if my motivation is in perspective and I am creating opportunities to practice? Rather than hoping it will somehow just come to me as I go about my life?
Discipline appears to be the struggle for most of us. Sticking with it, because we either don’t get instant results or we aren’t struck with wondrous inspiration every time.
It’s difficult to stick with because inspiration is often hidden amongst routine and labeled as boring or, even worse: work.
But if our motivation is constantly in perspective, we will be willing to trudge through the mundane until we strike the magnificent.
So, have you fallen into the trap of waiting around to be inspired? Do you truly know your motivation? Have you established a routine that regularly sends out an invitation to inspiration?
If not, what can you do different? What needs to change?