By Jeff Headrick, Financial Planner
How to Stay Inspired
Do you ever wish you knew how to stay inspired? At Inspire Financial Planning, we’re concerned about keeping you inspired for investing. But we are also concerned about keeping you inspired for life.
Every morning I get up at 4 a.m. I do some light reading, make myself a delicious organic breakfast, and then work out for an hour. I also spend some time journaling before I wake-up my wife to serve her breakfast in bed.
Actually, none of this is true. Over the course of the year my wake-up time varies between 5:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. depending on my mood, my fatigue, and whatever other force I am allowing to make me break from a near perfect morning routine. What’s the problem? I can’t stay inspired—which begs the question: “How do we stay inspired?”
I have known people over the course of my life who have no problem staying inspired. Some were in the Marines, some were phenomenally successful business professionals, and some were from the greatest generation. We’ve all come across them at different times in our lives.
One of these inspired individuals, we’ll call him “Randy,” is one of the most inspired individuals I have ever known. He has a great marriage of nearly twenty years, three beautiful kids, tons of friends, and makes it to church nearly every Sunday. Oh, and I forgot to mention he’s a very successful businessman.
I ask him once, “How do you stay inspired?” I can’t remember his answer exactly, but the jest of it was: he didn’t really know. He just was. While I am a believer in Christ, I do feel that God has wired us all differently. Call it DNA or whatever, some people struggle with daily motivation and inspiration, and some people do not. If you're one of those who do not, you can quit reading about here. For the rest of you, please read on and we can grow together as we explore how to stay inspired.
Most Inspiring Sermon
One day I was in church with Randy. We were both there with our families enjoying another Sunday. The title of the sermon was : “Feed the Good Dog”
The pastor had a belief that we all have two voices speaking to us at all times. One, was good. The other, not so good. It’s almost as if the devil is on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Both are speaking to us trying to influence our decisions.
But which one do we listen to?
If you want to stay inspired, you listen to the good dog most of the time. I think that most anyone would agree with that. While you may miss out on some short term excitement listening to the good dog, it’s probably the best route to go over the long haul.
But just knowing that we all have these inner voices influencing us is huge. You have to train yourself to listen to the voice that you should listen to—not the necessarily the voice that’s yelling the loudest.
1. How Do You Stay Inspired? Feed the Good Dog
The good dog has to be fed. That good dog will bark better, longer, and louder if he’s got fuel to run on. Likewise, the bad dog needs to be starved. For example, if the company you keep is continually influencing you in a negative way, you may need to cull that relationship.
The good dog needs audio real estate, and the bad dog has to be starved to let the good dog be heard.
The good dog, like you, needs motivation. So, if you have ever wondered how to stay inspired, read on for some specific tactics.
2. Remember Who You Are
Most people who are over the age of 20 or so, have already earned a bit of grit. For example, by the time I was 20, I had lost a beloved aunt to an aneurism, and my father had decided this world was too much for him and took his life. While these circumstances, and others, had caused me a certain amount of pain and grief, they also instilled a “salt” , if you will, of someone perhaps a few years older. I’m sure you have life experiences that you survived to get your grit, too. Just remember that.
Never let anyone talk down to you because you are younger, less experienced, or whatever. Just lean back on who you are—by remembering who you are. You are tough enough for just about any moment—you may just not know it yet.
3. Fear Not
I’m not sure how many times “fear not” is mentioned in the Bible. However, it’s a whole heck of a lot. What I particularly like about the phrase "fear not" in the Bible, is that it’s not usually provided as an option. It’s usually more of a command. As followers of Christ we are called specifically to have no fear. I think it was in the 90s that the “no fear” slogan was brought about in sports campaigns. But it originated thousands of years ago.
4. How to Stay Inspired: Be Strong and Courageous
I’m not sure how many times the words “be strong and courageous” are in the Bible. But it’s a lot, too. Recently I have been reading some very old books like Deuteronomy and Joshua. It motivated and inspired me to hear these words so many times. Obviously, God knows that we need encouragement. In most of the verses that I was reading it is God who tells Moses to be strong and courageous. God is trying to inspire him.
I’ve read a lot of leadership books over the years. I’ve heard a lot of stories. But off the top of my head I can’t think of one single leader in the history of the world-- other than Jesus-- who had a more audacious task than Moses. But I do believe, like most of us, that Moses had his weaknesses as well. He had a good dog and a bad dog. He just chose to listen to the good dog more often than not, and I believe that served him well.
5. Pass it On
Joshua had about 40 years of tutelage under Moses. When Moses’ leadership days were coming to an end, he simply handed the mantle down to Joshua and said these words: be strong and courageous.
Not only can being strong and courageous bless you, but whether you are a stay-at-home mom or the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, passing these positive skills and words of encouragement on down the line should be a goal of every leader. So always remember once you get on a roll—you need to pass on that courageousness.
6. Build a Monument
God also seems to be a fan of feeding the good dog. Several times throughout the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua we find God requiring the Israelites to build monuments along the way. It’s almost as if he knows that these folks are going to need all the encouragement they can get. He wanted them to create these monuments as a testimony to Him, and as a visual representation of a certain event or moment in time.
We Have a Tendency to Forget
Zig Ziglar said it best. Motivation is like bathing. You need to get it every day or eventually you are going to start to stink. No matter how amped up, keyed up, read up, pumped up, or prayed up you become, it too shall pass. And if you’re like most of us, it will pass very quickly.
As human beings we have a tendency to forget. How do we get around this? We build a monument. Maybe we do this by filling up a new journal. Maybe we go out and buy a new T-shirt that inspires us. Maybe we write a song or poem to remind us about some of the good and wonderful things of this life.
Whatever you do, just remember that if you do not build some sort of monument, the likelihood that you will forget some of the best things in life is almost certain.
7. How to Stay Inspired: Drink Deeply from Great Books
John Wooden was one of the greatest coaches who ever lived. His achievements at UCLA from the 60s and 70s are unrivaled to this day. When studying his life many years ago, I read that he was an ardent reader. I believe one of his top two or three keys to success was to drink deeply from great books.
The truth is there has never been a period in history when we had as many motivational books as we do now. And I’m not just talking about self-help books. You may choose a book on your favorite sports hero like Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, or Michael Phelps. Or you may find a classic Western full of stories of determination, hardship, and overcoming adversity. Whatever your flavor, just grab a hot cup of coffee or chai or whatever floats your boat, and read...
The good dog is very literate. And unless you want the bad dog to win more battles than not, I highly recommend drinking deeply and regularly from the best books you can get your hands on.
Here are a few authors that I can personally recommend: Oswald Chambers, Alexander Dumas, Jimmy Buffett, David Jeremiah, Joyce Meyer, and Tony Dungee.
In researching this blog post I came upon this motivational video from Robin Sharma that points to something he calls circulation. Circulation is simply getting out into the world and being a part of it. Yes, you can still circulate with your regular golf buddies that you meet with on the weekend. However, Robin emphasizes the fact that we need to circulate with people that are different from us as well. We need to circulate in different circles, we need to be out and about to stay fresh and to stay invigorated.
Another thing that you can do to stay inspired is self-development. By that I mean, never stop growing. Going back to the story of Moses mentioned earlier, when God decided to take him home at well over the age of 100 Moses was not only still strong but also had perfect eyesight.
No Moses was not the exception. After Moses died Caleb entered the promise land at age 85 stronger than ever. This guy was still warrior. I mention both these old guys for one reason. To let you know that age should not be a barrier to self-development. If there are people in their 60s and 70s who complete in the Iron Man every year in Hawaii, you can go back to school, or learn a new skill whatever age you are.
Nobody’s asking you to do a 1.5 mile ocean swim, a 100+ mile bike ride, and a 26 mile marathon (although, you could probably do this too if you set your mind to it). Just consider developing a mindset of growth and self-development. The better you are, the better you will be for those around you.
10. Physical Fitness
If I had to put a priority on the importance of physical fitness in regard to staying inspired, it would be in the top three. Scientific research shows that without a certain amount of daily physical activity, the mind cannot and will not perform optimally. I have been amazed over the years at how even a leisurely stroll around the office for fifteen or twenty minutes can rejuvenate both mind and body.
Ever heard of Laird Hamilton? Laird is one of the greatest big wave surfers of all time. He takes his fitness very seriously. I read in one of his books how even on his “off” days he goes to the beach to play with his kids or does some other sort of light physical activity in the yard. Physical fitness should be incorporated into everyone’s daily rituals and thank goodness it doesn’t always have to be performed at the gym.
There's No Place Like Wrightsville
My favorite thing to do is to go to the South End of Wrightsville beach—and walk. No extreme surfing, no hot yoga, just good old-fashioned walking. Sometimes I’ll take a couple of 5lb weights. Sometimes I’ll take a couple of 15 lb. weights. When I get bored of that sometimes I’ll carry an eight- pound medicine ball. My point is, this is very light activity, but it will get you out enjoying life, and has so many other ancillary benefits. Throw in your favorite music from Spotify or Pandora, and what could be more motivational than that? Don’t have a beach? Go to the woods. My point is, to stay inspired, get out and move.
11. Take a Road Trip
Road trips are also a great motivator. Especially in the vast country that we live in.
I do not think I have ever been on a road trip of more than an hour, when I did not have at least five or ten minutes of absolute peace. If your road trips don’t do the same for you, perhaps you need to listen to some music. Or, perhaps you could get yourself a great audiobook on a topic you enjoy. Another one of my favorite quotes is:
“You are who you are because of what has went into your mind.” How do you stay inspired? Feed the good dog.
12. Watch a Movie
Movies are an art form. Think about it for a second. If the average movie costs $100 to $150 million to make, it ought to be pretty inspiring. I’m probably showing my age here, but I’ll give you an example of movies that have inspired, and still do inspire me. Cinderella Man, Gladiator, Braveheart, Rocky (yes, the original), Dances with Wolves, In Good Company, Forest Gump, etc..
While movies are designed for entertainment, entertainment can inspire us in all sorts of wonderful ways. Don’t overlook the power of this wonderful media. It contains both writing, music, and visual art—and can be highly impactful for those looking for another way to stay inspired.
13. Cook Something!
Full disclosure on this one (in case my wife reads this): I like to cook-- sometimes. I just have to be “in the mood”. And I’ll admit it’s not often. However, many Saturday mornings I find that the freedom of the day inspires me to make an egg, or to fix breakfast for the family. I enjoy the smells of the food, and the smiles it brings my loved ones when I prepare a simple Saturday breakfast.
I also enjoy prepping food for cooking. There’ a certain harmony in life when you’re not in a rush, and your slicing a fresh onion or tomato for a meal you’re preparing.
So many people in this world were not born in a country with such bounty. I like to think that every time I slow down enough to prepare a meal (or help my wife prepare one), I am also giving thanks to my maker for His abundant blessings.
This method of how to stay inspired is not for the couch potato who can’t put down the remote. If your not an avid sports fan, this method of how to stay inspired is especially for you.
Sports have, even since pre-biblical times, unified people. It’s kind of like movies, in that it is entertainment. However, unlike the actors who though very skilled at their craft are pretending to do great things, athletes are the real deal. They have trained for this.
You don’t win a marathon if you do not get up every day and earn that elite physical conditioning. You can’t compete on the PGA tour if you do not embody hard work and discipline. You cannot win the World Cup if you don’t eat, sleep, and breathe soccer for years and years leading up to that pivotal moment.
It’s not the victories in sports that wow me. There’s a winner every Sunday. But the stories about the grind it took them to get there is what keeps me watching. The best of athletes have come through enormous hardships and trials to get where they are. In other words, they typically have had to earn it. Whether you're an athlete or just a fan-- sport can inspire us all. It has been that way for thousands of years.
Summary: How to Stay Inspired
As I mentioned at the onset of this blog, I have not even come close to where I want to be as far as staying inspired. However, I know it is an area that I need to continually improve. When I find myself grumbling about my job, sad or depressed that something didn’t go as I had planned, I try and pick up the bible, go to the beach, or perhaps just sit down and watch an Avenger movie with my ten-year-old son.
This is how I feed the good dog.
How do you do it?
I hope that this read has benefited you in some way. Feel free to look back to this page from time to time for inspiration. If you know of a friend who struggles in this area, feel free to forward this post to them.
Thanks for reading. God bless. And stay inspired!
About the Author
Jeff Headrick is an independent financial planner and wealth manager with Inspire Financial Planning. When Jeff was still in his teens his father died unexpectedly. While his father was a hard worker and a good provider, he did not have the best financial plan in place when he died.
This left his family at a tough financial crossroad. Jeff’s personal experience, coupled with being inspired by Sir John Templeton, Warren Buffett, Dave Ramsey, and the laws of compound interest, prompted him to enter the financial services industry in 1999. He has been helping people with their financial planning ever since.
Jeff lives in Wilmington, NC with his wife and two children. He spends most of his spare time just across the Intracoastal Waterway in Wrightsville Beach, enjoying the beauty of the NC Coast.
Investment Advisory Services offered through AlphaStar Capital Management, LLC, a SEC Registered Investment Adviser. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of the firm by the Commission nor does it indicate that the adviser has attained a particular level of skill or ability. AlphaStar Capital Management, LLC and Inspire Financial Planning are independent entities.