11 Unconventional Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Work

11 Unconventional Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Work

Sometimes every day at work can feel like a battle you’ve already lost. You nestle down only to find that you’d rather punch yourself in the face than go through the same routine yet another day.

Resistance sinks in like a battery that slowly drains every ounce of energy in your being. Inspiration is nowhere to be found — just the same old self-doubt and stuckness. You feel like one of those wind-up, key-turn dolls. Programmed to move toward inevitable defeat.

Another blog post, email, phone call. Repetitive, tedious, uninspiring. Your work has gotten stale, and you desperately need something to shake things up. You long for the days when you first started, when you were excited, optimistic and hopeful.

Getting nostalgic won’t help you, though, and what got you here won’t get you there.

Every day we’re given 24 brand new hours to live and do our work. You get to decide how you’ll use your time.

Here are 11 ways you can break the cycle of resistance and monotony, and reclaim your passion.

1. Pretend that nothing matters.

Release your desire to be perfect, to be great, to even have your project turn out the way you think it should.

Relax what you think your work should be to make room for the beauty of what is. (Share this)

2. Get off the screen.

Try using your hands. Sketch, collage, paint, dance it out.

Get off the screen and into the world, then bring it back into your digital masterpiece. (Share this)

3. Give as if you’ll die tomorrow.

Your last breath might be in fifty years or 50 seconds. You never know. Why not give completely before you die?

4. Act as if you know nothing about what you’re doing.

Pretend that you’re a complete beginner, exploring every facet of your project for the first time. Dare to believe that you might be able to learn something new, that you don’t have everything figured out.

5. Ditch your list.

Terrifying, I know. We all to some degree or another identify with our achievements and checking things off a list.

Find out what happens for a day when you set intentions and go with the flow, but don’t make any lists.

6. Play with embodying qualities.

What do you most want or need to embody today to make your work as awesome as it can be? Courage? Grace? Discipline?

Whatever you most need, play as if that quality is your unique superpower. It’s something so ingrained in you that you couldn’t stop doing it even if you tried. Now, get to work.

7. Move your body.

Yes, seriously. Energy gets stuck in our bodies and our creativity gets stifled when we become rigid and stuck in the same postures.

Need more ease in your work? Try yoga or dance. Want more boom? Do a bodyweight or crossfit style circuit.

Get your energy flowing, but don’t shake it off. Channel it into your work. (Share this)

8. Stop being so damn serious.

The truth is, your work doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think it does. Sure, it might be important. People are potentially counting on you. There may be repercussions if you don’t get it done on time.

But for the love of God, let’s stop acting like if we don’t get it done, our entire self-image and world is going to fall apart.

Everything we build will eventually fall apart someday. Let’s stop acting as if everything is permanent.

Let go. Relax. Create your art.

9. Get turned on.

Creativity is sex. It’s the joining and merging of ideas and inspiration into form.

Can you really expect to create anything inspired if you’re not the slightest bit aroused? So… what turns you on about your work?

  • What really gets you off?
  • What lights you up?
  • What stimulates you?

Go back to that. Sometimes it’s as easy as remembering why the hell we’re doing things in the first place.

10. Do it with more love.

What’s the most loving way you can possibly work, right now?

  • How can every email you write be a love note?
  • How can every problem you solve be an offering of your deepest gifts?
  • How can you do your work so the world becomes a more beautiful place?

Work becomes a chore when we’re too in our head, worrying, agonizing, and stressing about potential outcomes. Drop back into your heart, your body, your Why.

11. What’s the simplest, smartest, easiest way to get it done?

Let’s just be real. Sometimes your tank is empty. Sometimes you just ain’t got nothing left to give, but you still need to get it done.

In that case, find the most intelligent way of getting it done with the least amount of effort.

“Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.” —Robert Heinlein

What do you do when you’re feeling the funk?

What gets you moving and creating from a place of renewed energy and inspiration?

Share in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

SJ Scott September 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

Jonathon,

I think my head would implode if I tried #5 AND work. I certainly get your point that we need to disconnect now and again to really perform, though!

-SJ

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Dustin September 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

I find that making room for something that I can do purely for creative reasons ends up spilling inspiration into the rest of my work.

For example, for the past few weeks I’ve been spending my first hours in the morning designing in Illustrator. Anything I want. Not for clients.

It makes me feel like a kid again, playing with paints. Plus, I’ve been putting the items for sale online and making a little extra cash! Double bonus!

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jennifer blanchard September 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

Great tips! And I love how so much of this relates to the book I’m working on right now (divine timing!). Movement is such an important part of being creative and having energy to do the things you dream of doing.

Another tip to help breathe life back into your work (and life) is to do a daily mind-clearing exercise, like Morning Pages or meditating. Clearing the “crap” that’s going on inside you (negative thoughts, negative voices, etc) will give you more clarity (and direct access to your creative well) because you’ll no longer have to sift through “junk” to get to the good stuff when you’re working.

Thanks Jonathan!

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Jeremy September 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

My favorite, which keeps coming back in spades:

When lost, help someone else.

Any way you can. Someone in one of your Facebook groups is asking for help. Someone on a forum needs assistance with something. Don’t wait for it to be an “influencer”–just do it for no reason whatsoever, for whoever crosses your path. Take 30 minutes or more, don’t think about how much more productive you’d be working on your project (you wouldn’t be), and do it.

Take care,
J

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Kate September 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

Mmmmmmm. Beautiful list. Move your body and get turned on! Love and make it easy. Thank you! I needed to see this today. When I’m in a funk I give myself permission to be there. Usually what gets me out of it is movement, doing something I enjoy… sometimes it’s sleeping and saving work for tomorrow. And it’s always good to remember it won’t last forever :)

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nolakes September 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Great post! #5 & 8cause strss and are killers. I do use my hands in my many hobbies and that energises me.

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nolakes September 19, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Great post! #5 & 8 cause sterss and are killers. Movement is always great to refresh and energise – get blood circulating to refresh the mind. Use of hands works wonders for me! Keep up the good work, we do need such reminders and constant reminders in our ever spinning wheels that actually we can get off!

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Woman on Wild Mountain September 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm

#7 is the one thing that really gets me going more than anything else; with out it the other things don’t work. I must move! I run, hike, wander the forests and canyons, gather wild things and go home to the studio. I like the “ditch the list” idea and will try this a bit more often for spontaneous days when I can. T

Thank You!!

Kerry

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Christopher September 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Love this list, and I believe there are many people who should be considering No. 8. I’m focused on No. 4 at the moment.

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nadine September 20, 2013 at 1:38 am

What a lovable collection – I just had the greatest laugh, thank you very much.
It’s utterly important to not take life and our problems too serious. Life is supposed to be fun. If we don’t enjoy whatever we’re doing and especially what we chose to do, wouldn’t we ignore the gifts that life gave us?
When I’m in a drought I’m usually exhausted – lack of sleep, overworking, unhealthy diet. So I take the time to get some rest, eat something healthy and pamper myself (not always as easy as it may sound :)). That’s normally when I start dreaming again and see the bigger picture. Some inspirational text – like this one – also helps to ignite the spark again.
Release your inner kid, play, have fun and be creative. Caring for the message and not for the money when doing something is one very important thing. Money implies necessity and strips away the fun. With money in mind often times we lose focus on our message and start dreading our work, it’s a chore and not a gift. Believing that money will come if we pour our heart and passion in our work relieves from this pressure.
We all need to listen to ourselves, body and soul, and act accordingly. It’s our life, our body and soul, our responsibility and fun and our chosen path.
Thanks again for this inspiring post!

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Gayle September 20, 2013 at 3:22 am

#7 and 8..very cool and will give those a try :)

I try and literally get away from my work, my job when I hit a funk. I go do something completly different, even if it’s simply watering my chilli plant and sitting in the sun with my cat for 10 mins. It seems to center me and sort of calm me down or renew my energy levels so I can get bak to the grind and finally get something done.

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Diana W September 20, 2013 at 7:42 am

It’s good to know I’m not the only way who has days I just don’t want to do the work, even though I quit a job to do this work because I love it. {smile}

For me the best thing I can do is get re-nourished by connecting with my Creator, and not be too serious about the work. When I follow His lead things work best. And yes…I need to keep ever-present in my mind why I’m doing this work to begin with; which is not to have another job I don’t like. That always helps me regain perspective.

Thanks for the timely reminders.

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Jason September 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm

I read, look at yoshitaka amano art books, and blankly stare into space. I keep a notebook just in case a good idea comes along.

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Faith Presley October 9, 2013 at 8:08 am

It’s amazing how many people lack these important sparks to move forward. Thank you for lining this out for us. Great post!

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Naomi@start-ups January 14, 2014 at 3:30 am

Hi Johnathan,

#8 Stop Being so Dam Serious is one i’m going to practice. When your work is mainly based on your creativity it can become a task thinking of new ideas.

My advise is to expose yourself to whatever makes you happy and keep your notepad close.

My creativity is like a very shy creature that only comes out to play when i’m happy, enjoying life and going with the flow. When I have the pressure on meeting targets and forcing out a creative piece – it’s never any place to be found.

Live life and keep your notepad close!

Naomi

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Leo Gura - Actualized.org January 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I especially like #5, Ditching The List. I’ve been doing that one a lot lately. Lists and great, but they can also be restricting.

This is a fascinating topics because the trick with becoming great at what you do is doing it consistently for many, many hours, BUT… then there are those of us that don’t like to feel caged in. I can’t stand doing this same things too much. I think this is an extra-big problem for big-picture thinkers versus detailed-oriented people. That’s why, for example, you should partner or hire a detail-oriented person to do your detail work for you if you’re a big picture thinker.

The other techniques that I would add to the list:
1) Meditation every day for 20 minutes — totally let go of the outcome. If you aren’t enjoying your work, even the “tedious” stuff,it’s cause you’re too outcome-dependent and lost the mastery mindset.
2) Visualization exercises every day to reconnect you with your larger vision
3) Join a Mastermind group or have someone to bounce ideas off of
4) Do at least 1 exciting new thing every week — like take a road-trip, or eat at some new restaurant
5) Work on a non-essential work-related project. Do something creative that’s not directly connected to advancing your goals or business. For example, draw in your sketchbook or journal or philosophize.
6) AND lastly, but most importantly, make sure what you’re doing is ACTUALLY the most meaningful thing you could be doing. Resistance can be a sign that you’re not fully aligned with your purpose. Your subconscious mind will screw with you like that, jabbing you in the ribs, telling you that you could be doing greater things.

I like your posts Jonathan,
Leo

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Jeremy February 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Great article! I am glad I found your site, as I enjoyed the read. I am looking forward to reading more of your work.

I enjoyed your point, “stop being so damn serious.” This is a trap that I fall into from time to time, and while I have gotten better, there are still times when I allow a task or a project to be bigger than it actually is, because in the end, when my life is at its end, it really won’t matter that much. The stress of being overly serious is not worth happiness. Period.

It is a goal of mine every day to have fun at work and to create an environment of fun for everyone else. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t getting things done, it just means we are celebrating the process and see it as a reason to be happy and not fearful.

Something that works for me is to have a brief conversation with a co-worker about something completely unrelated about work for a few minutes, about something they are passionate about. That gets me going, hearing about what inspires other people.

Again, thanks for the read!

Sincerely,

Jeremy

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