We've all done it. We've spent hours endlessly scrolling through stunning pictures plastered with inspiring quotes and saving every remotely interesting Facebook article. It's a fun way to indulge our creative minds, but for the sake of productivity and sanity, sometimes a line must be drawn. That's right, it's time to let go of the mouse and step away from that overcrowded D.I.Y. board on Pinterest.
Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban once said “it’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.” Even though we love our social media, the big problem with sites like Pinterest or Facebook is they provide too much “dream life” content. We fall in love with the lives of fashion mavens, world travelers, culinary whiz-kids and interior decorators, often at the expense of our own progress. Instead of working daily to strategically build our own dream life, we've made a part-time (sometimes even full-time) job of being the authority on all things Instagram-worthy. While inspiration can motivate and push us to complete our tasks, it can also sometimes reduce us from being inspirational to being an over-consumer.
The key to solving this problem is to cultivate a good level of disconnect. Wikipedia searches about your career icon or mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr accounts are only good in small amounts. The desire to look at “just a few more” is damaging to your own efficiency in completing tasks. Without a limit on inspiration binges, there's a good chance you'll find yourself pinning more pictures of delicious-looking scones than actually rolling out the dough to make them.
In order to set healthy boundaries, remind yourself that the person you're looking to for inspiration probably isn't spending hours trawling the Internet for cat memes. Look critically at some of your favorite “dream life” images and think about how you can make those moments tangible for yourself.
It's also vital to remember these online portrayals of life often seem too good to be true...because they probably are. Don't get discouraged if you try and fail the first (or eighth) time. Behind many inspirational quotes are years of fear, failure, self-doubt and hard work. You have to keep moving with your dream if you want to grow and progress.
When you find inspiration, set the article or picture aside to review later, and make this a habit in your life. Pick at least one day a month to set aside as your creative time. If you have a friend with similar interests, work with them to help to keep you accountable and on track. An additional advantage of having friends with the same goals means you will also have brainstorming sessions where you’re both scrabbling for a pen and paper to note down your genius ideas.
Once you’re no longer mindlessly consuming “dream life” pictures all day, take a look at your own work. It still might fall short of the carefully edited perfection of so many Instagram accounts, but it’s real and it’s yours and it’s now. Create, and maybe you'll be the one inspiring others.