Why Too Much “Inspiration” Can Stand In the Way of What You Want


Image from http://instagram.com/yellowconference

I had a social media coaching session with a client this week. She is an artist and like so many creative people, she finds social media to be very overwhelming. Before the session she sent me her goals and I collected some information to help her work through some things. We planned on going over the basics of blogging, Pinterest, and Instagram. The session ended up going in a totally different direction. One that I am so grateful for and want to share because I think we all deal with this at some point in our lives: too much inspiration and too much comparison!

My client showed up at our consult with a list of people she wants to be like. It was the equivalent of going to a hairdresser with a picture of Jennifer Lawrence from Vogue and saying, “Make me look like this!”

(I am totally guilty of this by the way).

Seriously, who wouldn’t want their hair to look like that?

Seriously, who wouldn’t want their hair to look like that?

Looking to others for inspiration is great. We need to start somewhere. We also need to realize that our hair is not as thick as Jennifer Lawrence’s and our face shape is different. Cutting your hair like her’s may make you cry with regret.

Comparison on social media is hard to avoid. I spend my days on social media and I find myself struggling with it as well. There is always someone better than you, you wish you could be, and who appears to have their act together. They appear to be winning at life, and you want to be winning at life too!

A little side story: I am kind of a digital hoarder. I scour the Internet, take screen shots of awesomeness, and put them in a folder to refer to when I need inspiration. This file has gotten ridiculous. I have so much “inspiration” I can’t possibly find my own path in it all. I created this dreaded file because I want to be good at my craft. I want to have the knowledge base that will help me stand out and get hired among the sea of social media managers out there. I want my Instagram to be awesome. I want to know what other people are doing so I can do it better. Sometimes it sounds like Veruca Salt is in my head screaming.

Well, we can’t all have seventy five thousand followers. Certainly, we can’t all have it now. Here are a few dangers of too much “ inspiration” that you may or may not have thought about. If you haven’t, I hope it helps you move towards the doing instead of the dreaming and comparing.

1. You will end up inadvertently copying someone else.

If you spend a lot of time looking at what a competitor or a personal idol is doing their words and ideas will get trapped in your head. It will start seeping out into your content and that’s not fun for either party. You may have to answer to it, they may see it and ignore it, or you may be totally off their radar. Whether someone knows or not, you will be putting content out in the world that is a muddled down version of someone else’s idea. Keep your eyes on your own paper. This will clear up enough space to freely create new and great content.

2. You will lose control of your own story.

You are the author of your story. By letting someone else’s content guide you, you are handing over the reigns and letting them lead you into the dark forest. This scenario is awesome for them! You will be ten steps behind them, following blindly, and end up stuck. They will have more room to spread their arms out and twirl around collecting the clients you want. They will end up in inspiration folders everywhere, while you are stuck in the forest dreaming.

3. You might end up emulating someone not worth emulating.

The majority of people on social media are great people. They are simply living their lives out honestly, being awesome, and doing their thing. On the flip side there are people who are master curators and full of s-h-i-t. They curate, imagine, and tell stories. That’s O.K. Those people are usually fun to follow and there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. It’s just important to remember that they aren’t someone you want to be giving creative space to. They may not have the clients they want, they may owe a photographer their first born because they don’t take their own photos, and they may be unhappy. You can’t waste your time wishing your Pinterest were as awesome as _______ [insert whoever you wish your Pinterest were as awesome as], because that person’s space may not be the space you want to be in. You have your own space to build. A space that will house your content and tell a rad story people want to follow. Just remember, you and everyone else on this planet has something unique and worth listening to.

4. It will hinder you from acting.

Like anything we try to accomplish in life there is a moment when you have to act. What good is being inspired if you are never going to act? You can collect all you want, scour all you want, and wish until it’s too late. It’s so easy to get caught up in someone else’s blog, tweets, and pictures. You can be inspired by amazing people. They are inspiring. Just be gentle with yourself and don’t compare yourself to them. Spending too much time doing this can make you feel inadequate, and hinder your own creativity. Dreaming is not going to build your confidence and get you what you want. Acting is what’s going to help you carve out your own space of awesomeness. You have to take all of those Instagram screen shots, article clippings, could be thoughts, and move them out of your own way. You have your own content to make and your own work to do. However imperfect it may seem at first, step by step you will become an expert in your field. Before you know it, someone will be hoarding your content and putting it in their inspiration folder. Talk about winning!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Does social media make it harder for you to avoid comparison? What are your struggles with comparison? How do you deal with it?