If you search #inspo on Instagram, I guarantee you will get over a million posts. Search for #aspo, and you’ll probably get less than a hundred. An inspiration is something or someone that spurs you on to take action in some way. An aspiration is the hope or desire to achieve something.
Especially on social media, when we see fitness models, celebrities or even our friends looking good or doing glamorous things, our thoughts often drift to “I wish that was me”, “I want to look like that”, or “I want to feel that happy”. We click follow and comment #goals. They are now our inspiration. Here’s the rub. That’s aspiration. It’s a wish, a dream, a hope. It’s not inspiring any concrete action and 99 times out of a 100 it’s probably something unrealistic. For something to be inspirational, it has to lead to action. This rarely comes from the imagery on social media. All we get there are sources of comparison and self-doubt.
See if you can stop for a moment and think about the last time you were actually inspired. When was the last time you had an experience that actually resulted in your behaviour changing? I guarantee it’s probably closer to home than you think! Did a friend convince you to try a new workout? Did you get a recipe from your mum to try and cook for a dinner party? What pushed you to actually do something?
From my experience, inspiration is created by a few tangible elements:
Empathy: That feeling of a shared emotion or understanding.
Trust: The person or thing has a history of supporting you or never letting you down.
Belief: The thing you decide to change is just close enough to your grasp that you know you can do it.
Knowledge: Not only do you understand what you aspire to achieve but also know how to follow each step along the way. It’s a matter of one foot in front of the other.
It’s pretty rare that a social media post will contain all of these elements, especially if it’s from someone you’ve never met before. Every person I know who has made a committed change to their lifestyle has been inspired by a friend or family member. They were inspired by someone who not only has a story themselves, but also understands their story. If you want to be inspired, I challenge you to put down your phone and look within your closest relationship circles. Find the people that understand your aspirations. Find the people that can give you the empathy, trust and knowledge that you need to follow through on your own beliefs.