How to Reignite Your Creativity When You Feel Unmotivated

Pausing to connect with the purpose behind what we do can help us rediscover meaning and inspiration.

GaudiLab/ Shutterstock
GaudiLab/ Shutterstock

Pausing to connect with the purpose behind what we do — whether at home, with our work, or in our relationships — can help us unlock our creativity and feel more satisfied with life. But when we feel uninspired, discovering that sense of meaning can feel challenging. In Thrive’s first book, Your Time to Thrive, we talk about the research behind discovering our purpose, and provide actionable tips for finding creativity and inspiration in what we do. And so often, it helps to hear what works for others.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the tips that help them reignite their creativity when they feel unmotivated. Which of these will you try?

Sit by the ocean

“My go-to fix when I’m feeling uninspired is nature. I typically visit the Theosophical Society Gardens, or go to Marina beach to listen to the waves. I take my notebook with me, sit by the water, and jot down notes. But mainly, I simply daydream in solitude. Doing nothing can be so inspiring.”

—Anitha Balaraj, executive coach, Chennai, India

Read a quote that resonates 

“To reignite my creativity, I like looking through a book of quotes, whether it’s an official tome or my own quote journal. Reading a quote that resonates with me is a great way for me to re-energize. It always helps motivate me and change my perspective when I’m feeling uninspired.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France 

Break into a solo dance party

“After surveying more than a few creative people, I have compiled a list of strategies and practices that we can use to tap into our creativity. One of them is through exercise or dance, either solo or socially! The movement of our bodies can increase in circulation that unblocks our chi enough for creative juices to flow.”

—Marci Brockmann, educator, author, artist and podcaster, Kings Park, N.Y.

Tap into the art or poetry you love

“To reignite my creativity, I read Mary Oliver poetry and also look at my collection of Hilma af Kkint art books. And whenever possible, I pop into an art exhibit. Oftentimes, I find that just being surrounded by art inspires me and helps to spark creativity.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and wellness expert, Royal Oak, MI

Think of one person you can impact

“When I’m feeling unmotivated, I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and then imagine a person my work might affect. Sometimes it’s a famous person or a person with power. Sometimes it’s a colleague, friend or neighbor. I then reshape whatever I’m working on with them in mind. Making that simple connection always jumpstarts my motivation again.”

—Diane Gillespie, emerita professor, Seattle, WA

Visualize your end goal

“During my unmotivated moments, I remind myself that every successful entrepreneur was once an amateur and took action when they were feeling bored or unmotivated. The feeling is temporary, and we have to learn to work around it. I imagine how amazing it would feel when I finish the task I don’t want to do right now. And once I get started on a project, I realize I’m no longer unmotivated. And before I know it, I’m done with it!”

—Amira Irfan, lawyer and blogger, Boca Raton, FL

Embrace a moment of boredom

“Usually when I’m looking to be inspired and creative, it tends to mean I’m forcing something that isn’t coming naturally. During those lulls, I try to take a step back, let go of the urgency, and allow myself those moments of boredom. A lot of research also tells us that boredom is necessary to cultivate creativity. Instead, I fill these moments doing something out of my regular routine. I will pick up a book that I have been neglecting or go for a walk in a different neighbourhood or trail. I also try to center and remind myself that feelings of inspiration and creativity do not have to flow every day.”

—Zehra Kamani, MA psychology and freelance writer, Toronto, ON, Canada

Go for a run

“Going for a run always helps me find inspiration when I’m feeling stuck. I think it helps me process my thoughts in a more fluid way. And oftentimes, the shower I take after I get home is where I have really amazing insights. But even if I don’t gain such clarity, the change of scene and subsequent energy boost can often help me tackle a piece of work that I was struggling with. It also helps calm anxiety or stress about a particular topic and enables me to approach it with more openness.”

—Jacqueline Kerr, San Diego, CA 

Learn something new

“When I am stuck, unmotivated, or have writer’s block, I think of it as my intuition inviting me to try or learn something new. In order to elevate my energy and get a better grip on inspiration, I sign up for a webinar or course, open a new book, take a master class, or phone a friend. Often, even networking with a small group of like-minded people can open a door that feels shut. When I challenge myself to engage in stimulating conversations or to mini-master a new concept, I invite myself to show up in the moment. Learning something previously unknown or indulging in inspiring conversations with peers is enough of a jolt to infuse a fresh perspective.” 

—Randi Levin, transitional life strategist, N.Y./N.J. 

Take a walk near the water

“Water in all its forms reignites my creativity and sets it flowing. When I’m stuck, I find it so therapeutic to take a bath or a shower, enjoy a walk in the rain, or even a stroll by the river or sea. It refreshes my imagination. There is something about the sheer washing, waving and rippling of the water that recharges my inspiration and my creative juices.” 

—Liz Clifton, life and leadership coach, Wales, U.K.

Change up your scenery

“When it comes to creativity, I find that your environment is everything. If you have nothing around you to inspire you or spark curiosity, not much is going to happen. Try to change up the scenery! Go for a walk through a local flower market, visit a park, go feed the ducks, or take a drive somewhere for the day and explore a new venue. This almost always works for me when I’m bored. Sometimes, simply feeling the sun on your face and enjoying the fresh air can make a difference.”

—E. Hamilton, author, Seattle, WA

Take time to recharge

“When I’m going through a slump, I find motivation by closing down my computer for a few hours or even a few days, and doing something fun with my kids. Usually, all it takes is a long nature walk, but I have been known to take them on a long hike, a half-day kayaking trip, or in cold months, a ski day. After a break like that, I always come back refreshed, recharged, and overflowing with ideas and enthusiasm for my work.” 

—Celeste Orr, writer and author, ME

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