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What is Imagination Versus Inspiration?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

“Logic will get you from A to Z. Imagination will take you everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Imagination is the action or ability to form new ideas, images or concepts that do not externally exist to the senses, are not yet ‘real’. The ability to create something that is not yet ‘real’ in the sensory world. This is often referred to as “outside of the box” thinking.

"If you want to build a ship, do not call together men to make plans, delegate tasks, gather tools and fell trees, instead, instill in them a longing for the great and endless sea." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

From the Latin, inspirare which is means to breathe in, inspiration fuels desire, longing, and motivation. Inspired people are more likely to achieve their goals. It boosts wellbeing, life satisfaction and leads to feelings of purpose and meaning.

From my experience imagination is cultivated and fed by exercising it. Inspiration on the other hand is often a whispered gift which I need to act on promptly to receive more of it.

What gets in our way?

There are some mighty opponents to becoming creatively masterful but if we can name the beasts we have a chance to tame them. Below is a list of the most “popular” little devils that we can confront swiftly to clear our way.

1. Fear of Failure or Fear of Success. Ok, it didn’t work out once, maybe even twice. So, you should stop all attempts to do something again, right? Or what if it does work out? Maybe that will cause envy, you don’t deserve success or you’ll build something amazing and then you are sure to lose it.

2. Over-Analysis. Critical thinking, proper use of judgement and discernment are great but overuse can beget very negative states. And guess what? We are very education, conditioned and talented in overusing our critical minds. Watch this one.

3. Anxiety and Worry. When we hold back our energy or don’t take necessary or needed action, we can slip into a space of frustration and anxiousness.

4. Perfection. Wanting or waiting until something to be ‘perfect’ is a noble aspiration but taken too far the drive for perfectionism not only delivers diminishing returns but it also wears on the creative psyche and makes it less likely to flow.

Tiny Tips for Inspiration and Imagination:

1. Help someone. Being of service to someone else can help get you out of your head , help you remember what you can offer someone else and can make you feel good by shifting your perspective from yourself to another. Check-in on a friend, help someone with a problem, do a small kindness, have a mentoring conversation….or the simplest of things.

2. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings and notifications of social media and email.

3. Change of Scenery. Get outside, take a walk, talk to a friend. Do a puzzle, go for a drive. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty. Anything to get you out of your head for a while.

4. Have an Imperfect Day Try to do things “good enough”. Or leave a little mess in the kitchen, wear a shirt inside out or not do your hair. Get some crafts out with sticky glue. Notice that what happens, your thoughts and fixations. Write a really rough draft of something and don’t edit it. Creativity is not neat and tidy, at least not to start with.

Remember, inspiration can come and go. Feeling inspired in your day-to-day life can play a key role in unlocking creativity, increasing productivity, and boosting happiness. People who regularly feel inspired at home and at work tend to be more engaged, more confident, and more motivated to solve problems and create new things. Inspired people inspire others too.

April 28-30, 2023 we are offering a women’s leadership retreat, Empowerment Amidst Chaos, at a beautiful Spanish Villa retreat center near Placerville, CA. More details to come shortly! Space is limited. If you’d an invitation ping us at

Kathleen Joy, Founder & CEO of LumiereWork™

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