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We can’t be inspired all the time. Life just doesn’t seem to work like that. Just as the planet has various seasons, so too do we have cycles of our own. Sometimes they come and go quickly. Yet other times we seem to stay in a particular frame of mind for quite a long time.

I used to try imposing my will on my inspiration. Telling myself that I was going to sit down to do whatever it was that I needed to do at a particular time on a particular day and just sit there until I’d accomplished my mission.

But like the farmers’ wisdom, I’ve learned that there’s a season to plant and a season to harvest. And there’s not really much use (absent extraordinary circumstances) to try and go against the proverbial grain.

If we’re lucky, we learn to strike when the iron is hot. Let’s use this column for example. It’s due at a particular time each and every week. Some weeks I know exactly what I want to talk with y’all about. Sometimes it’s just a vague idea or a single word. Yet other times, like admittedly today, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to say.

Weeks where it’s already lined out in my head for me are easy. I just wait until I’ve got a good little pocket of time, and then sit down to write. If I’ve got a word or concept, I might spend the week discussing it with my personal network. And if it falls in the last category, where I’ve got no clue, well there’s a deadline alarm reminder in my phone that gently urges me when I wake up that morning that the time has come to get on the ball.

In the first two instances, inspiration comes because there’s something on my mind. In that situation, I like to wait for the perfect time. Where I feel refreshed and calm and can really put my whole everything into what I’m doing. Sometimes that’s first thing in the morning. Sometimes it’s right before sleeping. I never quite know when the moment will hit until it’s there. I’ve learned to look for the signs. It’s a magical combination of feeling focused and able to tune out external distractions.

But in the last scenario, the deadline serves as the inspiration. Sometimes no matter how proactive you intend to be, life takes over and you find yourself without the perfect magical moment to make it happen. Interestingly, the pressure of a deadline alone can be sufficient to turn out some of your best work, despite previously feeling inspired.

Of course we’re all different and work at different tempos. A big part of turning out your best work is taking some time to reflect on who and how you are and then making the conscious decision to meet yourself where you are. Find the right tools, the right environment, the right time, and the right amount of resolve. And when the iron is hot, get to work!

As always, I’d love to hear from you and can be reached through my criminal defense firm’s site at www.shanastein.com/contact

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