Finding The Answers to “What Inspires You?”

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A common interview question is “what inspires you?”  Since interviews are usually not the best time to delve into deep personal issues, most people usually respond with dry, uncreative answers like “my parents,” or “being able to learn new things.”  Don’t worry about how you may have answered that in the past, I want you to think about how you would answer that question right now.

We all find inspiration differently.

Some of us need time alone to find it, looking within.  Others have more success looking outwards, observing and interacting.  There is no golden answer to the question “what inspires you.”  And your answer certainly doesn’t have to be singular, I find inspiration in more things than I can count.  No one can tell you how or what you should be inspired by; you have to find out for yourself.  What I can tell you is that when you come across these things, people, and/or places you will know.

Looking back at my life, my answers to the question “what inspires you” have changed dramatically over time, and rather frequently too.  When I was a teenager I so desperately wanted to be a famous actor like so many other people, and I watched movies and plays all the time admiring how everyone in the cast “had done it” and that meant there was hope for me too.

Focus on now.  The past doesn’t matter.

While I still enjoy the theater and watching blockbuster hits, my interest in acting has long passed, and although I still have mad respect for anyone who’s a working actor, that’s not a source of inspiration for me anymore and I’m totally fine with that.  My goals and priorities have changed, and the people that inspire me now are bloggers, world travelers, and entrepreneurs.

People are amazing.  I’m constantly amazed at the accomplishments people achieve every day.  But for me, getting inspired by people alone isn’t enough.  The majority of my inspirations are actually drawn from nature and travel.

Trails are always changing.

I always feel inspired when I’m hiking because I notice something new everywhere I go, even if I’m wandering down the same trail for the hundredth time.  Nature is always active, finding ways to survive and flourish, and I love that.

Wandering down dirt trails with the feel of the ground beneath my feet, my mind clears and my stresses melt away.  Nature humbles me, and reassures me that all the things have been bothering me really don’t matter in the big picture.  Hiking helps me squash my fears and inhibitions and makes me believe that anything is possible.

For those of you who like to hike, here are a few of my favorite trails that have inspired me and I think you’ll enjoy too.

  • Kalalau Trail, Napali Coast, Kauai
  • Panorama Trail, Yosemite Valley
  • Sunset Trail, Fort Funston
  • Solitude Trail, Squaw Valley
  • Summit Loop Trail, San Bruno Mountain State Park
  • Maunawili Falls Trail, Oahu

So Untemplaters, what inspires you?  I have a feeling most of you already know what your answers are.  :)  Will you share a few with us?  Keep reaching for your dreams!

“Personal

Unconventional Guides

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents August 15, 2011 at 10:13 am

I am inspired as a teacher and I get to inspire children too. Win/win! I love what I do.

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Sydney August 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

That is awesome Krantcents! Teachers rock! I still remember many of my teachers, what they taught me, and how they made learning fun. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and all of the support they gave me and my classmates.

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Financial Samurai August 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

Sounds like you’ve found your way to Zen Sydney! Some find it sitting in a cobblers pose in silence next to their bed. You find it on a natural journey. Love it!

The people who inspire me MOST are those who might not have it the best, but who continue never to complain, who smile, and make the best with what they have. I love those people.

Best, Sam

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Sydney August 15, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks Sam. I agree with you. I was so moved by young Mayan school kids when I was in the Yucatan. They didn’t have much but that didn’t stop them from smiling ear to ear and giggling with each other. I found myself smiling back seeing their happiness. We really don’t need riches to be happy!

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MoneyCone August 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

As we grow, our tastes seem to change. What inspired me when I was a kid no longer does now and what inspires me now won’t probably last as well! Oh well!

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Sydney August 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm

:) my tastes have changed a lot too and life is so much more fun that way. I don’t get bored easily but I do tend to go through cycles of activites. A few years ago I got hooked on knitting and was always looking through books and websites for inspiration. After knitting my 10th hat I was ready to move onto something new and more fulfillig. So glad I found blogging and hiking!

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Buck Inspire August 16, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Oh my, are you my twin? I wanted to be an actor, but the bug has long passed, too. I might have to write some entertaining posts about auditions that never turned out. Glad I moved out of that phase. However I still want to inspire and entertain through my writing. I was just inspired by your description of nature and hiking. I was never that into hiking or nature, but now I have a new found respect for it. Terrifc stuff!

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Sydney August 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Haha nice. I have some funny audition stories too. So glad to be passed the days of headshots and praying for callbacks. I love the creativity and entertainment in your posts and am happy to hear you want to keep writing. :) I’m flattered that my nature and hiking descrips gave you some inspiration, thanks!

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Dawn Lennon August 17, 2011 at 6:12 am

Terrific post. Yes, inspiring. Great question too. I think you’ve hit on the big one for me and that’s the power of nature and actually quiet as a source of inspiration. It all works together, though–our observations of the success stories of others, wonderful literature and art, challenges successfully achieved. I often feel sudden bursts of inspiration and try to hold on to them as long as I can. When they fade, I eagerly ( and sometimes impatiently) await the next. Thanks for a great read! ~Dawn

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Sydney August 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Thanks Dawn! Enjoy those inspirational bursts! I had one the other day reading an article in the FT called “Little Girl Found.”

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Paula @ AffordAnything.org August 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hey — I’m a blogger, world traveler, and an entrepreneur, AND I love to hike! Plus my goal through my blog is to be an inspiration to others. I guess I’m doing well!

What inspires me? …. That changes based on my goals. Before I did my big RTW trip, I was inspired by other travelers. These days I’m inspired by lifehackers of all stripes, especially A-List bloggers.

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Sydney August 17, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I love it, love it!! Awesome job Paula, very inspirational!

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femmefrugality August 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Nature has always been my inspiration and solace. Just sitting out in the woods alone with whoever’s creation or accident or whatever this world is really centers me. I loved Grizzly Trail in Yellowstone…it was beautiful and challenging, but also scared the living daylights out of me…thank goodness I didn’t run into any bears!

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Paul @ The Frugal Toad September 9, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Sydney,

I’m totally and utterly inspired by nature and have been my whole life. Watching the sunrise on Mt. Desert Island Maine, whale watching with my daughter off of Cape Cod, snorkling in Negril Jamaica, or having a drink at Nepenthe’s Big Sir are some of my favorites!

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Sydney September 10, 2011 at 9:15 am

Those sound like amazing places Paul! That’s awesome you can relate! I’ve been whale watching in Hawaii and even though I wasn’t quick enough to get a picture, I still remember how breathtaking it was to see them in the wild. I’ve also seen sea turtles, puffins, tons of sea lions, and dolphins in the wild on my travels and hikes along the coast in the Bay Area and it never fails to put the biggest smile on my face!

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RLTW! September 19, 2012 at 2:30 am

I know this is over a year old, but this was an inspirational post. I can totally relate to how your goals and interests change over time, and this article reminded me that it’s okay if they do change. When I was in high school and college, I was inspired by surfing and pro surfers. It’s a sport I genuinely enjoy, and I always dreamed of surfing like the pros, and surfing the places that they surfed.

Well, from college to now (I’m in my mid 20′s), I have accomplished most of what I wanted to in surfing, and am at a point where I can happily part ways with it if I have to (and being stuck in a cubicle farm probably had some damping effect). I am now ready for the next challenge, and now my new goal and aspiration is to become an Army Ranger. What inspires me is the excitement, the adventure, the challenge, and the chance to be able to serve my country.

Btw, I live in Hawaii and have done Maunawili Falls. I love that hike! I especially love being able to jump off the waterfall at the end.

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