30 Days of Inspiration Recap

August 24th, 2010 by Steve Pavlina

My 30 days of inspiration trial ended on Sunday, so I’ll do my best to sum up the overall experience, trying not to repeat what I’ve already shared along the way.

Acting on Inspiration

Acting on inspiration in the moment, as opposed to planning things out in advance, was a very different way of living for me. In some ways I liked it, and in other ways I didn’t.

I enjoyed the feeling of flow from one action to the next. Instead of hesitating or thinking things through, I just dove right in and took action on whatever felt inspired in the moment. That kept me from getting stuck in my head, so there was very little friction in moving from idea to implementation.

Synchronicities increased massively, usually with several occurring each day. I sure noticed a lot of rabbits during this trial. :)

When I finished one activity, quite often something else would come up the very minute I finished it. For example, as I was saying goodbye to someone on the phone, Erin walked in the door. Then right as she left, the phone rang again. This sort of timing happened many times during this trial.

What I didn’t like was that the flow of inspiration seemed fairly chaotic at times. Sometimes I felt like I was moving forward with purpose, but other times the experience seemed practically random. In retrospect some of those inspired ideas didn’t seem to be worth pursuing. I think it would have helped to engage the left brain a bit and filter some of them out.

I spent a lot of time on communication during this trial — more phone calls, emails, and visits with people. Initially this produced some positive shifts in my relationships. But after a couple weeks of this, I began feeling socially overwhelmed. My inboxes were overflowing with messages from people expecting a personal response from me. It was way too much to keep up with. So by the final week of the trial, I had to pull back socially and stop being so open with my energy. It simply wasn’t practical to maintain it. I really don’t want to be spending 8+ hours a day on communication like I did on some days of this trial.

As for my work, that also seemed like a mixed bag. On the positive side, I blogged a lot during this trial, and that led to a major increase in feedback as well as a surge in forum discussions (about double the usual). Since my income is largely passive in nature, that part of my income wasn’t negatively affected by this trial.

On the other hand, I didn’t do any serious project-based work during this trial, and I skipped certain business tasks I normally would have done, such as sending out a newsletter. So that probably depressed my income a little. Based on what I experienced during this trial, I think that if I ran my business based on pure inspiration in the long run, it would produce some benefits, but I suspect it would hurt me in others ways. The nature of my business allows me to do this sort of thing, but for people with different business models, I think this trial could do more harm than good.

Sometimes I really liked the inspired tasks I was doing. But overall I didn’t like the feeling that things were slipping out of control. If technology didn’t do most of the work of keeping my business running for me, I think this trial could have left me with a mess to clean up.

Acting on inspiration can create a lot of loose ends. If I lived this way for several months in a row, I suspect I’d end up with a disorganized mess of way too many open loops. At some point it’s important to sit down and close those loops, and I didn’t find that inspiration alone was sufficient to get the job done.

For example, during this trial I created a major open loop of deciding that I wanted to move beyond copyrights for my online articles. The feedback I received was voluminous, including a chaotic sampling of offers to create versions of my site in other languages. It goes to show what a complex undertaking this could be, especially when it comes to dealing with translations intelligently. Inspiration may have opened the door to moving forward, but it doesn’t seem adequate to solve all the little problems and challenges that need to be worked out. Making this idea practical seems like more of a left-brained task. Review the various options, consider the expected consequences, and make the best decision I can.

I think inspiration works best for opening new doors and moving forward on fresh ideas. After that, I’d put my money on persistence and self-discipline to cross the finish line. Inspiration is a powerful resource, but it can’t substitute for perspiration.

Subjective Reality

The subjective reality aspect of this trial involved seeing life from a dream world perspective. I found this to be a very powerful shift.

For the first few weeks, it was challenging to maintain this perspective. I had to keep reminding myself multiple times each day, “I’m dreaming,” “This is a dream,” etc. But by the final week, I somehow shifted from conscious competence to unconscious competence, meaning that my subconscious accepted this as my default way of seeing the world, so I no longer had to consciously think about it.

This was one of the key benefits of doing a 30-day trial. I was able to hold this perspective long enough and consistently enough that my subconscious took over for me. Now it just feels like a natural part of my belief system, something I take for granted.┬áThis trial was a big emotional roller coaster, and I’m happy that I can maintain this point of view now without so much conscious effort.

With some experimentation I refined my perspective on other dream characters. Initially I used the perspective that everyone I interacted with was a part of me, like a projection of some part of the dreamer’s subconscious. This yielded some powerful breakthroughs, but I feel like it wasted a lot of time as well. Interacting with everyone at this level is tremendously time-consuming. You have to listen for the message behind every interaction. While some of those messages were truly insightful, others seemed largely worthless to me.

While I agree with the perspective that we’re all connected, I no longer hold the perspective that every dream character I encounter represents an important part of me that I need to understand in great depth. That point of view just didn’t pan out in terms of results.

Now my perspective is that the dream world is filled with lots of richness and variety, and whatever I pay attention to will expand. If I want to delve into a dream character’s apparent issues with scarcity thinking, for instance, the consequence is that I’ll be expanding that aspect of my reality. I’ll be programming the dream for more scarcity.

This has changed the way I perceive responsibility. At first I felt like it was my responsibility to understand and then fix every problem I perceived. However, that approach actually backfired. The more I focused on understanding and helping people in need, the more neediness the dream world manifested. Eventually my inboxes were overflowing with needy messages. That left me feeling very drained and demotivated, and I began craving more alone time just so I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone’s problems. Within a couple weeks, I realized that this approach was totally unsustainable. But I also had to accept that I was inadvertently creating that reality.

I realized how important it is to focus my attention on those aspects of the dream world I wish to expand. So I’ve begun to withdraw my attention from problems and neediness. Now I’m once again focusing on my goals and intentions. And lo and behold, the good stuff is already beginning to expand, and my perception of neediness is quickly receding.

This trial really drove home the idea that we experience what we think about. Thoughts and feelings manifest.

One of the worst things we can do, therefore, is to complain. Complaining directs the dream world to give us more to complain about.

Belief

I’d say that the most important lesson I learned from this trial was to pay attention to my beliefs.

When I first started living subjectively for an extended length of time, it felt like I was floating through space. Lots of strange things occurred that convinced me this really is a dream world.

What actually helped me re-ground myself was realizing that my own beliefs were constraining my experience. So while it may seem like anything is possible in a dream world, my beliefs determine how probable certain events are.

This is where we can connect the dots between the subjective and objective frames.

In the objective frame, we’d say that physical reality is primary and that consciousness arises within it. A subjective experience is a bunch of neurons firing in your brain.

In the subjective frame, we’d say that consciousness is primary and the dream world of physical reality arises within it. An objective experience is a result of your beliefs and expectations constraining the dream’s potential.

Subjectively speaking, an objective experience isn’t really objective at all. It just seems that way because your beliefs are narrowing the field of probabilities. Reality only seems objective because you believe and expect it to.

Much of personal development has to do with massaging your beliefs to shift the field of probabilities.

For example, if you go to university and get a degree, that may shift your beliefs about what kind of job you can get or how much money you can earn. If you don’t think you can get a certain type of job, you probably won’t even apply for it. And if you do apply, you’ll sabotage yourself at one point or another since you won’t believe that you’re qualified.

If you read 10 books in a particular field, that may shift your beliefs about your odds of success in that field. You believe that education makes a difference.

But could you have gotten results that were just as good or better without the education, if you simply believed you could succeed?

Since beliefs have a tendency to remain stable, the dream world has an element of consistency to it, making it seem largely objective. However, if you shift your beliefs, your dream world will shift as well.

In the final week of this trial, I began thinking a lot about my beliefs and how they may be filtering and controlling my experience of the dream world. I figured that if I understood my beliefs better, I should be able to improve some aspects of the dream simply by working within those constraints. As I mentioned in a previous post, I can also work on reprogramming or removing beliefs, but for now I want to try working within the structure that’s already there.

I decided to start with diet and exercise, which were lagging behind for most of this trial. I began eating foods that I believed would give me good energy. Last week I started exercising again too.

I asked myself, “What kind of exercise do I believe will give me the greatest benefits in terms of my health and energy?” I’ve tried many forms of exercise over the past two decades, but the answer that came up for me was doing some serious cardio.

My beliefs are filled with “education” about the benefits of cardio exercise, and I also have plenty of memories to that effect.

So I dove in and started doing 60 minutes on the elliptical machine at the gym each morning. I hadn’t exercised in several weeks, so I felt I’d be out of shape, but then I reminded myself that it’s just a dream. How hard could it be if my cardiovascular system isn’t even real? That mindset made the exercise seem easier than ever. I did this workout 5 out of the past 7 days (I took off Sat and Sun), and I’m feeling great.

I could be doing something much fancier, but I don’t actually believe those other workouts to be any more effective than an hour of cardio at 80-90% of max heart rate, at least in terms of its ability to keep me feeling alert and energetic.

Now I’m turning my attention to my business using this attitude as well. Instead of thinking about options and opportunities, I’m pondering my beliefs. What do I believe to be my best options and opportunities? That may seem like a subtle distinction, but it gets me thinking in new directions.

Final Thoughts

Overall I’m glad I did this trial. It was one of the most intense 30-day trials I’ve ever done, but it’s given me a new sense of possibility.

Acting on every inspiration of the moment with no advance thinking or planning didn’t work out so well, but the subjective reality aspect of this trial was wonderful.

I can explain the shortcomings on the inspiration side simply by noting my beliefs. I didn’t actually believe that acting on inspiration alone was an optimal approach, and so my dream world manifested mixed results.

This trial ended differently than it began. During the first couple weeks, the rapid pace of change was stressful, and it was challenging to hold the subjective perspective for so long. But by the end of the trial, the pacing had become more reasonable. I felt I’d finally integrated the subjective perspective at a subconscious level, so I didn’t have to think about it much. I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, realizing that I could enjoy the best of both worlds by combining inspiration and planning together, in accordance with my beliefs.

Before this trial I primarily saw the world through the objective lens. Now I see it primarily as a subjective dream world, and the objective aspect is secondary. The objective world is merely the field of dream possibilities filtered through my beliefs and expectations, so it seems semi-consistent.

Thirty days was enough time to do this experiment and learn the lessons I wanted to learn, but it’s not enough time to understand the long-term effects. The way I see the world is so different than when I first started this trial. That’s got to have some kind of impact over time, but I can’t predict what it will look like. I think I’ll need a few more months before I have a clearer sense of it.

CGW #5

What about CGW #5 in October? Some people suggested that I do the workshop from a subjective perspective. There’s also the idea of presenting it from a place of inspiration in the moment with no pre-planning.

I can safely reject the second idea based on the results of this trial. While speaking off the cuff for 3 days might be a fun experiment, I don’t have good reason to believe it would produce the best results. In the past I’ve seen very good results from the pre-planned elements like the exercises, so I’m going to keep what works well and continue to refine it as usual. CGW #4 worked very well, so I expect to use a similar format for CGW #5 with a number of tweaks to make it work even better.

If I feel inspired in the moment to stray from my plans, as I did with CGW #4, I’m happy to go with the flow of inspiration. But I’m not going to slack off on the planning and preparation. I simply don’t believe that would be the best approach.

As for the subjective perspective, that has become my default way of thinking now. This may affect how I present certain aspects of the workshop, but I don’t expect these to be significant sweeping changes. I’ve already been teaching the principles with a mixture of subjectivity and objectivity.

As for the core content of the workshop, that’s going to remain essentially the same. The cool thing about the 7 principles (Truth, Love, Power, Oneness, Authority, Courage, and Intelligence) is that they all have subjective and objective aspects. When we speak of Truth, for example, we can talk about your inner truth (your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs), or we can talk about external truth (perceptions and predictions).

The core principles are universal enough that you can apply them just as easily to a dream world as to a physical universe. So it doesn’t matter how you believe reality works — the principles can help you accelerate your growth either way. That’s because the principles stem from consciousness, regardless of where that consciousness comes from. If you’re conscious, you can use these principles to good effect.

I’d say the most likely source of improvements for CGW #5 is that I’m going to pay a lot more attention to my beliefs with respect to each segment. I’ll go over my notes from the previous workshops and think about how the feedback reflects my own beliefs and expectations. Then I’ll make changes based on what I believe will work best.

The bigger issue is that this trial has given me such a new sense of possibility that I can’t say what I’m going to do after CGW #5. I originally expected to do many more CGWs, but now I can’t say for sure whether I will or not. At the moment the October CGW is the only one scheduled. I haven’t lived with the results of this trial long enough to get a clear sense of what I’ll do next. It’s possible that I may schedule more CGWs, perhaps even in different cities, but it’s also possible I may decide to take my work in a different direction after CGW #5.

I’m very glad I did this trial. It was intense, but it was worth it.


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