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How To Be Inspired (Without Being a Copycat)

Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year? I don’t know about you, but my mind is blown at how fast time has flown!

It’s been a huge year for me, and I truly believe I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I have without the people in my life who inspire me.

We all know, though, either from our own experience or those peppy high school movies, how quickly admiration can turn into imitation, and that’s going to go sour really quickly.

We say imitation is the best form of flattery, and that’s true to an extent. When it stops us from being ourselves, though, and following our own paths, something has to give.

How do we strike a balance, though, between being inspired by someone and being a total copycat?

1. Figure out the difference between idolizing someone and being inspired by them.

In today’s day and age, with social media running 24/7, we get constant sneak peeks into the lives of celebrities and bigwigs. It can be fun to see what your favorite movie star is up to and get psyched about the singer who’s giving a concert not far from you.

Enjoying what someone does, though, is different from being inspired by and wanting to emulate it.

I love Taylor Swift, for example, and am a huge fan of her music, but I’m also incredibly inspired by her work ethic, the effort she puts into engaging with her fans, and how she makes time for things like baking and watching Law and Order: SVU.

I can take that inspiration and channel her work ethic into my life without copying her every move. See the difference?

2. Find inspiration close to home as well as further afield.

As appealing as it can be to find inspiration from someone famous, we tend to get a very polished view of their life. Even if they do have traits, habits, and routines worthy of emulation, it’s difficult for us to get insight into exactly how they accomplish these things, unless they happen to give an interview about it.

Someone closer to home, however, is not only going to be more accessible (you could take them out for coffee or shadow them at work for a day), but you’ll likely have a better picture of how the things you admire fit into their everyday life, because you see them living it up close and personal, rather than in the pages of a magazine.

I’m inspired in different ways by people like my mum, my partner, and some of my friends, and the best part is I can actually talk to them about it and see how they live their lives, day to day.

Think of it as surrounding yourself with positive influences.

3. Decipher which aspects of someone’s life most appeal to you, and why.

If you want to move past admiration and into inspiration territory, it’s important to figure out exactly what it is that appeals to you and why it’s so appealing.

Using my own examples, I would love to live a life well-balanced with work I adore (even when it’s hard), hobbies I love, and people I care about, like Taylor Swift.

This tugs at me because I’ve been working a day job as well as a side hustle for a while now, and it’s a daily struggle to keep my day job from dragging me down, and make time for the things that are important to me.

My mum has spent the last year overhauling her eating habits and attitude towards nutrition with the help of a naturopath; her wholehearted embrace of this new lifestyle is incredibly inspiring to me, especially as I realize more and more how what I eat affects how I feel and function.

My boyfriend spent several years playing the popular game League of Legends, at first enjoying it immensely and developing several strong friendships as a result. Over time, though, the game environment became toxic for him, and he finally stepped away from League when he realized how negatively it was affecting him. He hasn’t looked back since. I think back to that whenever I need to work on a behavior pattern or habit that isn’t serving me well.

Once you understand what exactly it is about someone that inspires you, weave those values into your life, choices, and actions.

4. “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”

Judy Garland’s beautiful quote couldn’t possibly be more apt in this situation.

When we’re looking at the aspects of someone’s life we want to emulate, we need to be careful to draw inspiration without copying them completely. Just because something works a certain way for someone else doesn’t mean it will serve us well, too.

For example, one of the things that has worked wonders for my mum is cutting wheat, dairy, and sugar out of her diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I should do the same thing. It does, however, encourage me to do some experimentation of my own to figure out what my food triggers are, and what does and doesn’t make me feel healthy.

Another scenario would be a coworker who seems to be constantly getting praise from your boss. If you start trying to do everything she does, exactly as she does it, it’s not going to be terribly helpful. Instead, maybe you pick up on one specific change you could try that would not only be helpful but fits organically into your lifestyle, like turning off your email for an hour every morning so you can focus on the task at hand.

Being inspired by someone can be an incredibly powerful tool, if used wisely. It can encourage you to reach for things you didn’t think were possible, achievements you never thought to strive for.

Today, why not spend a few minutes thinking about who inspires you, and brainstorm three things you could emulate or try out in your own unique way?

About the Author

Victoria Fry

Victoria is a writing coach who's a creative catalyst for burnt-out writers, helping them tell the stories jostling for room in their heart and mind. She also writes, devours books, loves to dance, and takes part in a weekly Star Wars tabletop game.