Stuck in a Rut?
Finding Inspiration As An Economist
In a culture obsessed with measuring capabilities and results, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. As economists, inspiration awakens us to new possibilities within ourselves, allowing us to conquer our own limitations, and to succeed at doing what we do.
No matter what type of economist you are, whether you’re an industry economist, a government economist, or an academic economist, you have to be getting inspiration at least sometimes to grow as a person and to excel in your field. It is what helps us come up with new ideas and motivates us to get out of bed in the morning and start working.
For an academic economist specifically, inspiration plays a key role in your career. It is one of the most important main ingredients to your success as a researcher. From coming up with ideas and finding a research gap, to methodological analysis and writing style, inspiration is crucial every step of the way.
Unfortunately, we all feel uninspired at times. The good news is that’s a natural part of the cognitive process that everyone struggles with. If you’re currently stuck in a slump, here is a list of 6 things you can do to get inspired again:
1. Wake up early
Believe it or not, there’s something truly magical about the early morning. If you’ve ever woken up around sunrise, you would know that’s true. There’s something about the early hours of the day that give off positive vibes of absolute serenity, tranquility, and clarity of mind. During that time, your focus and energy are at their max. So use those hours wisely to think clearly, get creative, and find inspiration.
2. Get some alone time
Being out in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to get lost in the noise and lose your focus and any form of inner thought that inspires you. This is why it’s important to disconnect for a while and spend some quiet time in solitude. See where your thoughts take you. Ponder.
Give yourself some space for contemplation, and perhaps reflect on everything you’ve learned and accomplished and how you’ve made a positive difference in the world. Take a mental break to allow yourself to refocus. Write in a journal. Digging into your own mental processes can provide unexpected sources of inspiration.
3. Explore other fields; immerse yourself in learning something new
Inspiration is not always going to fall upon you out of the blue. Sometimes you just need to break your old thinking patterns, and get a fresh new perspective. The easiest way to do this is by reading about something new!
This is particularly good advice for economists working in academia or the research field. If you are trying to find inspiration for a new idea or trying to find a research gap, try reading about a new topic that is unrelated to your field. In order to think outside of the box you have to start getting into other, newer boxes! This will inspire your mind to think creatively, and you’ll more easily come up with new ideas or find a research gap.
4. Find a productive atmosphere, or create your own
The modern age makes it easy for us to lose sight of what’s important. Especially with the rise of social media, a lot of people find that they struggle with scattered attention. This leaves many of our minds filled with shallower thoughts, leaving no space for the deep thinking that would otherwise be our source of inspiration. With your attention constantly exposed to superficial issues and distractions such as celebrity news alerts, smartphone notifications, and our preferred social media platforms, it is easy to lose focus. This often extends outside of social media and into our real lives too.
Try to regain your focus and concentration perhaps by spending some time in a productive, enlightening atmosphere that becomes your go-to place for inspiration. This could be a library for instance, or any place where your mind can unwind and filter out everyday thought, allowing you to refocus and be purposeful and intentional with your time.
5. Explore some textbooks!
For all the economics researchers out there, if you’re struggling to find the spark that will fuel your next research project, reading some textbooks is a great way to start! Needless to say, textbooks are a great source of information that simplify the roots of many concepts. This makes it easier for you to find a research gap, or to find your spark of inspiration. Reading through a few textbooks will help your mind spot some unique connections between certain subtopics, or in other words, identify a new relationship to be tested; and that could form your next research topic!
6. Don’t give up on yourself when you can’t seem to get inspired
When you’re feeling sluggish or not in the right mood, it’s easy to start seeing yourself as a person who is incompetent and not at all skilled at what you do. That’s not necessarily true! Realize that there are some times in life when you won’t really feel inspired, and that’s absolutely normal. It’s alright to feel dull sometimes. Nobody is constantly productive and constantly being inspired with good ideas 100 percent of the time. So, remember that it’s okay to let your mind shut off for a while and just relax. You can be brought out of your stagnation phase under just the right conditions!
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