Has the Righteous Brothers’ hit “Lost that Loving Feeling?” suddenly become the theme song to the relationship you have with your work and the ideas and products you’ve been building? If it has, don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. After a strong start filled with excitement, passion, and a never-ending supply of brilliant ideas, it’s very common for that passion and excitement to start to fizzle. Doubt might creep in. FOMO and information overload might have you at a standstill. Your ideas might begin to seem boring or cliche. This is normal. This is okay. Luckily, there are quite a few ways to bring back that spark and reignite your passion, and bring back that loving feeling you once had.
Read on for 8 of my favorite, client-tested, ways to spark new life into your work.
1. Become a Follower.
Find 2 or 3 people in your niche or space, or a space you’re not in but might be interested in learning more about or breaking into.
Don’t just click “follow” and be done with it, though. Try to learn a bit about them: their backgrounds, interests, what others say about them, what they’re doing that’s working. Is there anything you can emulate? Put some real thought and time into choosing whom to follow and you just might be surprised at the relationships you can cultivate and the inspiration you can pick up.
2. Pinpoint Partnerships.
Do a little digging and find people looking to partner up for interesting collaborations. Or, be bold and suggest a collaboration idea to someone you admire (maybe one of the people you followed in tip #1?)
Don’t be afraid to stray from the obvious and well-worn collaborative paths and suggest a collaboration or partnership with someone in a space that might surprise your followers or potential customers and clients. Do you provide stylist services to women on a budget? How about starting a collaboration discussion with a local thrift shop to offer an affordable monthly subscription stylist and product service for thrifty fashion aficionados?
Or maybe surprise yourself and partner with a business in a space you never thought of working in. Are you a writer? How about approaching a restaurant blogger about writing a series of posts about unique menu copy? Be creative and take some time thinking about how you can help others and how others can help you.
3. Play a Game of “What If?”
When things are going a bit stale, introducing hypotheticals is a great way to bring back some life. Sit down, alone or with a partner, and think up some potential scenarios. Let’s say you’re creating a bagel of the month subscription service. You might ask questions like “What if we offered a DIY option that lets customers make their own gourmet bagels?” or “What if we branched out into gourmet cream cheeses?” What would happen? What would you need to do? What would you have to stop doing? Take it as far as you can!
There are many approaches to this and none are right or wrong. Be creative and have fun. Don’t worry about facts and stats to back up any scenarios or assumptions you come up with. Let your ideas and assumptions flow freely. You don’t have to stick to purely practical what ifs, and don’t be afraid to venture into the more superficial realms that might not, at first, appear to be all that important.
Here’s some hypotheticals I’ve worked on with actual clients:
- “What if we changed our packaging to blue and green?”
- “What if we offered 30 minute sessions instead of 60 minutes?”
- “What if we opened a pop-up shop?”
- “What if we packaged three services together?”
- “What if we sent handwritten thank you notes to all our subscribers?”
Once you’ve exhausted the “what ifs?”, it’s time to research your scenarios. Have others tried the same ideas? Any demographic information you might need? Does the info you find support your initial assumptions?
4. Spend Some Time Listening.
When was the last time you took the time to actually listen? I don’t mean spending five or ten minutes browsing Twitter or your newsfeed, but really, really listening?
Take a day or week or even longer to dig deep and find out what people are really saying about you, your brand, your niche, or your competitors. Don’t jump into the conversation, though! Let these listening sessions inspire you. You’re likely to come up with many new ideas and solutions. You might find cracks in the market or ways to reach an audience you didn’t even know existed, or ways to tweak your offering to address what real people are really asking for.
5. Play Catch Up.
Have you been slacking on keeping up with the news and trends in your space?
Spend some time catching up on what you might have missed. Set a goal to read at least 3 articles or posts per day on each topic you want to follow. You’ll discover plenty of new things that will spark some ideas, without being overwhelmed by tons of information coming your way. As an added bonus, you’ll be up-to-date and well-informed, which will make the work you do all that more efficient.
6. Learn Something New.
Is there one topic you always wished you knew more about? Or what about a skill you always wished you had picked up?
Take this time to learn. It doesn’t have to be anything related to your business or your industry. In fact, it’s even better if it’s not. Learning something new without the pressure of applying it to your work might just just be the spark you need to return to your work with a fresh, recharged mind.
7. Go Back to the Beginning.
Remember that feeling when you first started? When the excitement of planning and the rush of new ideas carried you though the rough times? When you were tracking down everything you possibly could about your idea, your industry, your niche, your competitors?
Recapture that. Go back to the beginning and take a look at your initial ideas from a new, more experienced perspective. Re-research some key points and things that have likely changed or evolved since you started, even if it’s only been a year or two. You’d be surprised how quickly information and new data is created and how much almost-certain facts can change as time goes by. Take a second look at any market or industry research you did. How did your assumptions back then color your findings? How do your current assumptions inform what you found then? I bet you’ll find a lot of new paths to take and new threads to follow, simply by going back to where you started.
8. Step Back. Reach Out.
If you’re really stuck, it might be time to get some professional help. Having an outsider take a fresh look at your business, your ideas, your services, or your projects can really make a huge difference.
Consider having an information audit done and having your information needs diagnosed and examined to find out exactly what information, research, and analysis you need to move forward. It’s not cheating to get help now and then when building your business or products. Slaving over that search engine when your time could be better used connecting with customers and clients, doesn’t means you’re more dedicated, passionate or involved than those who call in the pros. It’s all about prioritizing and knowing when–and whom– to ask for help.
Remember: Just because you seem to have lost that loving feeling, it doesn’t have to be permanent. The above tips are some of my favorite ways to get that spark back, through the power of sleuthing, researching, and diligent digging. It’s just another reason why research is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make towards your success.