This life is an incredible thing: you are a spark of the infinite, walking the planet in human form. You can go anywhere, be anything, and live from an inspired place — if you have the will to do so.

So, why do we often choose the paths that are safe, easy, and which ultimately lead us further away from what we truly want?

Almost two years ago, I graduated from Columbia University.

I went to an Ivy League school to immerse myself in a pool of like-minded individuals who were passionate about bettering themselves and the planet. But, I also chose to attend Columbia because I believed that it would fill the massive hole of insecurity inside of me.

My inner voice constantly said, “If you go to Columbia, you will finally be good enough! Getting a name-brand diploma will be enough to mask your flaws.” I desperately wanted to believe it. I wanted to hide myself under a hefty list of accomplishments so no one could find the real me gasping for air underneath.

That’s why, while at school, I continuously strove to succeed at everything I was doing. I had a 3.9 average. I interned at some of the top publications in the country. At 19 years old, I had a startup under my belt that, for lack of financial success, was garnering media attention. I was on the fast track to everyone’s perceived ideal of “success.”

And, I felt like a corpse the entire time.

I got A’s on papers I wrote while watching Netflix and shoving endless amounts of frozen yogurt into my face. I worked jobs I hated to pay for rent and school. But even though I was achieving success by everyone else’s standards, I didn’t feel good about what I was doing or how I was doing it.

In the final semester of my senior year, I woke up to the shell of a life I had created for myself.

I was living in an apartment in Manhattan that I couldn’t afford, overworking myself, and overachieving at schoolwork that didn’t inspire me. While staring at my bare-walled, virtually furniture-less apartment, I had an epiphany: my life was as empty as my apartment. The voice I had believed for so long had led me to emotional poverty.

In that moment, I decided to shut off that voice, and I asked myself a completely novel question — for me, at least:

What inspires me?

Now, I let this question act as the driving force behind everything I do. I get to live the life of my dreams and construct my life based around the things that bring me the most energy and joy.

Here’s how I let inspiration change my life:

What Inspires Me to Move?

Before I started acting through inspiration, my workout regimen had little to do with fun, and everything to do with what would change my physical appearance. It turns out, those workouts were anything but joyful, and they were far from effective simply because I resented doing them so much. Now, before I work out, I ask myself what I feel like doing. What inspires me to move today? The answer can be anything from going on a hike to trying a new workout class that combines yoga and kickboxing. Sometimes, I’m inspired to move slowly and swim in the ocean; sometimes. I’m inspired to do a HIIT session in the park. No matter what, I make sure I move in a way that leaves me feeling light, energized, and joyful. Next time you want to work out, ask yourself which way you would feel the most inspired to move. You might be surprised to find what your body is craving!

What Inspires Me in My Career?

I used to believe that work was synonymous with stress. If I wasn’t anxiety-ridden, I wasn’t working hard enough; and if I wasn’t working hard enough, I wouldn’t be successful. I had to leave that belief behind if I was truly going to commit to living an inspired life. Now, I know that I’m inspired by constant change, so freelance work is a perfect option for me. As a writer, artist, and designer, I have the great joy of working with a multitude of inspiring brands and creators. Ask yourself how you can pursue a career that truly inspires you. You may discover a way to turn a passion into a side hustle, or make the decision to leave your current job for the career of your dreams!

What Inspires Me Every Day?

This is one of my favorite questions that I get to ask myself. I always block off portions of my day where I can make time to do what inspires me on a daily basis. Sometimes, it’s taking a bath and reading a fun work of fiction. Sometimes, I want to go to a new restaurant or gallery exhibition. Other days, I need a night in with my girlfriends watching reality TV. When we make time in our busy lives to ask ourselves what we would be the most inspired to do, we may be shocked at how small the changes are that we need to make in order to live our most joyful, spark-filled lives.

So, are you ready to live your most inspired life? All you have to do is ask yourself one question.