Often times we confuse inspiration and motivation and lump both into the same bin. I see each of these words differently.
Look out for inspiration. One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of inspiration is the “act of drawing in,” which resonates with me.
I can get inspired by listening to a piece of music, watching a performance, or seeing a person engaged in their craft—a looking out, if you will, and a drawing in of that spark of interest, engagement, and creativity.
If you’re sitting in a quiet space that allows for self-reflection, you might suddenly feel a revelation come upon you. That’s inspiration paying you a visit.
Look in for motivation. While inspiration for me is a looking out and drawing in, I see motivation as a looking in and pushing out.
Motivation is the “general desire or willingness of someone to do something,” as defined by Merriam-Webster’s. When we take action, we provide a stimulus—a motivating force—that propels us forward. It’s action that takes center stage.
I don’t wait for motivation.
Motivation doesn’t find me.
Motivation resides in me.
I become motivated by taking a step forward in the direction I wish to go and after taking many steps the drive to continue can be self-propelling. I may falter. That’s when I look for a dose of inspiration and a reminder that motivation appears through action.
Sticky motivation. Where we want to go then is key to how strong our motivation is and how long we can sustain this momentum. Intrinsic motivation carries much more power than extrinsic motivation, as it taps into autonomy, purpose, and mastery rather than gold stars, money, and title, which have a shorter shelf life.
When we delve into what truly drives us, getting that gold star feels good for a moment, but mastering something that’s meaningful to us brings lasting satisfaction. Think of intrinsic motivation as sticky motivation.
We often tell ourselves that we’re waiting to be inspired. Don’t wait. Remember what has inspired you in the past and go seek it.
Walk through your favorite museum.
Go hiking in the woods.
Get coffee with the friend who is doing spectacular things.
Watch a documentary of people who are fighting the good fight.
And come home infused with inspiration. If you get enough of it, it’ll spark that flame inside of you to do the hard things that you haven’t been able to do.
We often tell ourselves that we’re waiting to feel motivated. Motivation won’t do a fly-by. There will be no long swaths of available time on your calendar for motivation to pluck itself down and greet you. Motivation is waiting for YOU to act before it appears. From tackling the serious to the mundane, motivation appears with action.
Suffering from writer’s block? Set your timer and write for 20 minutes. Rest for 1 minute. Start again. You’ll get into the groove.
Feeling bad that you haven’t gone out for a run in weeks? Get changed into your running clothes, put on your running shoes, and head out for a short run. Record how many miles you ran. Do it again the next day. Add it up at the end of the week. You’ll want to keep running. You’ll like the feel of your muscles tightening up and your body feeling stronger.
Frustrated when you can’t find that black pants with the fancy hem because your closet is a mess? Work on one shelf at a time, taking stuff out and re-folding and putting it back where it belongs. Tackle another shelf. As order appears, you won’t want to stop and before you know it, your closet will be much more organized and those black pants will be in plain view. Plus, you’ll get to where you need to go just a bit faster.
Motivation is momentum from action.
Inspiration is like oxygen you breathe in.
Both are nice.
I look for inspiration when my well is dry. I reawaken motivation inside me by taking a small step toward where I want to go and then taking another. I want to remember to reach out for inspiration and reach in for motivation. And, I wish that for you.
What inspires you? Have you waited too long to seek it? How many steps does it take for motivation to light up inside you? Can you take the first step today?
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A sprinkle of inspiration!
A gift for you.