What is the Difference Between Inspiration and Motivation?

how inspiration is different than motivation

Do you need inspiration or motivation to create? While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are different. If you want to move towards your goals, develop new habits, or put ideas into the world, you need to understand how inspiration and motivation play together.

I am known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach. I have a personal understanding of these terms, and discuss inspiration often in the Inspired Creator Community. But let’s look at some definitions that give us commonly accepted meanings.

Inspiration vs. Motivation

Most dictionaries define inspiration in similar terms. For instance, Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as follows: “Something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create.”

Other definitions include “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative; the quality or state of being inspired,” and “a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.”

Typical usage examples might be: “Joan had a flash of inspiration,” “There was a rare moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull performance,” and “I had an inspiration.”

Motivation, on the other hand, is a little different. Merriam-Webster defines motivation as “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something.” It’s also defined as “a motivating force, stimulus, or influence” and “the condition of being motivated.”

Common examples of this word’s usage include: “Some students need motivation to help them through school,” “the athlete lacked motivation,” “Fear of failure was the motivation for his success,” and “I have motivation after my coaching session.”

Motivation Brings Inspiration to Life

While these terms could be mistakenly thought to share the same meaning, I see them as very different. Inspiration is the spark. Motivation is the wind that fans the spark into a fire. Inspiration is generated internally, while motivation can be generated internally or externally. In either case, motivation is the active element that brings inspiration to life.

Let’s say you hear somebody speak, and, as a result, you get inspired. The speech generates that internal feeling of inspiration. Inspiration arises from the inside, first, as emotion and, second, as a creative vision.

Motivation is generated as a result of inspiration or from an outside source. The internal feeling of inspiration causes you to feel motivated, and that motivation causes you to take action. The higher your degree of motivation, the greater chance you will take action to bring your inspiration into the world.

However, a performance coach might motivate you to practice harder by affirming that you have the potential to go to the Olympics. Or a doctor could motivate you to change your diet by saying your health is in jeopardy if you don’t change your eating habits. These are external motivations.

In some cases, you don’t need to feel inspired to be motivated. However, the vision of going to the Olympics or living a long life could provide inspiration that fuels your motivation.

Getting from Inspiration to Action

Inspiration provides an internal awakening or insight. It’s the light bulb moment. Motivation offers the internal push that compels you to take action that keeps that light bulb turned on.

Inspiration does not always result in action. It’s a spark with the ability to light the fire (under your butt). But motivation turns the spark into a fire and continually gives it fuel.

Remember that inspiring speech? Your inspiration might have motivated you to take action. Too often, though, your inspiration remains in your journal along with your good intentions. You don’t feel motivated enough to take action.

You might take action if you want to change or succeed badly enough, or you know it’s good for you (like the example of the doctor). Possibly, your friend challenges you to take action, thus providing accountability and support.

But more often than not, your motivation wanes, and you let the fire sparked by inspiration go out.

Inspiration Isn’t Enough

Let’s say I get the idea for a new book. That flash of inspiration motivates me to sit down and begin writing. But after two days of writing, I may stop.


Sometimes inspiration is enough to motivate us, but, more often, it is not. Typically, the obstacles to staying motivated (and inspired) are in our heads.

For instance, as I work on the book, I might become afraid of failure. My old stories about not being good enough, never following through, or being judged start playing in my head. Before I know it, I no longer feel motivated. And my inspiration dwindles to a little wisp of smoke. The fire goes out.

I felt inspired and motivated, and then I talked myself out of both.

To remain inspired, you need a high level of motivation. Each action you take as a result of feeling motivated increases your level of motivation and keeps your inspiration alive.

Lower Resistance to Increase Motivation

Maintaining your motivation requires low levels of resistance to the action necessary to give your inspiration life. Here are five ways to lessen your resistance.

1. Know what causes your resistance. Resistance is typically caused by negative thoughts and disempowering beliefs, which include fear. Pay attention to when you feel afraid or begin hearing the negative chatter in your head. When that happens, get present; fear comes from a focus on future negative potentialities. Then focus your attention on the future you desire—one that includes seeing your intuition to fruition.

2. Know your purpose. You can overwhelm your resistance with a strong sense of why you want to take action. Meaning generates action. Focus on how your inspiration aligns with your purpose—your Big Why. How does staying motivated help you fulfill that purpose? There is your reason to keep taking action.

3. Stay inspired. Do things and focus your attention on the things that keep you inspired. Revisit the event that caused that spark of inspiration in the first place. Visualize the result of your inspiration. Imagine what you and your life will be like if you stay inspired…and motivated.

4. Keep taking action. No matter what, keep moving forward. When the voice in your head says, “Maybe not today,” respond, “Definitely today…and every day.” Action keeps motivation alive; inaction kills it.

5. Align with your spirit. Consider a different definition of inspiration—“in spirit.” The late Dr. Wayne Dyer explained that when you feel inspired by something, you live in line with your spirit. Therefore, if you are inspired, you are walking your spirit’s path, and that’s when things start to click. That’s when you get in the flow, and the internal chatter and blocks fall away.

Simply said, inspiration leads to motivation, but motivation followed by action brings your inspiration into the world. Without both inspiration and motivation, it’s hard to create anything. Reduce your resistance, and you’ll find your sparks of inspiration burning brightly in the world.

Do you consistently have the motivation to take action on your inspiration? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with your social network or someone you feel will benefit.

Never miss one of my videos! Click here to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Inspired Creator CommunityWould you like to learn how to get inspired and stay motivated? Give me 90 minutes of your time, and I’ll help you discover the inspired next steps that will help you achieve the personal and spiritual growth you desire. Apply for a FREE Certified High Performance Coaching breakthrough strategy session. Fill out this application.

Or, if you prefer a spiritual and personal growth program (and group coaching), click here to become a Founding Member of the Inspired Creator Community. Get the same world-class Certified High Performance Coaching program, and learn to live a life that feeds your soul.

Photo courtesy of StockSnap .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Free Video: How to Live a Life that Feeds Your Soul

Free 15-Minute Strategy Session

Do you:

  • know you can be or do more?
  • dream of living a more fulfilling life?
  • wish you could feel more spiritually connected?
  • want to make a bigger difference?

Let's chat about how to get you from where you are to where you want to go.


Sign up for a free 15-minute coaching session with me.

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap