Written by: Lach Ravelo

Motivation vs Inspiration: 11 Easy Ways to Tell Them Apart


Everyone needs a little motivation and inspiration every now and again, right? It’s undeniable that feeling a bit low on energy can be the difference between grinding out another day and giving up. But what’s the difference between motivation and inspiration?

In this post, we’ll go over the main differences between the two, and how you can tell them apart.

Motivation can be a fickle thing. Sometimes it’s there; sometimes it’s not. Motivation is at the heart of your greatest accomplishments — but so is your inspiration.

When I was in high school, I was addicted to reading inspirational quotes. I would scour the Internet for them and pin them to my wall. The problem was that I was getting so much inspiration that I didn’t have time to make it happen.

As you can see, while inspiration is a good thing to have, it is in a completely different ballgame than motivation. 

Motivation vs inspiration? There’s a deeper meaning between these two concepts.

The question is: how do you even tell the difference between them?

But first, let’s take a look at the most common definition of motivation. 

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What is Motivation? 

what is motivation

Well, when I say “motivation,” I’m talking about something that drives us forward towards achieving goals or reaching milestones. These goals could be anything from getting up early every morning, to finishing an important project at work, or learning new skills like coding.

Nevertheless, having motivation matters because without it, we won’t have the drive to face the obstacles that hinder us from reaching our goals. Without motivation, we’ll never reach our full potential.

Think back to high school. Did you ever wonder how intelligent people ended up failing their classes? Or how someone who was athletic became overweight?

The answer is simple: they likely lacked motivation and didn’t want to put forth the effort required to excel.\


What is Inspiration? 

what is inspiration

Inspiration is different than motivation. While both are necessary for varying levels of success, they serve very different purposes.

When we’re inspired, we experience feelings of happiness, excitement, and joy. These emotions motivate us to take action on whatever goal we set out to achieve. They help us overcome obstacles and push through challenges. And they make all those challenging tasks seem worth it.

I know you’re asking: but what if we don’t have any inspiration? What happens then?

On the flip side, when we lack inspiration, we often struggle with anxiety, stress, and burnout. Our brains release less feel-good hormones that could potentially affect our performance over time. If this continues for a while, we then become unmotivated and uninspired to take action. 

These negative feelings could then lead us to failure if we do not confront them early enough.


Similarities of Inspiration and Motivation

motivation vs inspiration

Inspiration and motivation share some similarities. One common denominator is that they are both powerful forces that have the potential to push you forward. 

Inspiration is the force that encourages you to achieve your goals. On the other hand, motivation gives you the energy to accomplish those goals. It’s a force that helps you overcome obstacles and push yourself further.

If you want to get motivated to achieve your goals on a personal level or even for professional development, think about what you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, you’ll find extra motivation to keep moving toward your goal.


Motivation vs Inspiration: The Key Differences

Now that we know what each one does, here’s where the key differences lie. Let’s look at them in more detail. 


1) Inspiration without motivation is like having an idea but not executing it.

what is difference between motivation and inspiration

Inspiration generally happens when an individual experiences something that makes them want to change their outlook in life or behavior.

Motivation is usually a byproduct of inspiration. Often, it involves changing habits, attitudes, or beliefs. 

For example, a person may feel inspired to join a gym, but they will need to motivate themselves to actually go to the gym.

Simply put: inspiration is the state of being inspired; motivation is the process or action of being inspired. 


2) You may have both motivation & inspiration at once.

You probably know by now that it takes more than an inspiration for a person to take action. Most of the time, they need the motivation to do so. 

That’s why having both motivation and inspiration is the best way to ensure success.


3) Motivation is more important than inspiration.

difference motivation and inspiration

Inspiration alone isn’t enough to help you move forward, but motivation can.

Think about it: no amount of inspiration can compensate for lack of motivation. 

And get this: inspiration doesn’t last forever. When you get bored, you stop feeling inspired.

This is why motivation is important—it helps keep you going even after you’ve lost interest. 


4) Inspiration is the light. Motivation is the fire. 

focus on motivation vs inspiration

Inspiration is like a beacon guiding you towards your goals. 

Motivation, on the other hand, is the fire that moves us to action. It cultivates the spark of inspiration into a flame so you can finally act on your goals. 

Motivation drives your need to achieve and to make a difference. The absence of motivation will prevent you from reaching anything of value, merely allowing you to survive.


5) Motivation is short-term; inspiration can be long-term.

Motivation varies in its effects. Motivation can make you do something in the short term. For example, you might be motivated to work out, but you won’t necessarily stick to it long-term.

Inspiration is different because it can last you a long time. You’re inspired to work out because you know you’ll feel good, get into shape, and be healthy in the long run.

You may need motivation in the short term to get you started, but ultimately, inspiration is like a booster so that you will be more successful in the long run.


6) Motivation is internal; inspiration is external.

difference motivation and inspiration (2)

Motivation is internal, but inspiration is the opposite. 

Motivation comes through self-discipline and dedication to your goals. In comparison, inspiration often comes from watching others succeed.


7) Motivation comes from good habits.

When we think of motivation, most of us think of doing things because we want to. We have our reasons for wanting to do them. But when we talk about inspiration, we usually mean being influenced by someone else who does those same actions.

For example, my friends, who regularly work out are an inspiration for me. But that feeling alone is not enough to drive me into action and start exercising. I need to build and reinforce my motivation by starting with good habits.


8) Motivation could be based on fear. Inspiration isn’t. 

are motivation and inspiration the same

Fear motivates people to act. Fear makes us afraid of losing money, relationships, jobs, etc., which leads us to try harder to avoid these situations. This is how we motivate ourselves to do better at school, work, sports, etc.

But inspiration is entirely unrelated to fear. Inspiration often comes when we see someone else achieve their dreams. Seeing someone overcome obstacles inspires us to follow suit.


9) Inspiration can give you a boost of motivation.

If you see someone succeeding, then you may become inspired to pursue similar success yourself. However, if you’re not determined to take any action, you won’t be able to accomplish much. 

So, while inspiration gives you a push toward achieving your goal, motivation helps you stay focused once you’ve decided upon one.


10) When you inspire someone, you change them forever.

is inspiration the same as motivation

You’ve probably heard stories of famous athletes, musicians, actors, writers, artists, politicians, business leaders, etc., who were once considered failures before achieving fame and fortune. They didn’t always seem destined for great things until they found inspiration somewhere along the way.

This kind of inspiration changes everything. No wonder: once you find the right inspiration and act on it, you never look back.


11) Inspiration can give you a boost of motivation.

You’ll never know how difficult something is until you attempt to do it. That’s why a little inspiration every now and then is good for the soul.

A wise man once said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

Sometimes all you need is a little boost of motivation to get you started. It could be the desire to get out of bed in the morning or just the motivation to finish your report.

Either way, you can always get a good boost of motivation with a bit of inspiration from the people you admire. 


How to Boost Inspiration and Motivation

Inspiration and motivation often get lost in the shuffle. It’s easy to think that we’re motivated enough. But sometimes, we need to be reminded of the reasons why we want to achieve specific goals.

When it comes to motivation, there’s no magic formula that works 100% of the time. Here are 12 ways you can do so you can find inspiration and motivation:


1. Write down your why.

what is motivation psychology

If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, ask yourself why you want to achieve your goals. 

Why does it matter? 

Why are you willing to put in the effort?

What will happen when you succeed? 

Your answers to these questions will help clarify what is most important to you.


2. Find inspiration by looking for inspiration. 

Ask yourself: who has achieved more than you ever thought possible? How did they accomplish such feats?

You might even consider reading biographies about successful individuals. This way, you can learn from others’ mistakes as well as successes.


3. Get some perspective.

what is motivation meaning

Do you feel like giving up on your dream because you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything yet?

You’re not alone. Everyone struggles in some way. 

That is why it is important to view things from various perspectives. By doing so, you can gain better insight into how you can achieve your goals. 


4. Think long-term instead of short-term.

Inspiration and motivation aren’t always the easiest things to come by. So if you’re struggling to find inspiration, try thinking about the bigger picture. Instead of focusing on the small tasks at hand, think about the result.

For example, if you have an exam next week, don’t focus only on studying for that test. Instead, try thinking about how you’d use those skills later on.

Imagine yourself achieving your goals and living a life full of happiness and success. That should give you enough motivation to get started on your day.

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5. Remember where you came from.

what is inspiration means

Think about the obstacles you had to overcome to get to where you are right now. Remind yourself of these challenges and use them as motivation to keep moving forward.

Taking the time to remember where you came from can also help you to appreciate the contributions made by those who came before you. 

6. Get feedback.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there’s usually someone who has done it better than you already. It doesn’t matter if it’s your parents or siblings, friends, grandparents, or even celebrities. 

The point is that there’s always someone out there who has been there before you.

Getting honest feedback and advice from these people can be motivating and inspirational. And if you’re lucky, you might discover the answers to your most pressing questions.


7. Make time for inspiration.

is inspiration the same as motivation (2)

Inspiration and motivation are two of the biggest challenges facing creative people. They’re at the heart of every project, and they often drive us to create the best work possible.

But when we’re feeling low on energy or inspiration, it’s hard to keep working on projects. The problem is there aren’t many proven ways to boost these feelings except for you to make time for inspiration to find you. 

How do you do this? Simple.

Take a walk, read a book, take a class, or watch a film. 

Inspiration comes when you’re feeling relaxed and happy. When you force yourself into stressful situations, you won’t experience much inspiration.


8. Keep your goals visible.

When you set goals, you’re setting yourself up for success. 

But sometimes, goals get lost in the shuffle. They become buried under other priorities. Or, they become so vague that they aren’t even worth pursuing.

That’s why it’s much easier to achieve those goals if you can see them clearly and easily. 

If you write down your goals, post them somewhere visible, or put sticky notes around your house with reminders like “goals achieved!”, you’ll feel more motivated to continue pushing toward your goals.


9. Don’t let negativity ruin your day.

why inspiration matters

Negative thoughts can ruin your day. They could break your motivation and prevent you from seeking inspiration. 

When you feel like you’re drowning in negative thoughts, try to divert your mind to happier ones. Go to your happy place. Imagine how you would feel when you finally reach your goals. Focus on what you’ve accomplished rather than what you haven’t. 

Try to think of more positive thoughts by letting your imagination soar. 

Do all these, but don’t forget to assess where you’ve gone wrong and what you can do to make things better. 


10. Find inspiration everywhere. 

We live in an age where inspiration has become a buzzword. Is it something that everyone should chase after? 

No. Not really. 

You see, inspiration can be everywhere – only if we open our eyes. 

The truth is, there are so many ways to find inspiration. A simple walk in the park will sometimes give you lots of inspiration. Sometimes it happens when you’re reading a book. 

Even a casual conversation with a neighbor might do the trick. 

The point is, try to open your eyes to more sources of inspiration. Who knows what you’ll come up with! 


11. Do things that make you happy.

why motivation matters

If you want to get motivated, then think of ways to bring happiness into your life. Try to focus on the positive side of life. 

Happiness doesn’t mean having a huge house, fancy car, and a lot of money. It means doing things that make you happy.

What makes you happy?

Go ahead, and indulge! 


12. Be grateful for what you have right now.

It may seem silly, but being grateful will help motivate you. 

When you start thinking about all the good things you already have, you’ll realize how lucky you are. This will make you appreciate every little thing that you have right now. 

And who knows? It might spark your motivation to do better each day. 

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where inspiration comes from

There are a lot of different opinions out there on motivation vs inspiration. Both are important, but obviously, they are different in so many ways.

Hopefully, we were able to help you learn more about the differences between motivation and inspiration. We hope that you were also able to get some great tips for boosting your motivation and inspiration.

Remember, it’s sometimes the small steps that can make a big difference. 

If you’re interested in learning more about motivation and inspiration, we’d love to hear what you thought about this!

Leave us a comment below. 

motivation vs inspiration creativity mesh



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