Inspiration vs. Motivation

It may seem like a subtle distinction, but the worlds of motivation and inspiration are millions of miles apart.

A lot of people use the words “motivated” and “inspired” interchangeably. But I’ve found something different to be the case.

When I try to motivate myself, nine times out of ten I’m pushing myself to do something I don’t really care about.

Motivation is about psyching yourself up. Chest-pounding. Fire-walking. Heavy-metal riffs. You get the point.

Inspiration comes from a completely different place. The word inspiration means to be in spirit. When you’re tuned into your spirit, you are naturally drawn to do whatever feels best. You may do things that aren’t outwardly productive. Or you may write a book in 30 days. Either way, it’s all good because fulfillment is the end result.

Motivation, on the other hand, usually has a lot to do with fake growth. You think you should be doing something (without thinking about why) and it often leads in the direction of something that doesn’t really matter. It’s what you’re “supposed” to be doing. It’s just a good idea, not a passionate, burning desire that emanates from the core of your being.

So, motivation is about things that you think you should do or that you’re supposed to do. Inspiration is about being called to act because you’re in direct alignment with the magnetic, luminous marrow of potential that is you.

When you’re inspired you know because…

  • Life feels effortless.
  • You have to hold yourself back from starting right now.
  • Your passion burns steady, it doesn’t flatline.
  • It occupies magnitudes of mental space, there’s no vacancy.
  • You feel called to do this; the feeling comes from your core.
  • You feel it in your bones.

How we define inspiration and motivation

I asked a few people on Twitter what their thoughts were, and here were some of my favorite responses:

“Motivation is required when you’re not aligned with your highest values.” — Tony

“Motivation is not always positive.” —Haidn Foster

“Motivation is external, inspiration is internal” —Simon Lawry

“Motivation is inner drive to fulfill goal. Inspiration is having a glimpse of who you really are.” — Bambooforest

“Motivation is the push. Inspiration is the pull.” (I love this response!) —Natalie DeBruin

It’s interesting to me how everyone sees inspiration and motivation differently. But how do we actually stay inspired?

Continual inspiration is about continual realignment

You might be thinking… “How do I get inspired?” Well, you can’t. Inspiration isn’t something you get, it comes from within, it comes from your core.

So being inspired isn’t about doing something external to bring something in. That’s motivation, remember?

Being inspired is about a constant process of realignment. Whenever you’re feeling like you have to push, it’s time to realign. Whenever you’re feeling like you’re not enjoying life, it’s time to realign. Whenever you feel like you’re trying to fulfill a quota or expectation, it’s time to realign.

Realignment isn’t anything complicated. It’s very simple, actually. All it involves is drawing inward and exploring what you really want. Your home cosmography, as Thoreau put it.

So, what do you really want? Not what should you want, not what you think might be a good idea for you to want. What lights you up? Once you’ve got a grasp on that, stay with it for a little while. Bathe in it, savor it. Taste it on your tongue. Feel it tingling down your spine.

It feels good, doesn’t it?

If it doesn’t feel good, you’re still not there. Keep going.

Once you’ve come to that state of anticipation, you’re inspired. You’re In Spirit. And you’d rather have that than trying to motivate yourself, right?


Comment & Add Your Voice

Theron Stone October 25, 2010 at 6:09 pm

This is an interesting perspective, for sure, but I think you might be trying too hard to turn inspiration and motivation into good vs. bad. Referring back to my Twitter comment – @thernstne …inspiration comes from relaxation, motivation comes from tension – I’ll add that there is value in, and a time for, both; the key is learning how to dance between them, and knowing when to let each take the lead.

Thanks for the thought provoking post…looking forward to more ;)


Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

I don’t particularly see motivation as something that’s negative, I do think that it can have it’s place. Not everything you’re going to be inspired to do… paying your taxes for instance. But for me personally I know when I’m trying to motivate myself, I’ve usually gotten off track a bit.

Pawan July 11, 2013 at 11:52 am

Hi Theron,

I couldn’t agree with you more. In my own life I have seen major improvements in last few years by motivating me to do what is beneficial and avoiding what feels good in the moment but is harmful in the long term. I have managed to end the vicious thought cycles of victim->punisher->judge that is the cause of all emotional suffering and replaced them with empowering thoughts where I am responsible for my present and future.

Having said that, I think motivation works with the logical side of the brain and can only take us so far. Once we have attained control over the prewired patters of negative thinking and we are ready to take our lives to the next level that is not driven by a need and fear driven mindset, the question arises what to do? Coz we gotta do something! And that where inspiration comes in. As Jonathan mentioned, inspiration means in spirit. I think if we pay attention to what we do, there are activities that bring us joy and a sense of flow where we loose sense of time and space. These activities leave us with a feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment that can not be attained by watching TV. For me some of these activities are working in the yard, cooking cleaning, watching romantic comedies with my wife, and being outdoors. I don’t have to force myself to do these things. I look forward to do them no matter how tired or busy I am. I am inspired to do them without having to motivate myself.

And that’s what I want from my life. To discover my true nature and to live my true nature so I am always in a state of flow without allowing my ego to dicate what I “should” do with my life.

Brett October 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Kick ass post, Jonathan.

I can usually tell whether I’m doing something I truly like to do based on my emotional state. If it fluctuates, then I know that I’m not doing something I truly want to do, and vice-versa.

At the same time, though, there are some things in life, no matter how radical we get, that need to get done. That’s where motivation comes in.


Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 10:18 am

I agree Brett. And that’s when you just have to do what’s needed.

Mark Moran October 25, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Great post Jonathan – I think you really nailed the difference between motivation and inspiration.
Definitely not good vs. bad for me – just different…


Tom Sörhannus October 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thank you for making clear the difference between motiavation and inspiration Jonathan. It´s true we sometimes get these mixed up. At least I do. Thinking about inspiration as being in spirit is a good point to start from. Maybe you can also think of it as motivation coming from the mind and inspiration from the heart.


David Timur October 25, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Awesome post. Thank you.


Annie Stith October 26, 2010 at 1:54 am

Hey, Jonathan!

In the spirit of being unique… ;-)

I have Fibromyalgia (FM), and one of the most bothersome symptoms for me is a very heavy fatigue that causes me to have little or no energy. Another less-known symptom is referred to as “Fibro-fog,” wherein it’s difficult to remember things despite their importance, or be able to follow a logical order.

When it comes to my passion, then, there are days I really ought to set it aside, but at the time don’t always realize it.

I mention this because I’ve heard some of the stories about all-nighters, or staying up very late to work on a blog while also working a “conventional” job, or just drinking heavily enough to have a hangover. Same problems.

(And then there are the days I take my painkillers and go to my “happy place,” but we won’t cover that here.)

In my own personal experience, I’ve found it’s best on those fatigued days to go ahead and allow my passion to ligt the fire of my inspiration, but limit myself to inspired planning… that I write in a separate notebook, to be reviewed on a day when I’m able to think more clearly and determine whether or not the ideas I had make any sense at all, are feasible and fit my overall plans.

I get some fantastic ideas this way, but it’s one jewel shining in a whole pile of nonsense I’d have had to undo, if I’d imlemented all of it instead of limiting myself to paper.

So, I’d suggest if you’re inspired and wired, check first to see if you’re overtired so you don’t get mired in sh*t.



Alex Blackwell October 26, 2010 at 4:34 am

Inspiration is the unexpected thought or idea; motivation is gathering the energy to pursue it.



Kent @ The Financial Philosopher October 26, 2010 at 6:18 am

I haven’t commented in a while but your posts are a wonderful example of what you call “continual inspiration” in the form of “realignment.”

I like how you stress the importance of creating inspiration from within. Often, people look outside to be “inspired,” which is no different than eating a piece of chocolate cake: It is quickly consumed and is temporary, leaving the person deflated until the next inspiration comes along.

Inspiration as an internal and continual process of realignment is a much healthier perspective.

Thanks Jonathan…



Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

Dude, it’s great to see you here again Kent. You’re one of the longest time readers (and friends), it’s always great to see your comments. I always feel like you add to the discussion in a meaningful way.

Lach October 26, 2010 at 7:10 am

“Motivation” is getting to be such a cliché. It’s the old-school style of personal development that’s based on massive effort and overcoming obstacles by brute force. A lot of people advocate this approach, but I think it’s foolhardy. Its popularity is based more on the social band wagon than on actual effectiveness. Sure, some people show good results by this method, but I suspect it’s because they also happen to be inspired and have massive momentum which fuels their motivation rather than vice versa.

I used to subscribe to this mind-set too. But I found that motivation garnered through this approach was never sustainable, and it would always eventually crash. Motivation feels like trying to “get it done” whereas inspiration feels like being in love with the process. Give me inspiration any day.


Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

Yes. Power through! Give it all you got!

It just gets old after a while, you know?

I’d rather be efficient, intelligent and inspired than always trying to win by barreling through like a gorilla on steroids.

Deb Gentile October 26, 2010 at 8:20 am

Over many years, I’ve had various pursuits–things I wanted to do. Over the years, I’ve realized the ones that are not accompanied by a certain passion eventually become passing fancies, while those that are fueled by passion & inspiration grow more satisfying. Thank you for a most excellent piece on this subject.


Thursday Bram October 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

I’d certainly agree that it is better to be inspired than to have to psych yourself up to do something — but (and this is a big one for me), I’ve found over and over that I still need to motivate myself to handle parts of my business.

I adore what I do, in general. But there are a lot of nuts and bolts that go into a business and some of them are less entertaining than others. I motivate myself to handle things like bookkeeping by thinking about the passion that I have for other parts of my business, like writing.


Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 10:21 am

You’re absolutely right Thursday. Some things are just going to suck no matter what. As many of these things as possible I try to hand off to other people that enjoy them. :)

Christopher Foster October 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

To be in spirit. In that subtle, invisible place of true inspiration that is in us all and that IS us. No more a whip cracking in our ears saying “I must do this, I must do that.” Effective action born in the moment of love and truth and not the harsh mandates of our own personal Chief Motivator. A fine message here Jonathan.


Sandi Amorim October 26, 2010 at 11:39 am

Inspiration for me is also breathing life into something, or something breathing life into me. How I feel when I watch the ocean for awhile. It’s an external thing, but impacts me at an internal place, different from motivation. Do you know what I mean?


jakedahn October 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

For me inspiration is an external force that causes motivation to be created.


Gabe October 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Awesome post. I just wanted to point out that the distinction you make has also been explored within the psychological literature, albeit with a somewhat different framework and terminology. What you’ve been calling “inspiration”, the psychologists would call a state in which you have a single motivation (or maybe multiple motivations with the same goal): everything is aligned, so moving towards the goal feels effortless. In contrast, the state you call “motivation”, they would refer to as a state in which you have two conflicting motivations (say, one about what you think you should do, and one about what you feel truly called to do). In this situation, you have to make a decision to follow one motivation and suppress the other, and this requires effortful self-control and application of willpower. There’s lots of experimental evidence to suggest that willpower is a temporary resource that runs out and has to be replenished (hence the need for chest-beating, getting yelled at by Tony Robbins, etc.) If you’re interested in the scientific research on the topic (and I apologize if you’ve already posted about this–I’m new to your blog!), you might Google “ego depletion,” the term the scientists use for that un-fun activity of forcing yourself to do something that you don’t really want to do. Life is just so much more easy and enjoyable when everything’s aligned!


Amy Balog October 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hi Jonathan

I started just to think of the word “motivation” and here’s what came to mind…

The general reaction you get when people mention, “motivational speaker” and then eyes roll. Come to think of it I hear Tony Robbins on fairly irritating informercial like commercials on XM radio now…hmmm.

Motivation…the classic movie Office Space has so much fun with this with banners hanging on the walls… cliche statements. The 80 (& 90S)s sapped the use of word motivation and ruined the brand of that word…it was over exposed and attached to things that were entirely unmotivating to mass employee populations.

A badly used phrase in performance reviews, “I need you to get motivated…”

So I see your point.

That leads to a bigger question for companies. How does senior leadership inspire their people and/or their customers? I heard a presentation from a Starbucks VP today – this VP talked about how Starbucks changed their mission statement (with more inspiring words….and literally it is this) “Our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.” ….

I think we can officially say “inspiration” is “in”..


Travis Webster-Booth October 26, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Motivation=I don’t really care and Inspiration=fulfillment. I get it. I love it.

You have an uncanny knack for demystifying these things.


Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion October 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Heck of a post here Jonathan. When I think about motivation vs inspiration, to me it’s all about ‘feelings’. What I mean by that is when I’m inspired, I can feel something from within me, essentially burning to get out. Motivation is different, it’s getting something done even when there’s no inner yearning to make ‘it’ happen.

Notwithstanding, motivation has a huge place in all our lives. I don’t feel inspired to get on my elliptical one hour each evening, but I do it because I know my body and mind will turn to mush if I don’t. Such is the essence of motivation and it clearly too has its place.

Thanks again for the wonderful read.


Pete Sisco October 26, 2010 at 9:05 pm

What resonates with me is the concept of realignment. Most people want a cookie cutter plan they can follow like a recipe. But the truth is more subtle and complex and it does require nearly constant refinements, adaptation and trial and err – or realignment. Bingo. Embrace change and realignment or fail.


Laura Lee Bloor October 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hey Jonathan,
I was interested in the webinar that’s today, but I can’t sit in on it since I’m at work. Will it be recorded and available later?

As for the post, I don’t necessarily think, for me, that motivation means I’ve gotten off track. I still have to motivate myself to exercise on a regular basis, which I think is a good thing since I’m always happy I did after the fact. If I didn’t motivate myself to get off my butt and do it, I’d be just as happy sitting on the couch reading, writing, or watching TV.

If anything, I find motivation is very helpful in pushing me to do things out of my comfort zone. I find both inspiration and motivation to be equally powerful.


Ruben Berenguel October 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

I think most times I’ve felt truly inspired have been moments of mathematics research. The feeling of being about to sleep, thinking for a moment on your problem and having a string of “aha!” moments, one after the other is incomparable, and the need to rush out and start writing theorems from dusk till dawn.

Other moments have been related with ideas I’ve had to write to my blog, or programming projects I’ve wanted to carry out. But in most cases, maths. I guess it is my passion, although making a living from it is close to 0.


Latest in my blog: Overwhelmed With Projects? Declare Task Bankruptcy


Alyx Falkner October 28, 2010 at 7:55 am

Great thought provoking post, Johnathan. I can definitely agree with where you’re coming from. I’ve always had a tendency to follow more closely those things I’ve been inspired with and would have to keep myself going with those things that motivated me. To me inspiration is a feeling of what you’re suppose to be doing and who you really are. And motivation is usually tied in with some type of material or physical gain, I get motivated when I want to achieve something. Keeping myself motivated is hard at times because the things that motivate me is seen with the eyes and those things that usually inspire me are seen with my heart. Great stuff man!


Rich Proctor October 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Excellent insight.

The difference between inspiration and motivation is something that I had not considered before. If I am honest I had always lumped the two together, but as I read through this article I could clearly see the truth that you laid out.

When I look at the demands of my life I can clearly see the difference between when I am having to motivate myself to follow through on a task versus when I am inspired to do the work. It’s a huge difference and I’m amazed I could not see it before.

Thanks for a great article.


Pavel Nosikov October 29, 2010 at 5:34 am

Thank you for an inspiring entry, Jonathan.

Nevertheless one important aspect has not been mentioned, neither in the entry nor in comments.

It is fear.

Your rule is brilliantly suitable for the situation when you enjoy THE PROCESS.
But many times when you ask what you want, you understand that you want THE RESULT.
And the process does not inspire you absolutely.

You want peace all over the world but don’t know where to start.
You want to have awesome relationships but have to do lots of preparations for them to occur.
I hope you get the idea.

Repetitive attempts to inspire youself by further results work not better in these situations than motivation.
And such inspiration looks like motivation, because you don’t really want to do what you are going to do – you rather want final results.

In these situations motivation seems a better decision. If it is not what inspiration is.


Steven October 29, 2010 at 8:53 am

Good distinction. I like to think of inspiration as a certain type of motivation – one that comes from within. The way you use motivation seems to refer to the external kind.

“Motivation is external, inspiration is internal” —Simon Lawry

Exactly my thoughts.

Both are useful. Motivation can be good for mundane or tedious tasks. “Oh if I finish cleaning the house I can reward myself with some dessert.” That’s external motivation.

Inspiration on the other hand is good for more creative and problem-solving tasks. If I want to create something meaningful or artistic I want to get inspired and “in the zone.” I want the fire to burn from inside me so that I can become one with what I am doing.

Great post!


arina nikitina October 31, 2010 at 6:55 am

Hey Jonathan! Everything profound, personal, funny, serious and scientific has been mentioned here. Yes, I believe motivation and inspiration should both be seen positively, as two complimenting factors that pushes us to achieving what we want.

But more importantly, both must first be deeply rooted on one’s core values to nothing contradicting happens along the pursuit. Motivation pushes most times, even if it’s not as pleasant as most people want them to be. Inspiration, on the other hand, are some kinda gentle, loving reminders that we should keep on going. That’s why they’re mostly pleasant. :)

As much as I loved reading the whole post, all the comments here have been great eye-openers as well. You did inspire many to share their thoughts on the issue; as you have motivated others positively as well. Now that’s what I call “good thing!”

Keep it up, Jon! Always a good read, your posts.



Ken October 31, 2010 at 7:18 am

Great post! I think we all know there is a difference between motivation and inspiration. With that being said the difference is different to each individual. When I read this post it made me sit back and think what the difference between the two means to me as a person.


Usama November 10, 2010 at 11:57 am

Very awe inspiring post and not at all motivating. Its splendid. Good work.


Rayme November 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Nicely put. I am constantly realigning.


beds November 15, 2010 at 7:17 pm

This is true. For the past couple of months, in my online business-I had to motivate myself to do something. I figured inspiration was a totally different thing. I changed my business, and Im more productive than ever, coincidence, I dont think so.


Peter G. James Sinclair November 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Jonathan

Great article…..but at the end of the day – inspiration? motivation?

We need to dare ourselves to get the blood pumping and the action happening….

So here’s a dare to all of us…

‘I dare you to dare yourself to do something daring, be something daring, live something daring, try something daring. To dare to be different. To dare to be outrageous. To dare to fail. To dare to win. To dare to try. To dare to be a champion. To dare to inspire others. To dare to just simply have a go. To dare to go against the flow.’



T in the IE December 12, 2013 at 11:38 am

I dare say; I like your attitude; it has good energy!

Inwardsun January 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Jonathan,

I found your post through Life’s Great Escape ( and the title just stuck out because…I had posted the same one myself! :) In my case it was my coach that gave me his interpretation of the terms to me (in Swedish) and I couldn’t help but try to translate it and post it on my blog (

“Motivation is when you GRASP an idea and decide to pursue it. Inspiration is when the idea GRASPS YOU and that, is what will guide you through”

Does that resonate with the message in your post? I think so.

I’ll stop by here again! :)




eatenpie December 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm

What if what you really want is illogical… I mean really physically impossible or imaginary?


eatenpie December 6, 2011 at 11:58 pm

What if what you really want is and end from a means that is not a product of inspiration, or if it is illogical, entirely physically impossible, or imaginary?


Sheng August 13, 2012 at 12:42 am

Hi Jonathan,

I came across your article because a lot of stuff about inspiration defines it as motivation to achieving your work but it doesn’t feel right for me. But your article makes a lot of sense. I’m currently in a position where I’m torn between staying on a job that provides all my material needs and wants versus pursuing a passion that is too risky to take. I just realized I am the only one who can define my own happiness. I guess, the universe is helping me with my options by throwing me this wonderful post. Thank you, it helped me clear my mind.

Sheng (from the Philippines)


Rodney December 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I’ve read that motivation is when you get an idea, formulate a plan and follow it through to where the plan takes you. Inspiration is when an idea gets you and takes you to where you were always meant to be in the first place. I agree that inspiration is being “in spirit.” In fact, I believe we have moved from the Information Age to the Age of the Spirit. The spirit we follow will help us sort through the millions of bits of information bombarding us daily and “inspire” us to take the right path. Good blog. Enjoyed reading it.


Rodney December 1, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I’ve read that motivation is when you get an idea, formulate a plan and follow it through to where the plan takes you. Inspiration is when an idea gets you and takes you to where you were always meant to be in the first place. I agree that inspiration is being “in spirit.” In fact, I believe we have moved from the Information Age to the Age of the Spirit. The spirit we follow will help us sort through the millions of bits of information bombarding us daily and “inspire” us to take the right path. Good blog. Enjoyed reading it.


Shyra February 24, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Jonathan, that’s a very interesting thought you presented. We are always confused between being “motivated” and being “inspired”. However, for me a little bit of both is important. You have to be truly inspired to give your soul to achieve something, but at the same time you need the correct motivation that keeps you going when things are particularly not in your favor.


Chris March 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm

A good read.
I was looking up stuff on inspiration vs irritation that kick off the process of motivation into action.
To me inspiration and irritation are the positive and negative aspects, motivation is just a neutral process resultant of either.

What irks me personally is how very few things inspire me into motivation, and why more things rather irritate me into motivation…but sigh still a means to an end.


Gregg March 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Great idea for an article, well done, inspiration and motivation are similar in frequency, a lot like safe and secure, you can wipe yourself up into an inspired state, almost the same way to motivate yourself, but with music that makes you feel good, soothing yourself, moving from negative to positive thoughts. I find biking or snowboarding works for me, and just thinking about them can get me to a more inspired place.


Motivational Short Stories for Chiildren in Education May 6, 2013 at 1:51 am

Wow, your post is inspiring me.


tyokara July 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

Thanks a lot Jonathan, now I’ve know d difference. I love to be inspired. I can now recognise when I’m inspired nd wht motivates me


hizers July 12, 2013 at 7:36 pm

motivator said.. the sentence motivation is take away from motivation and words motivasion and action is combine together become motivation.that’s all.


Sedona Cole July 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I think there are profound truths to your post. I especially agree that inspiration comes from a completely different place than motivation. There is a subtle yet huge difference. I have to thank the folks at (It stands for Free Thinking Renegades, which pretty much says it all!). They are an online coaching site that will knock your socks off, getting you ‘internally’ driven (inspired) and dancing to the beet of your own drum. I recommend them to anyone wanting to get a little ‘closer’ to their own authenticity. I really love that this post said ‘its not about doing something’. It’s about ‘being something’ that creates the results. Great insight! God bless :)


FitOldDog August 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

Nice article, which I linked on my blog today. Interesting thoughts. I guess inspiration is one form of motivation? I still wonder about the semantics.


T in the IE December 12, 2013 at 11:09 am

Hi. While your opinions stir up some thinking; I am not in agreement with your viewpoint on motivation. “Inspiration” I agree is of the spirit and is the creative hub if ideas. “Motivation” however is the DRIVING FORCE that makes ideas a reality and thus comes from ENERGY. If you lack motivation – chances are you are lacking in energy; some symptoms are: boredom, tiredness, listlessness, a feeling of uselessness, even anxiety (this is why you link motivation as “something you should be doing”(note: if you think you are in a state of depression then see someone who can help you). But all motivation boils right down to ENERGY. If you have inspiration but lack motivation; that is a strong indication that something ELSE is going on in your life (or not going on) whereas you are not feeling complete, and your body is “out of balance” with itself and in turn is not in harmony with your mind & spirit. KICK-START your body first with good exercise and proper diet (everyone basically knows what that is -they just don’t want to do it) and get that blood flowing and the toxins out! If you are already physically fit or/and you STILL LACK ENERGY; chances are it has to do with the spiritual side of your life; or more specifically; what your relationship with God is. And if you think your relationship with God is OK, then what about your relationship (if you want one) with Jesus Christ? If this statement “angers” you in some way; then you have already been called to address it either by your own mind, heart, or by God (pick one or all). If you welcome the thought of knowing Jesus Christ – then follow your heart. Most people don’t like Christ because He deals with all sin; what they don’t know is that He also TAKES IT AWAY.
In any case; get off your duff & do something! – Following your heart is a good start (BTW: GOD; Creator of heaven & earth made that too).
Sincerely submitted with best regards.


Hemu July 9, 2014 at 12:21 am

great stuff, and i also like Natalie’s reply, “Motivation is the push. Inspiration is the pull.”


Nikki Nadeau November 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I love everything about this post. It addresses a topic I had never even considered and adds another tool to my arsenal of ways to perceive my journey. It’s easy to get pulled into thinking that motivation is the useful worldly one when, if we dig deep, we see that quality work only comes from the inspiration. Thank you so much for your words. Well composed post, also.
with love, Nikki


sangam kr January 23, 2015 at 6:06 am

To me it is inspiration that motivates people and the inspiration comes from with in. One may get inspired through a small instance like viewing an event, reading a book, hearing good music, through small tiny creatures, a great speech and virtually anything. Inspiration comes from within and motivate people to higher aspirations, pulls them out of depression and pensive mood.


Akinyele May 21, 2015 at 2:42 am

Well after reading the post and the comments, am glad to be here. I want to say here that Motivation is power driven. It is the locomotive aspect of a being having the energy to move towards a goal. And I want to say categorically here that it’s also spirtitual because it deals with the spirit and soul part of a human being. An inspired being needs motivation to move towards the direction of a. Goal in order to achieve it. Inspiration does not only mean the core value of a being, inspiration also comes from motivation. There are lots of motivational books inspiring people to maximize their potential beause there are lot of people who are. Inspired but not motivated to take the necessary actions in goal achievement. Inspiration itself could be negtive if the message of influence is from a negative source likewise motivation. In conclusion, the two are interwoven, they go together, not necessarily when one is off track or not alignment with what is supposed to be. Inspiration nd Motivation are both spiritual because its all about igniting the power within, the direction of purpose determines the end result.


Gajendra May 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Would it not be appropriate to say that inspiration is linked to the inner peace and happiness whereas motivation is linked to an expected success? If it is so then I think an inspiration for one could be a motivation for someone else and vice versa.


Kaia Tingley August 19, 2015 at 8:22 am

The yin and yang of getting things done – inspiration (arising from within) and motivation (extrinsically creating movement from without). Both important concepts in getting things done.

Have you seen Dan Pink’s TED talk on the topic ( where science proves that extrinsic motivation works well in a narrow band of circumstances, but by and large, it serves to negatively impact performance results. Corporations are now getting in line with science and allowing for more Autonomy, Mastery & Purpose to drive results. Social science is steering business practice for a better corporate operating system.

I am currently working on a book about how to be inspired, motivated and moving to enact change around healthy habits, when you’re in the groove of being tied to a desk or a computer all of your waking hours. This post was very helpful in clarifying some definitions, and applications of the two different drivers to change. Especially the part about continual realignment.

Thank you so much!


Bhasha September 6, 2015 at 1:10 am

Awesome post. The difference between the two is very eloquently put out. Now I got the real meaning of inspiration that comes from within!


nera October 17, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Jonathan, is it possible to make a child to be inspired (lets say to learn a new language)?


Priya November 8, 2015 at 9:33 pm

This is just what I needed. Thanks so much for writing this article. I have been at a junciton thinking about my work, and purpose and what I want to do…and why. And seeing the difference between my inspiration and motivation is going to bring a great deal of clarity to this.


Loriann March 21, 2016 at 8:15 am

These are wonderful insights of one of my fav topics.
Here’s one more:
Seek Motivation for short term goals, and Inspiration for long term goals. Loriann


Joshua Cintron December 14, 2016 at 6:02 pm

The two work hand in hand because the obligatory life society is forced to lead requires men and women to become motivated in hopes of embarking on the journey that inspires us to live. Thanks for sharing, and when time permits, check out what we’re doing over at SayspireQuotes,

Take care,


Qendresa December 31, 2016 at 11:31 am

Awsome post! Thank you!


Michael Erus June 12, 2017 at 6:49 pm

I hope, you don’t mind about the irrelevant pessimistic(motivation) vs. optimistic(inspiration) view about these… but I do believe motivation will even make things more lighter and more easier even if it is not a very acceptable or enduring idea/feeling to think of. Inspiration is just a potential aspect inside of you and it wouldn’t change dynamically but will still be more refined in you otherwise. And yet, inspiration could be so sufficient that when you relately connect the question on “how are you inspired?” to “how will you be motivated?”, it will form a bridge from being inspired to being feeling both as well, making it more effective in creating a brand new you out of your previous self. This is not all about yourself only but you must also be open to let others motivate you in anyway they can. So whenever you feel already inspired about doing/showing something, do share it with a friend, co-employee or relative who will motivate you in something you haven’t done before while being greatly inspired as well… That’s all, thank you!


Adûnâi November 12, 2017 at 11:51 pm

“Well, you can’t. Inspiration isn’t something you get, it comes from within, it comes from your core.”

Actually, I think, it’s the other way around. Inspiration is easy to get from an external source. Sure, that particular song or exactly that play of sun’s rays on the clouds have to correspond to something within you, but it’s still external.

On the other hand, I believe there is another source, the innermost thing that I would call the Will. The Will is more like an internal god that one could use to push themselves in an uncomfortable, joyless way.

But people usually use external stimuli to accomplish things, not an internal strength. For example, Americans imagined themselves the Old Testament Jews to commit the genocide against Indians.

At this moment, I actually wonder whether this inner Will, the simplistic “motivation” is even possible. For me, imagining myself someone else is quite humiliating after all. Even though it might be effective.


Theron Stone October 27, 2010 at 4:18 am

Ahhhhh…there it is. While you see motivation as something that requires trying, I see it as something that occurs, like inspiration. The difference being the energy that surrounds one or the other.

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.” – Abraham Maslow

In that quote, the “what one can be” is inspiration, and the “one must be” is motivation. Inspiration = expansion, motivation = contraction; gathering/applying; gazing/focusing; potential/probability.

Great stuff Jonathan.


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