Are you inspired or motivated?

I got a book out from the library about motivation recently, thinking it might help me get my arse into gear with my writing and generally sorting my life out.

Weirdly, it was surprisingly unmotivating.

Out of the whole book there were only 6 pages that jumped out at me. (I know it was 6 pages because I photocopied them.)

But sometimes it’s worth wading through a whole book to read just one outstanding page, sentence or quote, because often that’s all you need to start doing or seeing things in a refreshingly new way.

This is what jumped out at me and whacked me round the chops:

Inspiration isn’t the same as motivation.

Sorry if you were hoping for something more earth-shattering but for a long time (my entire life), I have been confusing the two. The book (which I have since brilliantly returned to the library without noting down the title) changed this in an instant. Here’s why:

Inspiration is when you’re fired up about something. You have that spine-tingling, gut-fizzing I-REALLY-REEEEALLY-want-to-do-this feeling. You’re going to conquer the world and it feels fantastic!

Sadly, this usually doesn’t last long. Your fizz fizzles out. And your world domination/bestselling novel/brilliant business idea is postponed. Possibly forever.

Motivation on the other hand, is a commitment to a goal.


That’s a bit boring isn’t it? Hold a sec, it’s more sexy than it sounds. Because it’s the difference between wishing something would happen and making something happen. Between dreaming and doing. It’s a deep, overriding desire that urges you to get off your arse and take action. Even when the chips are down, you’re flat on your face, and you’re wondering what the heck possessed you to think you could ever do this.

In a nutshell, inspiration feels good. Motivation is about working towards something, even when you don’t feel like it.

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”
~ Pearl S. Buck, author

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
~ William Butler Yeats, poet (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923)

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