Motivation and inspiration are often found together, uttered in the same sentence about trying to achieve something.
Motivation is that drive that you have to accomplish something, to achieve something to change something. Often it is related to positive things – weight loss, self improvement, education, lifestyle change. It’s that little voice in the back of your head, telling you you can do it. You can resist the cake, you can run an extra mile, you can study instead of watching another episode on Netflix. It will be worth it in the end.
Inspiration is what, you could argue, makes you want to achieve that thing in the first place. Inspiration is less tangible, more fluid, less easily defined. It can come from anywhere – your friends, strangers, nature, books, art, music, even from deep within yourself. Inspiration is that little spark that makes you excited about being alive. It makes you want to create something, and that something can be art or music, but it can also be a better life for yourself, more peace, more energy.
You need inspiration to get you going and to keep you going. You need motivation to put your goals into practice. We all get a spark of inspiration from time to time, but how do you keep yourself motivated and inspired? How do you turn that spark into a fire? Here are a few practical tips:
- Write it down. What sparked the inspiration in the first place? Where did it come from? How did it make you feel? Writing things down cements and reiterates them in your mind making them more tangible and less easy to forget. This means that you’re more likely to keep working at it and less likely to let it slip away like another wishful thought.
- Break it down into smaller manageable steps. Yes, it’s good to have a clear visualization of the big picture, the final goal – that’s good for fueling your inspiration. But your motivation needs small, manageable tasks, and a continuous sense of accomplishment. So break that big final goal down into monthly, weekly, daily, even hourly targets if you need them. Set specific, goals and tasks and break them down as much as you need so that the big goal feels manageable and achievable.
- Give yourself a pat on the back when you do achieve those specific tasks. There is a reason why ticking an item off a list is so satisfying – it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you want to do more. It motivates you. So reward yourself in any way that works for you every time you accomplish a stepping stone on your path to your bigger goal. Have a bath, a sweet treat, some extra time on the couch watching your fave TV show and tell yourself you did a good job.
- Keep the inspiration going. Go back to what you wrote about what inspired you in the first place. Remind yourself of the spark that started the fire in your belly. Seek out experiences similar to that. Read about it, watch documentaries, get out in nature. Surround yourself with that which makes you want to keep going – your inspiration.
- Speak to people trying to achieve the same thing. Find a support group, a special interest group or start one yourself. Those further along in the journey will have their experience and advice to share with you. Let them inspire you. Those further behind you on the journey will want to hear what you have to say – that makes you feel positive about what you have achieved and further cements your commitment and the idea in your head. Motivating others is a great motivator for ourselves.
- Tell people what you’re trying to achieve. Once you have been inspired to complete that painting or get your health in check start telling your friends and family about it. The encouragement you get from your loved ones will fuel your inspiration and the accountability that comes from knowing that others know your plan will motivate you.
Regardless of what your goal is – whether it’s writing a book, learning a new language, making more friends or if it’s health-related – you won’t get anywhere without inspiration and motivation. Understand how the 2 work together and how you can use and fuel them to make your dreams happen. Your inspiration is there inside you – you just have to tap into it. And your motivation is there with it – you just have to know how to keep it alive.