Last week I followed a talk by Deepak Chopra, addressing aspiring writers to support them in their writing process.
Especially one passage resonated deeply with me, when he was talking about the difference between writing from a state of motivation, or writing from a state of inspiration. Many days after, I was still thinking about his words and the impact this distinction has on everything we do, and how rewarding and successful it’ll turn out.
Especially when we’re engaged in a long-term project, a difficult mission, a task that takes us far outside of our comfort zone and requires loads of courage, we should ask ourselves at one point this important question:
Sometimes, it’s not easy to even spot the difference. Mainly because we’re not used to ask these kinds of questions. We simply execute what is asked from us, or what “makes sense”.
Most of us only start to reflect about this question, when things go off track. When we lack motivation, when we lack joy, when we lack a sense of fulfilment and success. Then, suddenly this question seems omnipresent: What is really driving me?
This, of course, is my personal take on motivation, but in my experience and observation, motivation is mainly driven by external factors: I’m motivated to reach a certain project goal, I’m motivated to learn a specific skill, I’m motivated to do something because I hope it’ll make me feel better, fast.
Motivation works great with short term goals. You’re planning your next vacation to Italy, so you’re highly motivated to take Italian classes over the next couple of months. You want to lose those two kilos that joined your waistline during your last vacation, so you feel motivated to step up your sports routine for some weeks.
In other words, motivation kicks in, when we can expect quick results and instant gratification.
Inspiration comes in a different outfit. Inspiration, as I feel and know it, is an internal driver. It’s not related to a certain quick result or instant gratification but in close connection to my long-term vision for myself and for what I want to accomplish in this world and life. Inspiration is my driver for committing to long-term projects, for overcoming rejection and failure, and for creating macro-solutions.
In other words, whenever it’s not about losing those two after-vacation-kilos, but about making a long-lasting change in your health and wellbeing, you’ll need more than motivation, you’ll need inspiration. You’ll need a vision of how you want to live your life on the long-run. You’ll need to have clarity about your personal priorities for yourself, not just for the next weeks to come, but for the next 5, 10, 15 years.
In business, whenever it’s not about hitting a certain project goal by the end of the year, but about working towards your vision of what is really meaningful and important in your professional life, then inspiration, not motivation is, what’ll get you there.
Is it a question of motivation, of hitting a short term goal? If it’s a yes and you’d like some support, then check out my blog with tips how to self- motivate.
Or do you maybe struggle around accomplishing a long-term goal? Overcoming setbacks or rejections? Then it’s time time to turn inwards and dig deeper.
The first step to tap into our inspiration is to ask the one, key question: WHY are you doing, what you’re doing? It’s the same question we should ask ourselves, no matter if we want to self-motivate, or re-connect to our inspiration.
The only difference might be in your answers. For short term goals, an external result might do the trick to get you started and motivated. And the answer to your motivational Why-Question might be: fitting in your jeans again, getting the promotion, or passing this language test.
The answers to your Why-Questions when it comes to inspiration, will be for sure in another realm. And they’ll be for sure connected to your Life Essentials. Those life priorities you’d identified to determine what really matters in your relationships, in your health & wellbeing, in your professional journey and what brings you joy in your leisure time.
So if you struggle to come up with answers to your inspirational Why-Questions, it’s time to go back to the basics. It’s time to look at your holistic life design, once again, and dive into the different areas of your life. Enquire what is essential to you, enquire what defines a meaningful and fulfilling work life, love life and personal relationship with yourself. Being grounded in the knowing of these Life Essentials will make it easy to re-connect to inspiration over and over again, and to stay on track with your long-term goals. In other words, inspiration comes from living your authentic truth and values, and aligning your external actions towards them.
The second step towards acting and living inspired, is a daily practice. It’s about committing to living this alignment every single day. Because it’s not enough to gain clarity about your Life Essentials once, so you can answer your Why-Question in an exemplary manner, and forget about it ten minutes later. It’s rather about regularly checking in and correcting course, if needed.
Things that help me personally to “live inspired” on a long term basis, are:
So what about you? What’s the driver of this topic or issue, you’re struggling or procrastinating with? Motivation or inspiration? Knowing your answer is the precondition for taking the next best action and moving forward.