Inspiration vs. Motivation
Are you making this common-but-critical mistake when trying to make life-change? Inspiration is always better than motivation!
When you think of the word “motivation,” what words or concepts pop into your head? I’ll tell you what I think of: “short term personal gain.” Now allow me to ask what you think of when you see the word “inspiration?” Hopefully you have a picture of a group working hand in hand to accomplish a goal that will have a lasting impact. Let me give you a couple of examples…
When I was in school, my motivation for studying for tests was simply to not fail. I was looking to put in the minimum amount of effort to get a decent grade so I could move on in my education, get out, find a job, and start my life! One year, however, there was a course in seminary I just couldn’t seem to do well in – Biblical History. While I had always loved my theology courses, I had never particularly cared for history. To me, it was just a collection of dates and names and places to memorize. But when I talked to my professor about how I could raise my grade, he took the time to ask me why I was struggling. When I sheepishly told him I didn’t see the value in the course (and, implicitly, in what he had devoted his life to), he changed the way I look at history forever. He inspired me. It wasn’t a rousing speech with slowly escalating motivational music pounding away behind him, but it was just as impactful. That professor inspired me by helping me see that history is really God’s way of revealing Himself to His people, and theology is revealed through that history. That changed me from thinking, “How can I just be done with this course?” (motivation) to “How can I see my part in this story?” (inspiration). I’d love to tell you that I pulled my grade up to an “A+,” but that was simply not an option, but I did finish with a solid “B” and a forever-changed outlook on history.
Here’s another way to think about it – those extra pounds that so many of us have around the mid-section! Needing to buy a bigger pant-size may be a temporary motivation, but when we stop and think about how being healthier will give us a longer life and more opportunity to pour into our family and influence those around us, we find our inspiration.
How does this impact our daily lives? What difference does finding your inspiration bring when trying to make real, lasting life change? People who have found their inspiration are drastically more likely to stick with pursuing their goals over the long-haul than people who are just motivated by a temporary outcome.
You need to find your “why?” WHY do I need to spend more time with my family? WHY do I desire a new career and how can it impact my future? WHY do I need to develop healthier relationship habits? WHY do I want to grow deeper in my faith?
Author Simon Sinek, in his fantastic book, “Start with Why,” says this: “Motivation can never be enough. Motivation is internal. It focuses on the moment and what’s in it (for now). Inspiration is a challenge and a call to be part of something bigger. (Those) that focus on motivation will never outlast those that focus on inspiration.”
Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to go hit the treadmill. I have four kids I need to inspire, and about 10 more pounds to go…