This exact dilemma led to a recent discussion about what to do: how to get unstuck. In the course of contemplating the question, another arose. Which comes first...inspiration or motivation? Do you need to be motived to find inspiration? Or do you need inspiration in order to be motived into action?
There's definitely a fine line between the two yet there is a difference. Inspiration is the idea behind something. While motivation is the reason for the action, desire or need.
I believe the answer is very much subjective, varying from person to person. For me, motivation is within my control, while inspiration is more happenstance. Allow me to elaborate.
I know my motivators. I know what motivates me everyday to accomplish tasks. I can chose to use my motivators to move me into action even when I feel like I'm lacking the motivation to move. Hmmm...you may have to read that sentence again.
In other words, by being aware of my motivators, I can choose to use them or not.
Let's take an example. I am motivated to work out every morning. This certainly does not mean that every morning I pop up out of bed full of energy, eager to get my heart rate up. Yet I'm very aware of what motivates me to lace up my running shoes or grab my swim cap and goggles. I know that cardio gives me energy. So when I'm tired, which is frequent these days with an 8 month old, the way I get over the hump is by getting my heart rate up. I know that by moving, I will actually gain the energy needed to get me through my day. I also know that through exercise, I have more patience and will be more optimistic: two key factors in processing stress. By being aware of the benefits of exercise, I am motivated to use it as a way to start my day. The mornings I'd rather stay in bed, I think about all that I must face the rest of the day and how I will achieve them. It also doesn't hurt that on my run days I have extra motivation to get my son down for his morning nap. He has come accustom to napping in the baby jogger. And trust me, we both are better off when he gets a good nap.
Inspiration comes in many different forms. The way in which I gain inspiration, or the idea behind something, may vary from task to task. For example, the inspiration for this blog post came from a discussion with a friend. The motivation came from my commitment to post weekly. The inspiration to write my book came from the numerous people who expressed an interest in my story and later told me how hearing it helped them to overcome an obstacle or pursue a dream. My motivation to actually write it came from wanting to make a difference, touching lives I have not yet met. The inspiration to complete my first Ironman race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run) came from knowing others who had achieved the same goal. My motivation to take it on without ever completing a triathlon, came from committing to raise enough money to fund an after school program to fight childhood obesity.
Different things may inspire, or give me ideas, to take on different tasks. Typically I don't plan or control the things that inspire me. I'm just open to seeing them when they cross my path. Once I have the inspiration, I must then find the motivation to take action. Inspiration is just the idea behind something. I may feel inspired yet if I lack the motivation to act upon it, I will lack results.
So which comes first for you? What motivates you? Where do you find inspiration?