Inspiration vs Self Motivation

I’ve recently seen a video on Instagram, where a young man stated, “the difference between being motivated and being inspired is that when you’re motivated you want to do something for the moment”. When you’re inspired you are ignited to continue to do whatever it is that fuels you. For example:  An individual may workout hard in the spring, to show off their body in the summer. While another individual may exercise everyday because they were inspired to live a healthy lifestyle. One scenario you have your end-goal, while the other you continue to do. This concept had me thinking about what is the true definition of self-motivation and inspiration and are they the same?

According to  the mind tools content team Self-Motivation Quiz – Goal Setting Tools from the definition of self motivation “is the force that keeps pushing us to go on – it is our internal drive to achieve, produce, develop, and keep moving forward. When you think you are ready to quit something, or you just don’t know how to start, your self-motivation is what pushes you to go on.” (N.A, 2021, para 5). Our dreams and our goals are what motivate us, but what inspires us? Does inspiration cause us to go the extra mile? Does self-motivation and inspiration even correlate? Is it possible to be self-motivated and not inspired? Or vice versa. Is it possible to be both?

The word inspiration has numerous definitions and is interpreted differently from individuals and organizations. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, inspiration is defined as an “inspiring agent or influence”.  One becomes inspired and/or influenced by an experience, person, place, or thing. The simplest and purest form of life can cause an individual to be inspired to move mountains.

As an employer, your job is to get your employees engaged and motivated to complete their job. Once an individual feels empowered, they become self-motivated. The question one may be asking is how do you make them feel empowered?  Easy, set clear expectations, give constructive feedback, communicate the vision of the organization and most importantly one must inspire them.

According to Psychologist Todd Tharsh and Andrew J. Elliot inspiration has three (3) main qualities.  Evocation, transcendence, and approach motivation. Inspiration is evoked without any notice, it just happens. Inspiration is transcendent “of our more animalistic and self-serving concerns and limitations.” It is a moment where the impossible can become possible, it’s almost a feeling or vision in your mind. Approach motivation is where an individual makes the feeling or vision become a reality. Can inspiration be measured? According to Tharsh and Elliot it can be, they have stated the following statements below. 

Using a rating system from 1-7, (where 1 is either never or not at all and 7 is very often or very deeply/strongly) calculate where an individual is on the inspiration scale.

  1. I experience inspiration.
  2. Something I encounter or experience inspires me. 
  3. I am inspired to do something. 
  4. I feel inspired. 

How many times have you experienced one of these feelings? How long did the feelings last for and how often do you feel it?

Ideally there is no fixed time on how long inspiration can last for. It can last as little as 30 seconds or even till our last breath. It depends on the individual and the fire that is driving them.

As for self-motivation, there is a 5-step process according to 

  1. Define your objective. 
  2. Declare your intentions publicly. 
  3. Take small steps at first.
  4. Think about your goals to the point of obsession.
  5. Catch negative thinking and crush it on the spot.

Thinking back on a task or goals you have completed, have you followed these steps unintentionally? When you worked on your task and/or goal, did you ever feel defeated when you hit a roadblock? Or if it was taking a little longer than expected to complete?  If you did, it’s natural and it happens, but you must keep going and remember why you’re doing it. The key ingredient in self-motivation is the “why” it is what drives you to reach your goal. 

Tony Robbins gives 10 self-motivation techniques for reaching your goals:

  1. Create empowering beliefs.
  2. Learn better time management strategies. 
  3. Create a massive action plan. 
  4. Look to the success of others.
  5. Use the power of music.
  6. Schedule outdoor time.
  7. Banish multi-tasking.
  8. Get moving.
  9. Visualize your self-motivation. See yourself doing your objective.
  10. Focus on gratitude.

Inspiration can catch you off guard, but it fuels your creativity. While self-motivation is based on the drive you have within yourself to achieve your goals and dreams. Furthermore, you cannot forget the key part to the drive, which is the why.

 Does self-motivation and inspiration correlate? Yes, they do. Are they the same, some may say yes others no. It all depends on who you are asking and their personal perspective. One thing is for sure, self-motivation and inspiration have a common denomination, and that common denominator is YOU!


(N.A, 2021, para 5)

Merriam-Webster. Retrieved March 7, 2021,

Inspiration vs Self Motivation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top