If you are moved to make changes in your life it won’t be long before the idea of ‘motivation’ crops up.

It’s often believed that one’s level of motivation is what decides success or failure, and that in order to make positive change happen you must first “motivate yourself”. Consequently, the inability to reach personal goals is mistakenly attributed to ‘lack of motivation’ (in the same way that a lack of oil would cause a car engine would seize up).

This is an example of dodgy thinking, or what solution-focused thinkers call “the attempted solution becoming part of the problem”.

Motivation is “a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way”. When the reasons have to do with ideas and energy coming from something or someone else, this is known as ‘extrinsic’ motivation.


Psychologists talk about ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ motivation. It is extrinsic (to act in order to earn a reward or avoid punishment) I am concerned with here. If you are intrinsically motivated you do something because it is personally rewarding; you are performing the activity for its own sake and not because there’s an external reward. Your ‘motivator’ comes from within.

Coaching, rewards, recognition, advice, approval… These are all external rewards. Motivating yourself like this sounds great until you find out how much effort it takes to just keep it alive. You think you SHOULD be doing something, rather than acting in line with your vision, values or beliefs.

When you want to act in a certain way because you feel moved to do it. It is effortless, so maybe ‘inspiration’ is a more apt expression than ‘motivation’.

This can push you towards things which are superficial and false; they are not part of the ‘authentic you’; things you are “supposed” to be doing, rather than things you really want to do. A driver to act wisely, rather than a passion pulling you towards your dream.

So, motivation is about things that you think you should or must do, rather than things you are driven to do from inside. Motivation is external, inspiration is internal. Inspiration is about being beckoned to act because you are aligned with your thoughts, feelings and vision about what is right for you.

There will be more about Inspiration tomorrow, watch this space.

More tomorrow.