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Differences between motivation and inspiration

People often come up with terms of motivation and inspiration throughout the day. And many of them begin to use these terms with each other as if they were synonymous. However, they are not – in fact, they have two completely different meanings.

Motivation is derived from Latin „Motus“. Which means that it moves. And motivation is just that, something that drives us to achieve our goal or any other action. In other words, it is the driving force that pushes us forward.

To be motivated you need to have a motive

This motive can be rooted in anything. You might want to do something for your own good. Or for someone else’s, or you may have a completely different motive for something. that possibilities are limitless and highly dependent on individual cases, but the core idea remains the same.

On the other hand, there is an inspiration. This term carries a lot of ambivalence and can be used to describe a few things that are not quite alike. Therefore, I will only focus on one, the most common meaning of the term inspiration, which is an artistic inspiration.

I will briefly recognize psychological inspiration, but, since this is not a very common topic in psychology research, I will mainly focus on artistic inspiration and inspiration in general. Inspiration is generally regarded as something that happens in our mind, on the „inner“. Looking at the origin of the term can be useful here as well. „Inspired“ means „to breath in“ in Latin, and pretty accurately describes what the inspiration is. In other words, it’s an „inner awakening“. A sudden burst of creativity and productivity triggered by something.

It can now be easier to see that these are actually two completely different terms. The main difference stems from the fact that motivation is something „outside“. The goal we strive for, and the strength that pushes us toward that goal. While inspiration is something „inside“, a sudden range of creativity and productivity.

What is the motivation?

Motivation has been extensively explored in psychology (as opposed to inspiration), and there are currently several theories that describe it in different ways. The most commonly mentioned theory is the incentive theory. Incentive theory distinguishes between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is what draws us to new challenges, which makes us feel like we are gaining new knowledge and understanding how capable we are, as well as exploring our boundaries.

In other words, intrinsic motivation is what pushes humanity to develop civilizations and thrive in any area of science. External motivation is second to none, it is the kind of motivation we do for a particular outcome. If I know I’m going to get some money if I do something. I feel an outward motivation that drives me to do something since I’m not just doing it.
Motivation is the driving force that pushes us toward our goal. The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is based on where the roots of our motivation for a particular action are.
It is fundamentally „external“ because motives are in the outside world, not in the psyche.


What is the inspiration?

As we mentioned above, the term inspiration has a lot of ambiguity. It can have different meanings depending on the context – it can be artistic, creative, psychologically … the list goes on. Therefore, I will focus on the most common and famous form of inspiration, artistically inspired. There are many poems that have been written since ancient time about their writers who found inspiration in their museum. Who was usually a woman but can be anything that inspires them and allows them to make art freely. Basically, something we see in a certain way can evoke a sense of ecstatic creativity and the will to create something new. These triggers are unique to every person and can be practically anything, as long as they somehow carry a deeper meaning that resonates well with the person’s own mentality.

Inspiration is a sudden span of creativity and productivity driven by either our own personality or something that resonated well with our personality.
In different areas, inspiration can carry different meanings, so there are artistic, psychological, creative, etc. It is fundamentally „inside“, closely related to one’s own personality and mentality.


Difference between motivation and inspiration

1.   Where they come from

Motivation comes from external factors. These can be external, such as rewards or social status. Or internal, such as our stubbornness to solve the difficult problems we see as a challenge and push ourselves beyond our borders. Inspiration, however, comes from the person. Therefore, motivation is closely related to external factors, whereas inspiration is based on internal factors.

2.   How to trigger

This is closely related to the previous point. Because motivation is related to external factors. The things that will provoke it are those external factors. A person needs both motivation and inspiration to fully succeed.


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