The late Zig Ziglar once said, “Of course motivation is not permanent, but then, neither is bathing. But it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

But rather than just revisit what Zig said, I’d like to add to it by challenging that it’s not just motivation that gets us going. Before you can become motivated, you must first be inspired.

These are two different things in my mind. Inspiration comes first, and this is what really keeps us going. Motivation is simply the day-to-day grind to keep moving towards your goal. Without a bit of inspiration here and there to really compound your belief in yourself, your motivation will eventually fizzle out.

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Maybe you see a movie and decide you want to be more like one of the characters, so you set out to change certain behaviors. Inspiration strikes first in the form of the emotions you experience during the movie.

Motivation comes next in the benefits these changes will have on your life. Maybe you read a book that tells a rags to riches story. The inspiration comes in the form of the story: the belief that you too can create wealth for yourself just like the person you read about. The motivation comes when you start to realize what you will be able to do with your new found wealth.

The big difference here is that the emotion of feeling inspired to make a change is incredibly powerful. It can be a true catalyst to a big change in a person’s life, but inspiration has a finite lifespan before it needs to turn into tangible goals and “motivation” to keep things going.

Humans are Irrational and Emotional Beings

We as humans are irrational and emotional beings. Unless we have something that is truly emotionally striking driving us forward, the day-to-day motivation to get better eventually dies out, and a lack of motivation can easily set in.

While I’m a huge believer in things like goal setting, to-do lists, and organization, these things are not emotional in any way. They’ll only keep you motivated enough to keep spinning your wheels.

This is why to stay truly motivated to do great things, you must stay “inspired.” You must seek out those things in your life that bring you deep emotional inspiration to be a better person.

For me, reading success stories of personal change from people like Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferris really bring me the belief that big time changes are possible. Studying the philosophy of great successes in history, like Walt Disney, Bruce Lee, and Dale Carnegie, and the way they went about not just their business but their daily lives is incredibly eye-opening.

Going to conferences and meeting people who have been radically successful doing things not too far from what I’m doing, and then finding out they were once younger, less-equipped, and less networked than me (true story), can really make a person believe.

These things are just a few examples of my inspiration, but that’s just me. Inspiration is different for everyone.

Find Your Inspiration

To really keep improving in your own life, you must find your own inspirations. For example:

  • Maybe it’s a mentor you can look up to and learn from
  • Maybe it’s certain authors you would like to emulate
  • Maybe it’s an incredible success story you know you could do as well
  • Maybe it’s an event or group of people that you find incredibly inspiring
  • Or maybe it’s family or friends that drive you to continue to be better

Whatever that inspiration is, this is what you really need to stay truly driven and motivated. Find it. Keep it in your heart. And there is no doubt you will continue to improve each and every day of your life.

It’s good to have a library of motivational boosters to move us along: Thirteen Tricks to Motivate Yourself

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