Motivation: We’re Doing it Wrong

Motivation: We're Doing it Wrong

Motivation in its simplest form is the desire to do something. It’s the magnetic force that draws the tires to meet the proverbial road, and propel into action.

Oftentimes, we view (we being the collective you + me + society) motivation as an external force. We see it as something outside of ourselves that kicks us into gear to achieve whatever it is that we’ve set out to achieve. And this is precisely where and how we’re doing it wrong.

This is how most of us, most of the time, view motivation:


But when we put the microscope to motivation, we will see that we have the equation backwards. Motivation comes from being in alignment with our goals, and knowing the actions to achieve them. Motivation, therefore is a lag measure (the result of something), not a lead measure (the cause of something). This is how motivation truly plays out in life:


When we flip the script on motivation, it becomes a result of understanding what we’re trying to achieve and how to achieve it. The motivation is the output of our input. Because it is the output, it means that we can control the input and therefore control our level of motivation.

Where we’ve gotten confused is we’ve made motivation synonymous with inspiration, which are two very different things. Inspiration IS the external force that moves us to action. But inspiration is temporary and fleeting. We can use it in moments of lethargy or inaction, and I often do. As an example, if I’m having a morning where I’m struggling to get moving and attack my day, I will watch an Eric Thomas video to change my position or my attitude toward my day. This inspiration is the fleeting moment that I need to get me in gear. But this is NOT motivation. If I am regularly finding myself needing inspiration to get going, it’s an issue with motivation. It means that either

  1. I don’t have a clear vision of my goals OR
  2. I don’t have an understanding of how I’m going to achieve those goals.

Inspiration is a spark. Motivation is the fire. Inspiration is fleeting. Motivation is everlasting. Inspiration is an input. Motivation is an output.

If you’re finding yourself in a period of life where you feel directionless, unmotivated, or uninterested, don’t look for inspiration to fix the situation. Instead, evaluate your goals, map out a path to achieve them, and then watch as the motivation is the intrinsic result of being in alignment with where you want to go.

Then, and only then, are we truly motivated.

Published by Adam Griffin

Adam is an entrepreneur & writer. He is the former founder of Bodeefit, and is the author of Redwood: A Guide to Leading a Remarkable Life. He lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife and kids.