When Inspiration and Motivation Becomes an Excuse

by | Aug 19, 2018 | General, Work

I once asked an artist friend of mine how he can produce the necessary output for the advocacy campaigns we launch. He creates amazing art and submits within 24 hours. I run operations for a digital marketing agency in Davao, and so far, I’ve always had problems trying to get creative ideas on time. I always assumed they were waiting for inspiration. And he said,

“Real artists don’t wait for inspiration. They know where to find their inspiration so they can create exactly what they need to.”

What he said really stuck in my head. And I realized that the concept doesn’t just apply to artists. What artists call inspiration, non creatives call motivation.

And while inspiration and motivation are supposedly tools to help us complete a task, the lack of it has allowed us the convenience of complacency and the excuse not to finish, or even start a difficult thing.

  is Motivation and Inspiration?

Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

Inspiration is “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.”

How many times have we said or heard someone say:

But I don’t have the motivation…

I’m still waiting for my inspiration…

I lack the motivation…

But if we look at where successful people get their motivation, it’s never something that just came to them. They reach in deep, figure it out and stick to it.

I think sometimes I guess you see records, say you want to get there and use that as motivation. In a way, it’s kind of cool if there is a possibility to rewrite history and be up there with the greats of Olympic history.

— Michael Phelps

“Life can not just be about solving one miserable problem after another, that can’t be the only thing. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity.”

— Elon Musk

Michael Phelps used his Olympic dreams as his motivation while Elon Musk sees being part of humanity as his. However, motivation doesn’t always have to be as huge as joining the Olympics or humanity. Motivation can come from so many other mundane things.

“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, ‘It’s in the script.’ If he says, ‘But what’s my motivation?, ‘ I say, ‘Your salary.’ “

— Alfred Hitchcock

“Vanity is great motivation, to be fair.”

— Matthew McConaughey

No motivation is too small or stupid, as long as it gets the job done. Even if it’s just the gratifying feeling of seeing all your laundry done.

If extrinsic motivation is so bad, why are we still trying to please our moms?

And, why are there still leadership articles that say you have to praise in public and scold in private?

Admittedly, there are times when extrinsic motivation becomes superficial, like the social media tendency to appear happy and rich just to get more likes. However, we’re humans and it’s normal to crave appreciation. Whether it’s through praises, money, or that long-awaited promotion, it’s still a motivation that’s easy to conjure when we “lack the motivation.”

Motivation is optional

If there’s anyone that needs to be mentioned in an article about motivation, it’s Zig Ziglar, and here’s my favorite quote from him about motivation:

I am convinced after more than 50 years in the field of motivation that anyone who wants to learn to look at life and/or their circumstances in a positive light can do so.

There are so many tasks we’d rather not do if we had an option. The problem is, these are vital tasks that can lead us to success. And the thing is, we can’t wait to feel like doing them before we do them, because if that’s the case, we never will.

All we need to do is change our perspective.

We do not need motivation to get the job done. What we need is to convince ourselves that we’re motivated.

Emotions are great, and we need to be honest about our emotions in order to learn more about ourselves. But emotions have no place when you’re trying to make a powerpoint presentation, do your accounting, or clean your house.

As we grow older, we develop emotional maturity and learn that there are certain responsibilities that outweigh our feelings. At a certain point in our lives, we cannot sound like a 5 year old and say, “but I don’t feel like it!”

Not feeling motivated to wake up and go to work? Do it anyway. Our feelings and our actions don’t always have to match.

And besides, when you think about it, it’s funny to feel emotional over replying to e-mails.

This article was originally posted in Medium.

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