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Inspired v. Motivated Action: 3 Ways to Know the Difference & Why It Matters

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

How to live your best life and follow your dreams

Part 5, Final Installment of the Joyful Life Series

I've been an "action oriented" person as long as I can remember. Looking back, many of my actions were driven by a need to achieve. A need to acquire, satisfy or succeed. Expending energy for money, material things, love, recognition or approval from others. The mind and ego at work saying, "if this happens, then I'll be whole" or "this problem will be solved." All examples of 'Motivated Action'.

What's come to light for me, slowly over time is recognizing moments of inspiration that have nothing to do with being driven by an external need or influence. Instead, these inspirations come from within; an internal knowing that says, "I just need to pursue this." I call these 'Inspired Action'.

Sometimes, it's unclear whether a desire comes from motivation or pure inspiration. Acknowledging the two can be related with inspiration creating the motivation to take action, here are some helpful ways to gauge the difference.

3 Ways to Know the Difference

1. How the Idea Comes to You: Motivated Actions are usually fueled by an external source. An outside influence that's compelling you to do something, even if you are not 100% excited to do it. For example, deciding to pursue a job primarily for the money or the prestige that you envision you will experience, despite not really caring about the work. The ideas for Motivated Action almost always come from responding to something external or seeking reward.

Inspired Actions, on the other hand, come from within. The willingness is natural and innate. Often the ideas for Inspired Action seem to come out of nowhere; they come naturally and appear with ease. Do you recall a moment when you were simply sitting quietly or driving to work, and an idea just hit you? Was the urge to take action simply irresistible because it just 'felt right'? These were likely Inspired Action.

2. How You Feel: A difference can also be found in how the idea driving the action makes you feel, especially how it makes you feel over time.

Motivated Actions can feel good at the beginning. The satisfaction of meeting a need or solving a problem. Over time, because the driver is coming from an outside force it's more of a push factor. Motivated Actions can eventually drain your energy, and you lose the enthusiasm that you once held at the start.

Inspired Actions, because they are intrinsic, have more of a pull or driving force from within. Sticking with the action, despite encountering challenges or obstacles, fills you up. It not only taps into the depths of your ‘energy well’ to keep going, but it fills it.

Still unsure? Here's a helpful exercise: Quiet your mind and scan your body. Close your eyes and take notice of how your body feels beginning at the top of your head, down to your toes. Do you feel tightness or heaviness anywhere? Do you feel soft, relaxed and at ease? The over-arching feeling you sense about the idea from the body scan, will lead you to whether it's born from inspiration or motivation.

3. The Experience of the 'Doing': Because Motivated Actions are driven by that push factor, the tasks involved can feel like pushing a boulder up hill. It can even get to the point that the 'doing' is difficult to endure. The thing that's keeping you going is getting to the outcome or reaching the destination.

Conversely, Inspired Actions are naturally rewarding, and the tasks involved are generally rewarding in and of themselves. The desire that comes from within drives you to proactively give your best effort with each task. The joy comes from the doing and not solely from the outcome.

Ask yourself, "Why do I want to do this?" If you have a laundry list of mostly logical and practical reasons, it's likely Motivated Action. If your answer leans into that it just makes you feel good or brings you joy, it's likely Inspired Action. If you also ask yourself, "Would I be doing this if time, money and other people's opinion were not a factor?", and the answer is YES, it's Inspired.

Why It Matters

Inspired Actions have an unparalleled way of bringing a richness of meaning and purpose to our lives. They bring us immense joy, which typically affects those around us in positive ways.

Inspired Actions move us towards our dreams in a manner that tends to be more beneficial and effective v. deliberately planning out every detail to accomplish a goal. We also tend to stick with Inspired Actions for the long-haul because the fulfillment comes from the 'doing' and not the destination.

Speaking from personal experience, when I started to pursue my Inspired Actions, including leaving a fruitful 28-year career in corporate to become a PSYCH-K® Practitioner and Wellness Coach, my life experiences began to unfold in amazing ways that I could never imagine. The relationships I experience became richer and the joy I feel on a daily basis increased ten-fold.

Try to start noticing if your actions come from pure motivation or inspiration from within. Do your best to follow the inspired ones and see how your life grows by making these your focus.

Have you followed your Inspired Actions? Inspire others by sharing your experiences in the comments. Have inspiration, but feeling hesitant to take action? E-mail or call us at 415-319-7667 to schedule a complimentary consultation to see if PSYCH-K® can help.


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