It doesn’t happen all of the time, but we certainly know when it hits us, right? Inspiration is that sudden rush; that “ah ha moment” when a force brings clarity to a puzzle that you have been pondering for the longest time. Inspiration can come in many forms such as hearing a slogan at just the right time, with just the right music, when it feels like that moment was designed to play out only for you. Or you may have witnessed an act of kindness and now feel compelled to do something nice as well. Even a good movie can set off a spark in your brain that changes the path of your day… or life for that matter.

Are they the same? If dissected long enough, I’d say no. Inspiration tends to be an outside energy that you didn’t expect or anticipate. Motivation is in it for the relative long haul… assuming you are strong enough to keep it at the forefront of your mind. Neither is truly long-lasting, both diminish over time, and both take work to maintain. They are though, very necessary though to move you ahead in your sport, career, life, that they are worth studying. Without them both, you will surely find yourself struggling to get to that next rung on the ladder. You need both to succeed.

Many recent opinions on how to best direct you life focus on understanding your strengths and then capitalizing on them. Books such as Strengthsfinder by Tom Rath dedicate entire curriculums to educating yourself on what you do best and casting all else aside. I believe in this theory, yet a strange thing occurs when an energetic person does something that they are good at – they get bored easily! Your motivational goal may be in place but without the inspirational spark, the mind tends to leave the selected path in search of other challenges.

How does one find inspiration? You can look for it but initially inspiration finds you. Like many other things in life, the road unfolds before you just when you least expected it to. Be ready for inspiration at any time so that when it hits, you can diagnose the scene immediately. Where were you? What lead you to that place in time? What factors provoked you to have a shift in opinion or feeling? Pay attention to inspiration so that you can go back and find it again. This is where motivation kicks in. Motivation is the drive to do something with your inspiration. So plan out a new goal. Recreate the inspirational setting. Lock it in all together and stay focused!

Found it? Count yourself lucky because most people don’t get inspired often and when they do, they aren’t conscious enough to act on that impulse. If you are doing something that you are good at, something that matters to you, AND you just got further inspired, then you can be confident that you are on the right track. Now get to work!