the difference between inspiration & motivation


Today I’d like to share a story that helps illustrate the difference between motivation and inspiration when taking action in our lives.

This is a tale I share in Life with Intention Online and during speaking engagements to help illustrate the difference between these two approaches.

Once you hear the story, you’ll be able to identify your motivation vs. inspiration in your own life.

Here are a two other posts you might find helpful when putting this idea into action:

How to set intentions.

How to set goals intentionally.


PSHave you been motivated by a “carrot” recently? If so, feel free to share what your carrot is, and what value you think might inspire your actions in a more peaceful way.

PPS – I haven’t found any ‘official’ proof that shepherds did¬†actually use carrots, but the story beautifully illustrates these contrasting motivations.


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  1. Love the video Jess. The best thing I can equate this to for myself is weight loss. I’ll get really motivated by an event where I know I’ll see someone from my past to lose weight. Then when it’s over, I go back to lazy habits and eating unhealthfully. However, if I figure out a way to live the intention of nourishing myself with healthy foods then I would always be ready for an event to pop up and when I looked great it would motivate me to just keep on keeping on.

    Now I haven’t figured out how to make myself think this way yet. But I’ll keep trying. ūüôā

    1. Jess Lively

      So true. I struggled with that outcome in my body/weight for nine years, too. It can be quite a difficult one to shift mindsets in.

      If you are interested, I cover how to do this at length in Life with Intention Online ( The class is designed to help you do just that! : )

  2. Sage Grayson

    Nice video! You make a really clear distinction, especially because it’s easy to get these two ideas confused. Like Maureen, I’m motivated by weight loss for a specific thing such as fitting into a dress. But my inspiration that actually helps me lose weight is when I think about spending a long healthy life with my husband–much more valuable!

    1. Jess Lively

      Wonderful! I love that you found your values that are more consistent and long lasting than a fleeting dress size. Bravo!

  3. Missy Graves

    Thanks for sharing! The carrot story reminds me of the Happiness Advantage, which I’m reading through right now. Success does not equal happiness, but often happiness can bring about success. Or something like that. ūüėČ

    1. Jess Lively

      That is great to hear! I use the term joy to describe the feeling that we are seeking that is not a byproduct of an outcome (happiness, I use as the positive emotions we feel when something good happens, and unhappiness when something or some outcome that we don’t want happens). Joy is experienced when we embody our deepest values, feel gratitude, and are in the present moment. : ) When we live from the values/intention/joy/present state the ‘success’ in achievements and outcomes flows more naturally… less forcefully.

      1. Missy Graves

        Ohhhhh, love this. And hence why I love your site. And you!! Thank you!

        1. Jess Lively

          For sure!

          PS – If you like this kind of work, you might enjoy Life with Intention Online – we go over this in great detail and implement it together. I’ll be relaunching it in a few months. : )

          1. Missy Graves

            I’ve been wanting to sign up since you launched it! Time and money have been holding me back. I was able to get on your first Intention Setting online class, and I thought it was very beneficial. I’ll be watching for the relaunch. Hopefully, the timing will be right for me this time.

          2. Jess Lively

            Awesome! I hope the timing feels right for you once it goes live again. It is getting a new format and a lot more bonuses (there is so much content that it’s better to make it a month long course than just a quick week + two classes) once I have wrapped up the hotel lobby project. : )

  4. Aileen

    I absolutely love this, it’s definitely something that’s important to think about and truly clarify!

  5. Christy Campbell

    I love this! Never thought of it this way, but it makes sense. (And I love the analogy!) I find that sometimes when I’m creating content, I’m chasing after “fame”–wanting more likes, comments, shares, etc. But my intention with building my business in the first place was to create something of valuable to enable and empower others, and therefore my content needs to be created with that same intention, not with a “how much will people like this” but instead with a “how much value will people receive from this” approach. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. YES! This is exactly the shift that we can make to really find our joy and fulfillment first, before we take action and get the resulting outcomes. Bravo!

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