Tools for the Long Haul: Motivation and Inspiration

Why explore motivation and inspiration. We need both to keep moving toward values that are important to us in living a fulfilling and meaningful life. They help us reach our Sweet Spot often used interchangeably there is a difference? Motivation is derived from the word “motive,” which is to have a reason to do something. Being clear about the reason connected to values for engaging in behaviors will help you stay motivated. Motivation is like a carrot in front of you. Inspiration fuels something deep within us. “Inspire” is to “infuse with excitement.” It comes from Latin meaning to breathe or blow into. Inspired is a process of being mentally stimulated to take action on something. Inspiration feels like a flame burning inside, while motivation feels like a force pulling you forward from the outside to reach to something important. 

We need both inspiration and motivation for the long haul. Receiving daily affirmations delivered to your inbox can be inspiring and or motivational. Maybe you have favorite songs, poems, movies, or public figures. Find a way to tap into your energy to get inspired and motivated. 


Abraham Maslow’s expanded his hierarchy of needs to reaching beyond self-actualization to include helping others become self-actualized. Helping others become self-actualization is an experience of transcendence. Maybe you don’t feel self-actualized then consider partnering with someone. Partnering with others people to work toward common goals can be both motivational and inspirational. When looking to partner with someone look for supportiveness, good-listening skills and if they have allies. You both need to have your own team of allies. If you see yourself as self-actualized, you can still partner with someone to bring inspiration as the motivation to life.  

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself with a treat if this is what keeps your candle burning bright. Rewards can be a monthly or weekly massage, pedicure, hike, or other pleasure. Rewards can be small for small projects and larger for larger projects. Remember when you were a kid and your homework was handed back to you with a star or sticker? It’s that easy. Put a star on your calendar when you have accomplished on important task. Make a reward plan. Toot your own horn with you partner or ally. A little bragging with a confidant is exciting. Remember to set clear goals with deadlines and ideas of rewards once you reach your goal on your deadline. Make it fun.

Keep a Journal

Keeping a journal dedicated to the topic of your journey is another way to stay motivated. Journaling is not only a wonderful therapeutic tool, it is also a useful business tool. Journaling allows for reflection and focus. Kay Adams, the founder of the TW (Therapeutic Writing) Institute, provides five easy tips for journaling organized into the acronym WRITE: 

What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.

Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today…” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”

Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. Follow the pen/keyboard. If you get stuck or run out of juice, close your eyes and re-center yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.

Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. Write the start time and the projected end time at the top of the page. You may use the timer on your phone or a personal digital assistant (PDA) to keep track. 

Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice…” or “I’m aware of…” or “I feel…” Note any action steps to take.

Try journaling as if you are a witness to observing your behavior. A third party telling the story about what they saw you do changes the experience of journaling as it triggers a different part of your memory brain.

Incomplete Tasks

Have you heard of the Zeigarnik Effect? A Russian psychologist, Bluma Zeigarnik, was fascinated with waiters who could remember long and complicated food orders. Once the waiters completed serving the food, they forgot the order. Researching this memory phenomenon, Zeigarnik determined that at the core of the effect is the discomfort experienced with incompleteness. Once complete, it is forgotten. The Zeigarnik Effect is like an itch screaming to be scratched, drawing you to finish an incomplete project. How can the Zeigarnik Effect help you stay motivated? Leave something incomplete to finish later. Give it a try. 

In conclusion motivation and inspiration are ongoing and multifaceted practiced behaviors that help us stay motivated and inspired for the long haul.   

About the Author: 

Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career after completing a successful 17-year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. She is the author of Sweet Spot, to be released in the fall. The above post is an excerpt from her book, Sweet Spot ( You can find free resources be clicking Sweet Spot ( One of her greatest joys is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. Step by step she walks with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor specializing in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. She loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family. To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page.