This is a guest article contributed by Kevin Brenden from Westwind Recovery.
Motivation and inspiration are two words that you often hear in recovery. This is because finding out what makes you happy and drives you to meet your goals helps you enjoy life without drugs or alcohol.
At first glance, it may seem as though these two words mean the same thing.
However, they have two very different meanings that can both be used to help your ability to heal from addiction.
As you put together your personal tool kit for battling addiction, here is what you need to know about using motivation and inspiration to keep you heading in the right direction.
View Motivation as a Short-Term Stimulator
The easiest way to look at it is to see that motivation is that temporary kick in the seat of your pants that you get when you feel the urgent need to make a change.
For example, a person might feel motivated to lose weight after watching a news story about heart disease. This then prompts you to go out and join a gym, stock up on new workout gear, and go full-on health nut for a week.
The problem with going on motivation alone is that it is hard to sustain. Eventually, you get bored or frustrated when you don’t immediately see the results that you are after.
Think of Inspiration as Helping You Define Your Dreams
Inspiration lasts longer. This is that little song in your heart that makes you feel a sense of hope and joy when you look towards the future.
To illustrate the difference, think about how you feel when you hear someone tell their story of how they recovered from addiction and haven’t used a drug in many years.
That same sense of hope that you can overcome adversity is the emotional response to being inspired. Once inspiration is ignited in your heart, it becomes easier to maintain your stamina for longer.
Learn How to Make the Two Work Together
It is important to be clear that motivation and inspiration both have a place in helping you through the different stages of recovery, and they can be a powerful force when you know how to use them together.
Begin by looking at inspiration as the vision that helps you build your motivation. For instance, you may feel inspired to learn how to play an instrument after watching a concert.
Yet, sitting around feeling awesome about the idea will get you nowhere. Motivation is what happens when you decide to sign up for lessons and have a performance to work toward.
When it comes to your recovery, there are many reasons why you may be inspired to stay sober.
For instance, you might have had a health scare or lost a friend to drugs, and your inspiration is to be there when your kids graduate high school.
Alternatively, you may have been inspired to go to treatment when you realized that continuing on the path you were on would lead to nowhere.
Now, you can continue to ride that inspiration and take it to new levels by using motivation to drive you to reach new levels on your journey.
For example, being inspired by a desire to live longer can motivate you to go for a run instead of stopping by the bar after work.
Surround Yourself with Inspiring People
Inspiration may last longer than motivation, but it can still be drained by negative influences. For example, just think about how it feels when you have a great idea, but someone begins to chip away at your plans by pointing out all of the flaws.
While criticism can be a good thing, you must find people who can put a positive spin on ways that you can improve your life. During treatment, you learned how to let go of the negative influences that bring you down.
Now, you get the opportunity to begin assembling a new network of friends that have the ability to inspire you to reach new heights. Your sober living community is one place where you can begin to meet inspiring people who all value sobriety.
Whether you meet a new friend who can teach you surfing or you discover that you love learning how to cook for the group, each day gives you a new chance to spend time with others who fill your heart with inspiration.
Tap into What Truly Drives Your Behavior
After years of dealing with addiction, it is common to feel as though you have lost your inspiration and have no idea how to get it back.
The great news is that inspiring events happen every day, and it is possible to begin building inspiration with one small thing until it turns into enough to give you momentum to keep going.
Spend some time thinking about the things that bring you joy. Talk to people who have been through recovery and have stories to share about how life gets better.
Watch motivational videos or read short stories about people triumphing over adversity. It also helps to think back to what you enjoyed before drugs or alcohol took over.
Deciding to pick up the paintbrush or start hiking again can spark inspiration that leads you down an exciting new path in life.
Set Goals to Turn Inspiration into Accomplishments
Inspiration can easily turn into daydreaming. While dreaming about the future is always fine for relaxing, it takes action to make your dreams come true.
Setting goals is an effective way to transform inspiration into actions that lead to tangible rewards. For example, you may feel inspired to get into better shape. Setting a goal to run in the next 5K gives you a realistic way to capitalize on your inspiration.
Alternatively, you may be inspired to hit your first year of sobriety or embark upon a new career.
You can use this inspiration to work with your sober mentor to outline a plan for meeting each week’s goal of sobriety until you hit your first year, or you can set small goals for finding a job such as making a resume and going on an interview.
Maintain Motivation through Celebrating Achievements
Motivation may be short-lived, but you can learn how to keep it going by making a big deal out of reaching your goals.
The nice thing about setting smaller goals is that they are more achievable, and the victories come sooner.
Outline a few simple rewards that you can use to celebrate when you reach a new milestone.
Whether you go out for ice cream with your new best friend or you stick a gold star on your calendar, marking your achievement inspires you to stay motivated to keep striving toward your dreams.
Know How to Reignite Inspiration When It Wanes
Inspiration may be known for lasting longer than motivation, but it is still necessary to nurture your spirit to keep it going.
There are many things that can interfere with your inspiration. Mental health issues such as depression can cause you to lose sight of what matters to your heart.
Alternatively, you may let a negative comment temporarily erase your dreams. When you find yourself lacking inspiration, it is important to check in with yourself to figure out what is going on.
In some cases, you may have simply outgrown a dream, or you may have gotten frustrated when things didn’t go your way. Waning inspiration is a strong sign that it is time to make a change.
Waning inspiration is a strong sign that it is time to make a change.
Small changes in your life often lead to new experiences that help you to rekindle your inspiration. For instance, changing your routine to include a walk along the shoreline each morning may renew your interest in swimming.
Alternatively, getting a pet may inspire you to re-enroll in that veterinary program that you were in before addiction took a grip in your life.
Finding new sources of joy feeds your spirit with the little seeds that eventually grow into life-changing sources of inspiration.
Live a Life That Is an Inspiration to Others
In recovery, you will find that your life slowly takes on new meaning as experiences shape your existence.
While the early days are hard, you will eventually be able to identify how much better things are now that you are committed to staying sober.
This is why many people in sober living often describe their finest moment as being when they realized that their story could serve as inspiration for newcomers to the group.
When you share your highs and lows with someone who is new to recovery, you reinforce the benefits that living an inspired life has brought to your world.
In turn, you become even more inspired to continue down the right path in your recovery.
Learning the difference between motivation and inspiration allows you to take the best of both and combine them to create a lifestyle that complements sobriety.
By choosing to honor your commitment to sobriety by making each moment one that drives you closer to your goal, you will be able to look back at your early days of recovery with renewed inspiration to continue building upon what you have accomplished.
About The Author:
Kevin is a graduate of California State University, Channel Islands with a BA in Communication. Shortly after, it became clear to him that he needed to change the direction in which his life was moving. He has found his passion in helping people become the best versions of themselves and is now working in conjunction with Westwind Recovery.