In my most recent book on reading a over 100 books in a year, I discussed some ideas that helped me accomplish that task. Since publishing that short work, I've been thinking even more about inspiration, motivation, and their interdependence on each other.
I can honestly say that I don't believe in the traditional stance that psychology has taken by dividing motivation into two forms: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. On the same note, I don't subscribe to the language acquisition theories of integrative and instrumental motivation.
What this comes down to is an ever broadening application of complexity theory and understanding of adaptive systems. I believe it is impossible to separate the mind and body, the body and world, and now a person's internal motivation from the people, things, and world around them.
As a short example of what I mean, here is something similar to how I've described my motivation in the past whenever intrinsic/extrinsic motivation has been brought up.
"Hey Kyle, how bout you? You intrinsically or extrinsically motivated?"
"Uh, intrinsically? Well, both I guess, depends on how you mean it."
"Well do extrinsic factors motivate you?"
"Sure, I've got plenty of role models I look up to that I try to emulate and surpass. My dad has always been a major benchmark for me when setting goals. He was big and strong, so I want to be bigger and stronger. He read a lot of books, so I want to read more books. My twin got great grades in school, so I wanted to be smarter."
"So you just want to beat everything other people do around you?"
"Kind of, not really. I really hate not being as good at something as someone else. But, I also just want to be the best possible version of myself. Really, I don't care that much if I beat anyone, just that I figure out my own limitations. I always want to be better. Does it count as intrinsic still if I use others as milestones?"
And there's the rub. How do you separate the inspiration from "other" from the motivation of "self". I don't believe you can. They seem to be completely interconnected in my view. Others inspire me and show me what is possible and through those social interactions I begin to feel intrinsic "self" motivation. I think, "I could do that." Then I go off and see if I can.
However, it doesn't end there. Once I am inspired/motivated to pursue a goal, I constantly wind up going back to others for renewed vigor and energy. For example, I am highly motivated to read and exercise regularly, but there are times when I feel like I've done everything I can. When this happens, I hit the internet and find examples of others who have done more. This sense of competition simultaneously with both myself and others keeps me going in many cases.
The Relevant Factors to My Motivations
Now, I'm going to elaborate on a number of factors that keep me personally motivated. Many of them involve both sides of the intrinsic/extrinsic coin. My motivation is always being adjusted by my own wants and desires and by what I see others doing and getting around me.
At the end of everything, I find that I can't separate and pinpoint my motivation from everything else that happens around me. It comes down to a mix of what I imagine to be genetic, environmental, experiential, and cultural factors.
While this is a pretty long post, there is still an entire concept that I have only just begun to explore within the realm of motivation - identity. I am seeing motivation more and more as the result of figuring out my real identity and how it conflicts with my imagined identity. This is a topic I am still new to and won't go into detail on. Nevertheless, I am seeing most of what I do as a consequence of trying to close the gap between an ideal self and my real self.
This unexplored area doesn't discount what I've written above, it only adds to the fact that motivation is not likely to be explained with one or two causal factors. It certainly isn't static, although it may be stable, and will continue to wax and wane for me depending on a multitude of contexts.