Motivation vs. Willpower


Imagine being in a position where unexpected events have taken place and made your path tougher, giving you the need of an extra “push” to keep pursuing your dreams. Most of us have already been there, and we likely will be again in the future. I want to address two important psychological mindsets, which more often than not give us the necessary strength to keep going. More importantly, I want to explain the difference between them, how each one works and how we should approach them based on specific events. Motivation and willpower are two completely different mental states which, surprisingly, can bring us to the same end result that we look for. However, they work and act differently in our heads.

Considering that over 50 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee, I can assume you are likely a coffee drinker, or have drunk coffee at some point in your life. The feeling of energy that this beverage can give us for our daily activities is amazing, which has caused some of us coffee drinkers to almost “depend” on this beverage on a daily basis, hence the phrase “don’t speak to me until I’ve had my coffee.”  However, if we were to stop drinking coffee, we might be moody for a couple days and eventually get over the need to consume this beverage, meaning, it is not something we need to live (although, some of you look like you do).

Similarly as humans, we love food. Mexican, Asian, American, Czechoslovakian, you name it … we just love to eat it, and constantly look forward to the time of day when we get to stuff our faces with a plate of food. The feeling of pounding an entire pizza all by yourself (on cheat days) is truly satisfying, sometimes even necessary. But, what would happen if we were  hungry and there wasn’t  any food around us? Our most basic instincts would make us search for food, no matter how late it is, or how far we need to move in order to put some in our stomachs.

If you’ve managed to read the article up to this point, you’re probably confused and wondering why the hell I’m mentioning food and coffee. Simply put, these two products are much like motivation and willpower, metaphorically speaking.

You see, motivation is the act of feeling motivated, where we get a sudden rush of energy and positive mood, which drives us to do things we want and often help us achieve our goals. But similar to coffee, after a given period of time, this feeling suddenly fades and eventually we are found in a situation where we need more motivation (or coffee) in order to keep going forward. Simply put, these are short-term resolutions.

Meanwhile, willpower gives us determination in order to fulfill our daily activities, and is developed through a specific “need,” for example, the need to succeed at a given task. When we are hungry and we need to eat, our bodies have a physical need to fulfill, making us do anything that is possible to put some food in our stomachs, or in terms of willpower, achieve what is necessary for us to survive/succeed. Comparatively, this is a long-term resolution, and one that you can rely on to stay focused on your goals.

Living in a world where intelligence and information is at our phone’s reach, we can easily watch motivational videos all day long, giving us an extra push to fulfill our needs. However, this feeling will suddenly fade and you’ll soon realize that it’s something you can’t always rely on. On the other hand, willpower takes time and self-awareness to develop, but eventually, this mindset is the one that will give you the hunger to succeed in life, turning all your obstacles into mere stepping-stones. Simply put, if you truly want to succeed in life, you should develop enough willpower to keep going, even when all odds are against you.

Remember: coffee will give you energy to walk, but hunger will make you move mountains.

Are you hungry?


Roberto Abedrabbo can be reached at

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