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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Sometimes when I write an article to post to Daily Ramblings, I just begin writing and then I try to find a quote or some other theme for the post. Most days I have lots of content to get out to you, but other days I am absolutely dumbfounded about what I want to write about to keep it fresh.

Motivation is personal. What motivates one person may not motivate another. Some motivations are driven by a drive to succeed, while others are driven by avoiding something. Some exercise because they want to look and feel good. Others exercise to avoid disease. See how this works?

Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of us. There are a slew of articles about which is more effective. Hands down, intrinsic motivation wins. Intrinsic motivation is hard to cultivate, however. Why do you think there is such a huge market for weight loss supplements, weight loss surgery, and weight loss diets? Motivating yourself to do something that is beneficial for you is tough. Having someone yell or scream at you to get off your butt and workout is easier, because it comes from the outside. You don’t need to fight yourself; you have someone else to provide your motivation. Extrinsic motivation is less effective because if you remove that outside influence, there is nothing driving you to exercise.

How do you cultivate internal motivation? Well, it begins with picking something that you really want to do. Then, it’s about supporting yourself by rewarding yourself early on in the habit-building process. Do you know what got me to the gym initially? Coffee. I would always treat myself to a Starbucks coffee after a workout. I know, I know. Not the healthiest option, but it worked. You see internal motivation to exercise increases once you begin to see and feel the benefits. After a time, you are internally motivated to exercise because you want to feel and look better and better. Your brain makes the connection. Exercise = feel good and look good.

This same process can be used for anything, but you need to find what that thing is. Maybe it’s starting a blog like this one, or maybe you want to learn another language, or learn to play an instrument, or you want to begin the practice of journaling or taking time every evening to plan out your next day. The list is endless, and it is all up to you.

When I began my self-improvement journey many years ago, I decided to look at a few different areas. I wanted to exercise more; I wanted to read more, and I wanted to write more. You might be saying right now, come on. You were in the Army for 20 years. Why is exercise so hard for you? Because there is a huge difference between someone telling you to exercise every day and you telling yourself to exercise every day. We return, yet again, to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Exercising in the Army is much easier to do because it is the first thing you do every day and it is early. You wake up, you head out to first formation, and you exercise. When you have to motivate yourself, schedule it, and do it, it is a totally different story.

Do you want to do something that is hard to motivate yourself to do? Here are a few things you can do to start building that intrinsic motivation.

  • Start very small
  • Do that task the same time everyday
  • Reward yourself each time you do it

When I started my exercising routine a few years back, I started very small. I did a few pushups, did a few sit-ups, and walked for 10 minutes every day. That was it. Once I had some momentum I began looking at going to a gym. I visited some gyms in my area and began looking at what I wanted to accomplish. I also wanted to pick an economical option that wouldn’t break the bank.

Once I got my membership, I was motivated to go to the gym because I was paying for it! Each day I got to the gym I rewarded myself with a little treat, whether it was a coffee or a bag of gummy bears, I was rewarding myself with something immediately after my workout. I realize eating gummy bears or having a Starbucks coffee are not the healthiest options, but it worked for me. You’ll have to find something to reward yourself with that means something to you.

Here are some example rewards you could give yourself to build your intrinsic motivation:

  • A goodie (candy, chips, coffee, ice cream)
  • Video Game time
  • A Netflix movie or an episode of your favorite series (You could also use Amazon or Vudu).
  • Surf the Web for 30 minutes

The rewards you give yourself or the way you minimize the activity are totally up to you. The trick or hack is to make the task so easy that it is hard not to do it. You reinforce this simple habit with a reward.

Maybe you have a problem with deciding what to do. Do a web search for things to do to improve your health, improve your writing, reduce stress, or achieve more focus. Do a search for sources that can help you learn the thing(s) you want to learn. Do a web search for ways to improve productivity, or come up with ideas for your morning or evening ritual. The information you have access to is endless, now that we have the Internet.

There are endless courses, YouTube videos, blogs, and other information sources available to you for free or a minimal amount. I just started a writing course on Skill Success for $19 US. This bundle is 5 separate courses on establishing writing habits, planning your writing, and a bunch of other great content. I found this site on Flipboard, which I look at every day for my news and interesting articles. I try to take and finish 8-10 courses a year. This is me, however. You may be motivated or driven to do other things. Whatever that “thing” is, you’ll find someone that is already doing it and teaching others to do it.

As always, my week will be attacking my goals on multiple fronts. I will be working on my book, exercising every day, taking some classes, doing my daily reading, doing my daily meditations and spiritual reading, and getting in some fun time with Netflix, Amazon, or Vudu, and maybe even getting in some game time on the XBOX.

I hope all of you have a terrific week!

Until next time…

Dave