Hey, everyone! It’s been a busy two weeks so far. I can hardly believe February is half over.

I hope you are feeling good about your wellness efforts so far. If you’re taking part, you should be proud of yourself already. I’m not a big fan of the participation ribbon idea, but I am a HUGE fan of recognizing and affirming effort. So I’ll be the first one to say thanks for your hard work. Whatever wellness goal we are working toward, I believe the effort we invest results in growth.

In my view, making an effort (or trying hard, or pushing yourself – call it what you will) changes us on the inside. It shifts the source of our motivation from outside ourselves, to inside ourselves. Making an effort and seeing results, teaches us “a thing or two” about who we are. My vision for us is that we become people who are motivated from within.

To illustrate this, consider the opposite: external rewards only work as long as they are available. For example, if we like to be recognized, and that recognition makes us feel so good, and it motivates us to try harder… what happens when people don’t stop to recognize our effort. If that would cause us to lose motivation and maybe quit, then our motivation was external. I’m not saying all external motivation is bad, but I am saying it will not sustain us.

The challenge here is to consciously, deliberately develop internal motivators – thoughts, feelings, beliefs inside of us – which are much more within our control. Spoiler Alert: internal motivators are usually not shiny and glitzy and eye-catching (interestingly, all of these things are like a parade, and you know how I feel about parades…). Internal motivators are often plain and simple and unassuming. Perhaps we don’t notice them because they don’t jump in our face. I suspect they quietly accumulate over time if we let them, so our internal motivators can become stronger with time. But they aren’t fancy; they are functional. They are thoughts like, “I am going to finish this set (of exercises, for example).” “I finished that task the other day – I can do it again.” They highlight for us our achievements, and bring them into view. They are the raw data that simply points out that if I completed a project (a workout, a wellness objective) once, I can probably do it again.

If I’m honest, I can’t finish this blog without saying that there are a few external things which can motivate me, at times. For example, a bit of competition will often do it. Or trash-talking from someone who has earned my respect… [Dave…]

I challenge you to build your portfolio of motivation. The more you can develop your own internal motivators, the less you will need to rely on the external ones. That will make you more self-directed. It will put you in a better position boost your wellness, and boost your accomplishments. Go for it!