Sorry but negative motivation can work, my Dad had a triple bypass when he was in his 50s and that's a bullet I plan to dodge.
I also believe the biggest obstacle to doing things is making the decision to do it, once you do you'll be glad you did.
Strangely the key to my motivation, at least at the moment, is not having goals... I haven't had a cycling goal since the last organized ride I did, the 2010 Challenge Tour... At the moment my motivation is just to do some form of exercise most days of the week. Usually running, swimming or cycling but also something like push-ups/sit-ups etc at home if nothing else for the day... Occassionally I even bash some dust off my punching bag hanging in the carport! The dog occassionally even gets a walk.. For me, having no goal and just trying to build exercise into my weekly routine works for me at the moment. If I have a busy week with the kids etc and can't fit as much training in, it's no big deal - I'm not training for anything! From a purely cycling perspective I'm probably riding less than in previous years but conversely (from running more I suspect) feeling really good when riding up hills... Not necessarily going faster, although I might be - I don't time myself going uphill, that would turn into a goal!
No easy answer to that one. Everyone is different and each day may bring different feelings, health, goals and/or motivation.
My motivation/goals to ride has generally been to spend time exercising with my son and to raise money for cancer. (I'm leading the Ride for a Reason fundraising leaderboard!) With so many donations and so may friends and family with cancer, I have huge motivation to train for and ride the full 138km TDU.
My latest added motivation is to get fitter and trimmer for my trip to Hawaii. I have also found that cycling is a great way to reduce stress and minimise depressive moods.
I think its good to read or talk to people about their stories and motivations, but at the end of the day, it has to be something that works for you.
I've only taken up cycling seriously in the last 2 years and have found the cycling fraternity to be very understanding and supportive, whether on this blog or during rides.
Hope we can meet on a ride soon.
Regards, Paul S
One of the things I've noticed come up a few times in the comments is the benefit of having a riding partner who motivates you. I'm really lucky in this respect because my partner, CLP is the most fantastic motivator possible! He was actually the person who started me riding (as well as a few others in our office) and has been the most amazing support ever since. We often ride home together and I get quite a challenge trying to keep up with him. He also has a great deal of good advice and seems to know when I need that extra kick to get me going or if I should just stay in bed! In our recent mountain bike adventures (both of us being new to this) he was my motivation to try trails I never would have tried by myself. Admittedly, there was a lot of walking involved but being encouraged to get out of my comfort zone a little bit was really rewarding. So I guess if had to say what motivates me the most, it's sharing the ride with a good friend and working with each other to challenge ourselves.