I've always had a lot of respect for bodybuilders; not just because of their bodies but because of the dedication, determination, blood, sweat and sometimes tears this magnificent breed of men and women put into their sport. They would not be able to follow such strict diet and training regimes without this one magical thing called motivation.
According to the oxford dictionary, motivation is the thing which "causes a person to act in a particular way." According to me, motivation is the thing which separates success from failure - the thing that, along with genetics, earns people the title of "Mr. Universe" or "Mr. Olympia". Motivation in undoubtedly the most important factor in the career of a bodybuilder.
Pictures can be a great motivational tool! Many bodybuilders stick up photos of their favorite bodybuilders to give them something to work towards. Also, if you are just starting out, or even if you're quite advanced, try taking some pics and sticking them up. Every couple of months take another photo and stick it up so that you can track your progress. I find these visual training logs are a lot more useful than pen and paper - you can really see your progress and it's not just a few numbers on the back page of a notebook.
I'm not saying that bodybuilding is not a sport, just that it is a slow one. You have to spend a long time working up to an event which will probably only last a day. A good sport to take up is boxing - it keeps you fit and gives you the boost in the gym that next time you take off your shirt to batter hell out of your opponent, you will be that much bigger and stronger. Any sport is good though so long as it is competitive and you can work towards a short-term goal. Oh yeah, and as long as you stick to doing it only once per week, you shouldn't burn off too much muscle. You could try incorporating it into your cardio.
The value of a permanent training partner is often overlooked. As well as helping you achieve your bodybuilding goals by screaming encouragement in the gym, a training partner can also be a great motivational aid outside the gym - not directly but training partners are always competing against each other. I know there are those bodybuilders out there who will say they bodybuild for themselves and they don't care how good they look compared to others, but I reckon most of them are lying. Competing against one another is no bad thing and a bit of friendly rivalry never hurt anyone!
I know this doesn't work for everyone - you have to have quite a lot of self control to be able to do it in the first place, but setting rewards for yourself is the way forward for some bodybuilders. For example, you could say something like "I will take that trip to Hawaii if I reach my goal weight by the end of the month." Even if you don't make your goal weight, you could book the trip if you think you've worked hard and deserve it. You could even say something as simple as "I will order a pizza and have some mates around if I do all my scheduled workouts for this week and don't slack". However, be sure not to fall into the trap of inviting mates around or booking trips to Hawaii if you don't reach your goals. This won't do you any good and all it will mean is that you keep screwing up your diet and training regime for nothing.
Obviously, controlled aggression will help you in the gym - it's one of the reasons steroids work so well (not that I'm condoning there use - they have side effects). But what has it got to do with motivation? Well I'm not talking about aggression in general - I'm talking about aggression that can build up during the day. If you work in a stuffy office and you've just lost your Christmas bonus and you've spent the day going through a huge pile of paperwork, you are undoubtedly going to have at least some aggression in your mind. One way of winding down after a hard day at the office is to have a long relaxing soak in the bath and eat a tub of expensive ice cream, but let's face it.
We're men for a start and that kind of thing's not supposed to appeal and, as bodybuilders, a tub of ice cream 3 nights a week is not going to do us a much good as a hard workout. A hard workout will, however, help you to wind down. True - it will probably wind you up first, but some activities, especially such things as punching a punch bag, will actually let you "use up" all that aggression you have inside you and become a nicer person J . Basically, another good reason to go to the gym - remember to always use your aggression to your advantage!