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What Motivates You – Carrot or Stick? Do This Simple Exercise to Find Out

So, what’s your driver. The carrot or the stick. Reward or punishment. There's a very easy trick to working it out

So, what’s your driver.  The carrot or the stick. Reward or punishment. There's a very easy trick to working it out

OK take a moment now, sit down and close your eyes. Just imagine for a moment that you have a deadline you’re struggling to meet. Now imagine that you lack the will power, faith and self-discipline to hit that deadline.

That’s right, you missed the window.

Doesn’t feel good, does it.

Now close your eyes again and take yourself out into the future to that ‘post deadline’ time. Yes, you’re celebrating! Even if it’s only in a minor way: you’re languishing in the bath, or out doing something nice. Maybe you’re just sitting reading a book and relaxing, enjoying the fruits of your labour. What does the scene look like – knowing you hit that deadline?  How great does it feel?

So, Carrot or Stick?

So which one made you feel more motivated? The fear of failure or the promise of success? Be honest with yourself. Pick the one that felt more motivating and work on it.

Motivated by the Stick?

What does it feel like to know that you failed? Literally – be aware of the physical sensations in your body as you imagine this failure. Does it feel heavy, or tight and restricting? What’s happening with your breathing? What does it look like? I imagine it’s quite dark – a gloomy, dull lifeless picture. What does it sound like? Is someone yelling at you? Is it you yelling at you? What are the consequences? How does it affect you financially. What is the cost to your self-esteem? Your future prospects?

Motivated by the Carrot?

Now look again at those images of you celebrating – are they bright, light and buoyant? Brighten them up even more make them bigger and bolder. What do you hear when you have hit the deadline? Is there external praise? Can you hear yourself saying  ‘well done now you can do X!’ Maybe you can even hear applause! Perhaps you can breathe more easily and more deeply because you can relax now. You’ve done it!

Choose Your Driver and Get Motivated

Now you know what motivates you, you can keep working on those mental exercises that will keep driving you forward. Combined with a clear understanding of your goals, time management skills and a bit of work on making sure your “inner adult” is in charge,  you’ll find getting things done a lot easier.

Recommended Reading

Can’t Get Your Work Done? Here’s How To Hit Those Deadlines – Don’t get bogged down by your work-load. Here are some top tips for getting that project done in time.

Stop letting your child rule your life – Tired of beating yourself up for not being as perfect as you want to be? Sounds like you have some parent-child issues to deal with.

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