What’s Your Motivation?

Motivation from Carrot or StickIn life we have goals.  We all have something that we are working toward, and we all have our wants.  Some are lofty, some far-fetched, some reasonable, and some absurd; your actual goal, for this discussion, doesn’t really matter.  What matters is how you are going to obtain that goal.

If you have made it to the point where you were able to sit down and plan out your goals, then you’re doing better than many people.  There are quite a few that never even put thought into what they want to accomplish.  Now comes the hard part: developing the strategy to reach your goal, and maintaining the discipline to get there.

To start, you need to know whether you want a carrot or want to avoid the stick.

The Carrot vs. The Stick

Nobody is quite sure where the idiom of the carrot and the stick came from.  But in essence, it works like this.

mule-1093536_1280You have a cart and a mule (or ox, or donkey, or whatever) hooked up to the front.  You need to motivate that animal to pull the cart and you have two methods.  You can dangle a carrot in front of his nose, and as he moves forward to get the carrot he will pull the cart along.  Or you can strike his backside with a stick, and he will move forward to get away from the stick, and thus pull the cart along.

They are two very different means of encouraging the animal to get the job done.

Discovering Your Carrot and Your Stick

Most of the time we will be motivated by a combination of the two.  Nobody is strictly a carrot person, and nobody is strictly a stick person.  It may look like this:

You want the finer things in life.  So you go to work every day so you have money to spend on whatever you want.  You can spend it on eating out, vacations, fancy cars, and so on and so forth.  The lure of the reward is motivation to keep you working hard.  But on the flip side, you want to be able to put food on the table, pay the mortgage, and wear clothes that don’t smell or have holes in them.  You keep working hard so that you don’t fall into poverty.  The threat of punishment is motivation to keep you working hard.

One of those is going to be a stronger motivator than the other!

Here’s a quick checklist to see if you’re a carrot or a stick person.

  • Do you do what needs to be done each day or do you go above and beyond? If you go above, then you’re a carrot person.
  • Would you rather pay someone to wash your car, or save money and wash it yourself? If you would rather pay someone, you’re a carrot person.
  • Would you rather have more money and less free time, or would you rather have more free time and less discretionary income? If you want a bigger income, you’re a carrot person.
  • Do you make goals, and more often than not succeed? Or do you find yourself falling short?  If you meet or surpass your goals regularly, you’re a carrot person.

Discover your motivation for success

It’s hard narrowing it down, here’s a little anecdote to help you see it a little more clearly.

James works as a financial advisor.  He loves his truck, he loves working out, and he wants his business to succeed.  When his mentor asked him, “So what should we do if you don’t make enough phone calls, and I find out that you’ve been sleeping in and not working out?”  James thought for a minute, and replied, “Well, how about I take you out to lunch?”  His mentor looked at him and said, “Is $10 really going to motivate you?”  After some collaboration, they decided that if James fell short of his goal, another agent in the office would get to spray paint the side of his truck!

Without realizing it, James set himself up as a stick person.  A true carrot person shouldn’t have these problems, the lure of a fat paycheck and ripped upper body would be enough motivation.

What’s Your Carrot?  What’s Your Stick?

In order to make sure that you’re going to be on track to meet your goals, you need to know your carrot and your stick.  Without knowing your motivators, you won’t be able to get the work done that is needed in order to keep moving forward and reach your goal.

As a writer, digital marketer, and SEO expert in Billings, my biggest carrot is being recognized for my work.  My biggest stick is not being able to provide for my family.  There’s a happy medium in there somewhere that I’m always striving to find.









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