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10 Ways to Motivate Yourself with a Carrot, Not a Stick

How do you motivate yourself in your personal and business life spheres? Which do you choose, the carrot of the stick?

Picture yourself as a Pepe the donkey. You're sitting in the middle of a dirt road with a cart of vegetables attached to you. Your boss, Eduardo the farmer, wants you to move, but you've had a bad day and just want to sit and bask in the midday sun for a few minutes.

Eduardo has a different idea. He walks over to you and whispers in your ear. "Okay Pepe," he begins. "You have a choice, the carrot or the stick?"

Which would you choose?

Now, you and Eduardo have gone through this many times before, and you know both the carrot and the stick can get you to move. But you choose the carrot. After a bite or two, you stand up and start down the road, anticipating another bite out of the carrot.

Choosing the Carrot or the Stick

Think of how you motivate yourself in your personal and business life spheres. Which do you chose, the carrot of the stick?

Actually, both the carrot and the stick work, don't they?

We often do things to avoid negative consequences---the stick. For example, in school we are motivated to finish a term paper at the last moment so we won't fail a course. Or, we burn the midnight oil to complete a business proposal and submit it before the next day's deadline. Negative motivation does work, but it can have a negative effect on your motivation in the long-term, no matter what you do in life.

Ways to Positively Motivate Yourself

Here are 10 positive steps you can take to motivate yourself so you can take to accomplish things in your personal and business spheres, and enjoy your carrots.

Determine the WHY. Why do you want to accomplish the task? When you decide the why, your passions, interests, and positive traits become driving forces behind what you are doing. You are pulled forward by the WHY to take purposeful actions. Describe the WHY in a sentence or two and revisit as needed to motivate you.

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals. Set goals that are specific, manageable, achievable, relevant and time-based. When you establish this kind of goals, instead of a general wish list, you create a detailed map you can follow to get to your final destination, what you want to accomplish. You will be able to track your progress, and make adjustments if needed.

Seek a Partner. Spread the word to someone you trust and can count on to come alongside you, motivate you, and keep you on track. Accept it when he or she suggests an attitude adjustment. Appreciate it when they encourage you with a pat on the back. Acknowledge their value in helping motivate you.

Outwit Procrastination. If you tend to procrastinate, for whatever reason, and you can probably think of many, surprise the part of you that procrastinates by giving in to the tendency. That's right. Procrastinate, but just a little. Commit to a time when you will begin again and stick to it. Even if you repeat the process, you will be making progress and avoid the usual guilt feelings.

Monitor Your Self-Talk. No matter how motivated you are at the beginning, negative self-talk by your internal critic will creep into your thinking and dampen your enthusiasm, especially if you experience setbacks. Stop the automatic negative thoughts (A.N.T.S.) that arise and replace them with positive thoughts and affirmations.

Define Your Distractions. You're heading for a 4:00 dentist appointment. On your way, you pass your favorite local pub. You stop to say hello. An hour later, you walk into your dentist's office at 4:20. Late. Chances are you knew you would stop for a "quick one." Part of motivating yourself is defining distractions that could keep you from success and committing to avoid them.

Celebrate the Small. Military leaders from the beginning of time knew you have to win the battles to win the war. Break the project on which you are working into smaller manageable parts, celebrate the small successes, and reward yourself when you complete them. The task won't seem as daunting. The mountain peak will come closer with each small step.

Be Ready to Bounce Back. A boxer goes into the ring expecting to win, hopefully by a knockout. But as certain as he may be about the referee raising his hand in victory, he also has to be ready to get up off the mat to keep fighting. You may have setbacks in accomplishing your goal, but be ready to get back up, face the problem, assess what you need to do, and do it. Resiliency is a recipe for success.

See It and Sign It. Visualize how you will proceed, how you will succeed, and how you will feel accomplishing your goal. Draw a picture of it. Post on your wall a magazine picture about it. Write about it in your journal. Then, go all in by committing to it by signing some type of an agreement with yourself.

Pray, Pray, Pray. Before, during, and after your efforts to accomplish your goal and succeed, go before the best partners and cheerleaders you'll ever find. Get God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit involved. They are your ultimate partners and cheerleaders as you take positive steps to motivate yourself so you can enjoy your "carrots."

Pray for guidance as you plan. Pray for strength to continue, especially if you stumble. Pray to give thanks.

Listen to God's Words

"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters," (Colossians 3:23)

Also read: Proverbs 3:1-35, Matthew 19:26, 1 Corinthians 15:58

In the Words of Others

"Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best." St. Jerome

"Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star." W. Clement Stone

"Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."

Wayne Dyer

Things to Consider

  • Have you had trouble motivating yourself in your personal life or work life? If yes, describe in a sentence or two why you think so.

  • Have you had to deal with procrastination, negative self-talk, distractions, and setbacks when trying to be motivated? If yes, how have you handled these challenges?

  • When you begin planning to accomplish something, do you involve God, praying for guidance, strength, and his blessing? If not, why not?


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