What’s Motivating You: the Carrot or the Stick?
When it comes to making change, motivation matters.
You’ve seen this in your own life … maybe time and time again. You’ve started on big plans and goals which fizzle out, because you couldn’t stay motivated.
I know it’s happened to me. I’ve often wanted to change, only to find that I lacked the ability to really follow through. Something that’s helped me, though, is to understand the power of two different types of motivation:
“Towards” Motivation: The Carrot
Some people are primarily motivated by wanting to get something.
- They want to lose weight in order to get a great figure
- They want to make lots of money in order to get a big house
- They want to finish a degree in order to get into the career of their dreams
What are you hoping to achieve? What “carrots” are drawing you forwards?
Don’t discount your competitive spirit: setting a new record for ourselves – or our department or peer group – can be incredibly motivating.
“Away From” Motivation: The Stick
Other people are primarily motivated by wanting to avoid something.
- They want to lose weight in order to avoid health problems in later life
- They want to make lots of money in order to avoid poverty
- They want to finish a degree in order to avoid looking stupid
What “sticks” are keeping you on the path to your goals?
Most of us hate the idea of letting someone else down. This is where accountability can come into play: we’re keen to do what we’ve said we’ll do.
Which Type of Motivation is Better?
Both “towards” and “away from” motivation work.
You might find that you’re naturally drawn to one style rather than the other. If you’ve tried one sort of motivation and it’s not done much for you, give the other one a go.
For instance, many people who know they should make health changes and who want to do so don’t actually manage to stick to their plans. A health scare – like a heart problem, or a family crisis – can be the “stick” that finally jolts them into action.
I personally find that the pull towards something I want works well for my long-term goals – but in the short term, the fear of what I don’t want can galvanize me into action!
I’d love to hear your experiences with both types of motivation: which seems to work better for you? What goals and changes have you achieved in the past, using either type, or a combination of both?
Photo by needoptic