A famous workout guru once said, “Some clients need the carrot, some clients need the stick, and some clients need to be tricked”. There is a lot of wisdom in that approach and you’ll find that the same holds true in any area of life you need to find motivation. For most of you, myself included, all three methods will work at different times based on the specific circumstances. One way to significantly ramp up your productivity is to know which tool to employ to manipulate yourself into taking action.
Imagine that you decided having a beautiful home was something that you desired. We could use anything here, but this seems to be a common enough goal that it is likely to resonate with a large percentage of the people reading this.
Those of you who are motivated by the carrot (positive incentives) would spend your days creating photo galleries of homes, estates, manors, properties, and interiors that inspire you. You’d begin planning exactly what you want, picturing yourself living in it, and beginning the process of drawing up detailed, ready-to-execute blueprints for it so that when you are in a position to do it, the file is already completed and ready to be implemented.
Those of you who are motivated by the stick (negative incentives) would be more driven by seeing and focusing on things you don’t want. It’s not so much beautiful, inspiring homes that will spur you to action, it would be browsing sites such as this one, which is a collection of ugly houses, horrible interiors, and disorganization. It’s the same sensation as watching an episode of Hoarders and suddenly wanting to reorganize everything in your life so it is pristine. You get this internal fire, like an explosion, screaming, “I’ve got to get out of here” or “I can’t live like this”.
Finally, those of you who are motivated by the trick (distraction) would do something like creating a video-game like system, assigning “Levels” to each phase so that acquiring the home of your dreams was a real-world version of leveling up, just as you’d grind a character for better experience, loot, weapons, and accessories in your favorite title. You’d assign ranking systems, or titles, based on specific achievements and then level up in the real world.
At different times in your life, and for different projects, all three can be utilized. For the on-going minimalism project I am undertaking at the moment, I find myself using the first two methods as both make me want to get up, discard or recycle the non-necessary, and get this multi-month project off my task list. For things like building a new business, I’d likely use the third approach. I’ve learned what works in my own mind and for my own wiring.
If you ever find yourself unable to summon the motivation to take actions, remember, those are the three tools available to you: Carrots, sticks, and tricks. If neither works, in my experience it is often a good idea to consider putting the project down and moving onto something else as you are likely wasting your time.