What do you do to ‘motivate’ yourself into doing something that would be good for you in the long-term but is difficult and not necessarily enjoyable in the short-term?  Do you keep yourself focused on today and pat yourself on the back when you  succeed?  Do you beat yourself up daily/hourly when you fail to do what you expect?  Do you hold the goal out in front of you and say “why can’t I get there?  It’s so easy!!!”  Yeah, well how’s that going for you?  Ready to try something else?

The carrot and the stick method of achieving something is a functional means of getting something done if the goal is short-term.  It corrects behavior in the now if eventually you get the carrot directly after behaving correctly.  It’s not good for long-term goals like holiday savings accounts or weight loss or learning to be come a fireman.  In fact, what it does is use the outcome, having a lot of money to spend on Christmas, as the carrot, but using the stick daily when you fail to put money in the account or draw a little out to pay a bill that is past due.  So you get beat up daily and possibly never reach the goal. And the good feeling you get from the goal, if you reach it, is momentary and doesn’t heal you from all the daily beatings.

How about we throw out the carrot and the stick all together.  I mean, why beat yourself up for being a good person and trying your best anyway?  Would you treat your puppy that way?  Do you mean that you’re treating yourself worse than a dumb animal?  Yep, I bet you are.  So stop it!!!  Start treating yourself the way you would treat others.  Reward yourself daily for the correct behavior.  A small dose of chocolate (or whatever small reward works for you) will go a long ways toward making you feel successful and more likely to continue doing the right thing.