Motivation: The carrot or the stick?

2013Feb15_Motivation_AThe modern age is all about freedom through encouragement, inspiration and setting a positive example. Less popular than it once was is the idea that ‘punishment’ or a rule that curtails you in some way will really motivate you to change your ways. This is certainly the case when it comes to the issue of of health and fitness and how individuals look after themselves. So what makes you lead a healthier lifestyle, is it ultimately the carrot or the stick?

Do you tend to use fear as a way of getting the wind beneath your wings and improving the way you live your life? Or, do you set goals and reach them because you want to fulfill a dream or prove to yourself that you can do it? Do you tell yourself that you’ll end up overweight and out of shape if you don’t workout. Or, do you hop, skip and jump to the gym or your fitness session, buoyed up by the promise of becoming body beautiful?

Costs can deter
The effectiveness of the carrot or the stick is open to debate but perhaps what’s important is the context. A rise in alcohol prices by 10% in Canada resulted in a big drop in alcohol-related deaths according to researchers in British Columbia between 2002 and 2009. While the US has no legal minimum on alcohol prices, other parts of the world, such as the UK are battling possible culturally related issues such as binge drinking and the effects of increased drinking amongst women.

The stick
While laws may shape behavior, motivation is a force that often comes from within and needs to be sustainable and long-lasting to help you maintain an exercise plan. The issue with using the stick is that beating yourself up could lead to a crisis of confidence feelings of guilt and helplessness. The stick takes away control and autonomy and may make you want to rebel. However, sometimes a short, sharp shock, such as straight talking words from a physician about the state of your health, might be just what you need to wake up and take action.

The carrot
There’s a difference between having plans and dreams and being totally delusional. Enthusiasm without substance can sometimes go wayward. You might feel you have all the will in the world and can transform your life, only to buckle under the pressure of your own starry potential. Inspiration is one thing but setting your sights at a too high a level can set you up for a fall, regardless of how eager you are. On the positive front, believing in yourself and feeling good about where you are heading can give you just the fuel you need to get there.

What do you think? If you think about big changes you’ve made in life, has it been the carrot or the stick that’s really motivated you? Let us know!

This entry was posted in General Health Articles A, Motivation & Mental Attitude and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Internet Presence Management for Health Club Owners

    pronto logoFull-service, pay-as-you-go all inclusive websites, from design and content to SEO and social media management for one low monthly price. Learn more at Pronto for Health Clubs.