How to Make a Goal Into A Carrot

by Dr. Kevin Polk, Ph.D.

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You have done a super job of reaching many of your goals so far, but maybe now you are in a rut and are having a bit of trouble finding your way. Maybe your are fine now and may get in a rut in the future. Read on for a simple way of getting out of a rut.

"Ruts" happen to the best of us. The good news is that you can get out of it and start reaching new goals with just a little extra "guidance" on your part.

The fact is that you spend most of your time by habit (ruts). You spend time by habit because it saves you time. It takes a lot of time to think about how you are going to spend time differently. Deciding how to spend your time differently, however, has everything to do with reaching your goals.

As you probably know, breaking old habits is often not fun to do. That's why we all avoid breaking habits every chance we get. So how do you get out of a rut and start heading toward a goal? By using a variation of the carrot and stick approach.

You know that approach. You tie a carrot to a stick and hold it in front of the donkey's nose, just out of reach. The donkey tries to eat it and the carrot stays just out of reach. The only problem is that you are not a donkey, so you will have to KNOW that you will eventually get that carrot. You can do that, but first you have to "make yourself a carrot out of your goal."

6 Steps to making a goal into a carrot:

  1. Think of a goal you have had, but have not started on.
  2. Write that goal down on a sheet of paper. (This is important!)
  3. Now list the concrete things you will get with the goal. For example, who will be with you? What things (houses, cars, toys, etc.) will you get with it? Where will you be when this goal is done? How will you feel when you reach the goal? Write the answers to these questions down on the paper too. (Again, this is important. Do it!)
  4. Look at the list of people, places, things and feelings associated with your goal. Which of these is most likely to motivate you the most? Underline that one.
  5. Now write the one you chose down in the following sentence: "When I get out of my rut and reach my goal I will get __________." You fill in the blank with the thing you underlined (that's your carrot). Put this sentence in at least five places where you will see it every day. You can even make it into a picture of a carrot if you want to, just make sure to include the sentence.
  6. Read your goal and reward/carrot five time a day and in no time at all you will be thinking about what you will get if you get out of your rut. Then think about what you can DO so you can get what you want. Once you do something you are out of the rut and working toward your goal. If you do the work, you get the carrot!

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