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In order to create the environment that will motivate you to achieve your goals or complete certain tasks, you will need a drive. Either you’re driven towards getting that rewards or driven to get away from the pain. So yeah, it’s both carrots and sticks. When you want to hold yourself accountable for something but it doesn’t seem to work, you might need external help. You can choose to get an accountability coach or buddy.

There are, however, situations where it doesn’t really make any difference to your motivation because the rewards and punishments are too vague and don’t serve any purpose in particular to you, the doer.

Take myself for example. I’ve been dreading to complete my thesis for over 5 years now. I’ve tried many ways to get myself into writing habits but always fail to follow through. I’ve even talked to people that offer to “help” me out.

While the people I talked to tried to be helpful, their method is wrong. They will put a condition that I will need to complete my thesis by certain time or I have to buy them fancy dinner, give them money, buy them new phone, and the list goes on. That sounds more like a challenge or a bet than a “punishment” to hold me accountable. If it’s a challenge or a bet, I would need the very same reward if I could complete my thesis. That’s when things get vague and tricky because they only want what benefits them, not me. The satisfaction of completing my thesis? Hardly enough to drive me or else I would have completed them without any push.

I’ve learned from a dear friend who’s a coach that the punishment put in place to motivate you to achieve your goals must hit you at your inner core. It has to be something that you’re afraid to lose or a situation you’ll feel so much pain to be in. However, this punishment must not be something that benefits the coach as in like giving the coach a certain amount of money.

While I agree that monetary loss can be something powerful but it must not benefits the coach. This will trigger the person unconsciously, “Is the coach genuine in pushing me when they have something to earn if I don’t complete my goals?” If you opt for monetary loss, you can choose to give the money to charity or as I’ve read an example from a book, the person asked his assistant to put aside ten ten-dollar bill every day. She was tasked to shred a ten dollar bill for each cold call he didn’t make. The assistant didn’t get to keep the money.

The rewards for completing the goals have to be something you strongly desire that you will wake up just thinking about the possibility of getting it. The rewards then can be something that also benefits your coach. Perhaps taking your coach out for a fancy dinner to celebrate or getting them a new phone even! Why not? They have worked hard to push you to complete your goals.

So bear in mind the punishment and reward you put in place to motivate you towards your goals.