What Motivates you? The Personal Ethical Bribe

Good morning

Something is in the water this week.  Perhaps a full moon? Perhaps the weather?  There is a challenge for many regarding how to keep themselves motivated.  Whether work, the family, or especially going to school to include the dissertation, staying motivated is often a challenge.  Why?  The dissertation in particular is a marathon, not a spring; feedback comes over and over—seemingly in an endless loop.  For many students, this loop can feel DEmotivating.  Thus, the question is: what do you do for yourself to stay motivated? Let me introduce your to the concept of the ethical bribe–for you.

We each need a bit of encouragement and motivation to keep going–particularly in long-term projects.  Thus, some people respond to the carrot-and-the stick approach–the reward vs. punishment. I’m suggesting the use of a reward–or the ethical bribe.  What makes you feel good? If you are a Starbucks coffee person, then let me invite you to ethically bribe yourself with a cup of your favorite blend when you finish a particularly daunting assignment or reach an important milestone.  Perhaps you might reward yourself with reading your favorite book (I know that reading for fun was hardly possible during my doctoral journey!), or watching your favorite TV program, or walking the dog, or spending time with a friend or loved one.  Think of this strategy as the Mary Poppins–spoonful of sugar-to-make-the-medicine-go down approach. Sometimes we are not particularly motivated for a specific task, yet it MUST be done nonetheless.  Thus, promise yourself a reward when its over—your reward for your efforts. Trust me. Bribery works–and no one needs to know. *Smiles*

Be careful not to go crazy as these rewards can get a bit expensive–but they don’t have to be.  The goal is simply to bribe yourself with a treat when the hard part is over.  I would offer stair stepping here as well; perhaps a Hershey Kiss or a chocolate treat for something small, perhaps a special coffee drink for something bigger, and then perhaps THE BIG ONE–a really BIG treat when you accomplish the final goal.  I treated myself to a special piece of jewelry on my right hand–a special ring for each of my degrees–undergraduate, masters, and doctorate–all increasingly substantially in investment as I continued to progress forward.  I call this my hand of knowledge. (ask to see my right hand at graduation–happy to show you my one of a king treats to me). *Grins*

For some of my students with small children, the ethical bribe was to Disneyland for the entire family when dad graduated with his doctorate.  Thus, feel free to include your family within this strategy as it takes a village to raise a child–and a doctoral student.

Be kind to yourself and reward yourself during particularly stressful times.  Remember the goal is simply to keep going.  No harm in a little treat along the way now is there? *mischievous grins*  The psychology of human nature can be fascinating–embrace this part of you and have a bit of fun to help you move forward.

I would love to hear your stories regarding what works for you.  Feel free to leave a comment below to share your success stories.

Be kind to yourself.

My best,  Dr. Cheryl
The Academic Entrepreneur

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February 25th, 2017 by admin

One Comment

  1. 1 Mark Dandridge says:

    Hello Dr. C! Great blog! What motivates me is a supportive wife and a faith in God! I know for a fact I am here for a purpose and when I am done the rewards will be limitless. This is indeed a marathon but at the same time it can’t be treated as a retirement project! It takes time but if we are not careful, time can certainly slip away. Forward I go!

    March 30th, 2017 at 2:46 am

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