The Stick and The Carrot

An old research study posed that motivation is a balance between reward and punishment. It was based on the scenario of riding a donkey. If the rider wanted the animal to “go,” they needed to prompt the action by placing a carrot just outside the donkey’s reach. This would hopefully nudge the little guy forward. If the donkey didn’t comply, the stick could then be used to give a stern poke as physical motivation. Ouch!

While the carrot and stick theory is outdated, there are still some truths that remain. Let’s examine what we can learn from this motivational technique when it come to studying for and obtaining your HSE credential.

The Stick: Give your pain purpose, not power. We all need a good kick-in the pants from time to time. Our negative circumstances, if channeled correctly, can motivate us to make a change. Our past missteps, mistakes, and hardships CAN fuel our desire to move forward. But this can only happen if we view past pain as an opportunity to do better. Viewing our past as a reminder of failure zaps our confidence. Don’t give your past pain power. Give it purpose!

The Carrot: Make your dreams a driver. Humans naturally want the the big payoff. Obtaining your HSE credential and moving on with your next steps in life has different meaning and significance for each individual. Your personal “why” provides a targeted motivation when you keep it in focus. But don’t lose sight of the importance of creating small rewards along the way. Giving yourself little “carrots” in the form of small but meaningful rewards can fuel your pursuit. Try setting incentives based on your study efforts, practice test results, or personal accomplishments to keep yourself on track.


Your success is our goal! Essential Education can help you in your next steps in life.

1-800-460-8150 or studenthelp@essentialed.com

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