One of the most common blocks people have in getting what they want is pursuing goals they see as burdens, rather than gifts they would LIKE to have, in their own interest.
It’s easy to see why this is backwards. Assuming you’re an adult with a reasonable degree of freedom, whatever goals you are setting should be for yourself or some extension (a family you love, your belief in giving back to the community, a desire for improvement, etc).
But oftentimes, we don’t see it that way. We believe we “should” or worse, “have to” do something. This kind of thinking is very demotivating in the long run.
People that use this kind of language (have to’s and shoulding) are essentially treating themselves as defiant children, who need to be disciplined and forced into things. They implicitly assume they won’t move forward without tricking themselves or getting a bit of a beating.
What if we could lose the language of obligation and start thinking in terms of choices and possibility? The next time you find yourself thinking you ought or must do something - the motivational equivalent of straightjacketing - take a step back and ask yourself, what could you do, given your desires and the present situation?
This logic extends to goal setting. The next time you set a challenging goal, run a motivational quality check. Ask yourself what’s in it for the home team. Does the outcome seem positive and rewarding, or is there something bigger, or completely different, that you would like to see?
Maybe you’re thinking, that's all well and good, but I have a lot of obligations I take seriously, and there are certain milestones I need to hit. To this I say, I’m glad you’re committed to something.
But assuming we aren’t in danger and have our basic survival needs met, we actually don’t need anything. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. You commit to things because you value them OR because you believe you are somehow insufficient or lacking. There are people who survive and thrive in awful conditions. And you think you need to really wow your stakeholders in your next presentation? You don’t really need anything. Because most people reading this have always had things and suffer from a serious case of loss aversion, it’s difficult to fully understand this. Once we do it is incredibly freeing.
To sum it up, if your goals or day to day activities involve a lot of “have to’s” and “shoulding,” apply simple rewording. Ask yourself what you would like to do, given the circumstances. In treating goals as gifts, and reminding yourself that you have choices, you will be much more likely to get exactly what you are seeking. No carrots or sticks needed.