Avoiding the Carrots

You know how the carrot-dangling phenomenon works, right? You entice somebody to work for an attractive incentive, except that the prize is impossible to achieve.

Similarly, we often create imaginary carrots for ourselves, and then we chase them hopelessly until it’s too late to realize that we’ve spent a large chunk of our time trying to make some narrative in our heads come true.

Like, you could daydream about getting picked and becoming an exceptional pop icon. Or perhaps, in your head, you’re already going to be that classic rags-to-riches entrepreneur.


Maybe that won’t happen.

Maybe you’ll die ordinarily, along with that narrative of yours. So then, would it mean that your efforts are deemed useless?  

I’m not endorsing pessimism or suggesting that we give up hope, but I’m pointing towards something more important: the need to shift our focus from fantasizing about narratives to finding joy in the process itself.

Let the work of creating music be your reason for joy. Or appreciate the process of running a business. Make your work a greater source of happiness instead of achievements.

It’s easy to overlook what you have when you’re always eyeing what you want (or where you want to be). Even if you reach your desired place, you’ll still question the sacrifices that you made. You’ll wonder what you lost along the way.

That can feel silly and leave you with regrets.

How do you avoid that?

Cherish the journey; avoid the carrots.