Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kaelah's Corner (Sep 2012):
Whips and Carrots

(Didn't have any fresh carrots...)

It seems to me that, when it comes to motivation methods, many spankos belong to the whip faction rather than the carrot faction. Which means that many fellow kinksters seem to motivate themselves through rules and objectives in combination with the prospect of being punished when falling short of the agreed expectations and standards. I already explained in earlier posts why this approach doesn't work for me at all.

The reason is that I have very high expectations of myself, anyway, and that I tend to push myself too much even without the additional threat of a punishment. One member of my inner team already is a strict lady with a whip, who only has eyes for the goals I am supposed to achieve. She makes sure that I always come out on top of every exam or project. The problem with her is that she doesn't care too much about how I feel. So, I try to teach her that my well-being is at least as important as my work output. And while she is appreciated as a part of my inner team, she has to function as a team member and do her job in collaboration with the other team members who make sure that I live out my creative streak as well and tell me how to take good care of myself. Discipline agreements would be very counterproductive in this process.

That's why I very much prefer to work with carrots in order to motivate me. I know that I need some time to relax after a difficult project in order to recharge my batteries. And so I motivate myself with the positive pictures of how cool it will be when I will have achieved my goals and take a wonderful time-out afterwards. But even that approach can become dangerous when it turns too much into a strict "first work then fun" paradigm. I already told you in an earlier post that this is the Protestant work ethic I have been raised with. I still find this approach generally fine, but taking it to the extreme would mean that one is only allowed to feel good and have fun when all the work is done, and done perfectly. Thus, the carrot turns into a whip.

I am in such a situation right now. As I mentioned in recent posts, Ludwig and I haven't seen each other in quite a while. It's been more than four weeks now. The reason is that I am in the final stage of a project and my work requires lots of attention right now. So I told Ludwig that we would better not see each other until the project is finished. My plan was to take a week off afterwards and enjoy an intense time with Ludwig without any distraction from work.

But, as usual with projects, the finish date had to be postponed several times. The project won't be over before next weekend. According to my plan, that would have meant no trip to the Oktoberfest this year. Still, I accepted that, my eyes firmly fixed on the carrot of being free soon and sharing a full relaxing week with Ludwig. I have been running on low batteries for quite some time and I know that I need some time off, soon. Especially because another important task awaits me. One that I can't ignore. Basically, it is about making sure that I can still buy myself carrots next year.

Then it happened: That other, second task has suddenly popped up earlier than expected. So, no week off after my current project is finished. When it happened, I suddenly felt like a mountain climber who has only enough energy left for what she thought were the last meters to the mid-station where she could take an energizing meal at a panoramic restaurant. And all of a sudden she becomes aware that the end of the cliff isn't near yet, that it is many more meters to the safe alpine meadows. That's when I realised that I didn't have enough energy left. I felt like I started slipping, rocks breaking loose beneath me, and I was scared of falling.

But instead of simply sticking to my plan and pushing myself forward as I most probably would have done in the old days, I took a moment to breathe and thought about possible new solutions given the unexpected changes. And I realised that I can't wait until the current project is over. I need my carrot now! Without the energy, I won't make it to the finish line. And, let's face it, if you want to convince someone that they should pay for your carrots, you better look like a winner horse and not like an old mare that will break down any minute. Another reason to change plans and get some energy now.

That means I am going to meet Ludwig on Tuesday. I can hardly put into words what a relief it was to finally make that decision. I will work on my current project and on my task to make sure that I can still buy myself carrots next year from his place. But, I will also take off a few hours every day and spend leisure time with Ludwig. I hope the weather will be fine so that we can go on some walks and spend time outside. I am sure we will have great food as well. Plus, we will go to the Oktoberfest! I am quite confident that these carrots will carry me through the next weeks, until both of my tasks are finished. And then there will hopefully be some more time for a proper holiday.

I have to admit, I am very proud that I put my well-being over my usual working paradigm and over sticking to my plan. I think relying on certain approaches in life is fine. It gives orientation and stability. For me, the approach is the carrot, for others it's the whip. But I have learned from past experiences that one should not put theoretical approaches or ideals over one's well-being. In case of doubt, trusting one's gut feeling seems to be much healthier than blindly sticking to paradigms. It's not easy, but I think it's extremely deliberating!

Still, it is funny to see how different possible motivation strategies generally are. My approach is the carrot. One of my carrots is the whip, though, and the hand, and the cane, and... How about you? Are you a carrot or a whip type? Or maybe a bit of both?


Ludwig said...

It was the right decision to make. I could tell from our telephone conversations that you were getting lower and lower on energy by the day. Time to pull the emergency brake, have a few days off and then attack the project again with recharged batteries. I'm looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday and pampering you!

As for me, I never really thought about the question before, but I guess I am both the whip type and the carrot type when it comes to self-motivation. Depending on the situation, I might choose one, the other, or both.

Donpascual said...

Agreed on all counts. Right decision, I have been in the same position. Let Ludwig pamper you - but not without a bit of "motivation" :-).

Carrot or stick? Don't know. Maybe leaning more on the carrot side.


I wish you good weather, fair rambling and maybe some of those Bavarian broken pancakes, with raisins in, that everyone tells me are so good :)


Gaviao said...

Generally, people who live in southern Europe, we do not understand the mentality and the sense that you give to your life. Southern Europeans are not lazy, but we thought that the ideal is "work to live" rather than "live to work". I advise you to enjoy your life as much as possible (but without neglecting your work) only have one life!

Lea said...

I don't know which type I'd be, I generally don't have much motivation for most things and do them just because I have to.

I hope you enjoy a lovely break with Ludwig and have more energy afterwards to do what you need to do.

ronnie said...

I think you made the right decision. Enjoy, relax be pampered.

I never thought about the question before, think more leaning to the carrots.


Fenris said...

I am glad to hear you opted for the carrot and give the lady with the whip a break before she starts to suffer from tennis elbow...

I wish you and Ludwig a very happy time together.

Ana said...

For me it is very tricky because I respond fastest to the whip, but if it is used too much then I think I can't do it. I give up. I have the same problem Lea mentions. I also, if I set up carrots, set my goals far too high and defeat myself before I even begin. I hate to set limitations. Sometimes the whip can *feel* a bit like a "it's okay, you only have to do X and I'm going to make sure that you do, and you don't have to think about anything else."

Erica said...

GOOD FOR YOU. Life provides enough whips. We need our carrots. Good for you for being so good to yourself and recognizing it was carrot time.

I prefer the carrot also. The whip thing is something I enjoy, but not as a threat, something hanging over my head to make me be responsible. I am responsible because I want to be, because I choose to be. And the carrot is my treat for doing the right things.

MasonPearson said...

Intriguing post as always. If I was mentoring someone like you (what a delicious thought) I might use the whip to encourage certain agreed behaviour. The thing I would like to promote is a decent work-life balance, probably to restrict overwork.
In any event I hope you both have a really nice time together.

Kind regards

Emen said...

I have to admit I'm thinking of actual carrots used in deliciously enticing ways.

Never mind :)

Anonymous said...

Man, can't believe you have the strength to stay away that long! That is crazy! I grew up in a protestant (lutheran, they call it here) country too, but could never have denied myself so long. What about a few match sticks drizzled over the work period? As a form of motivational r and r?. You're one tough cookie alright. Hope you enjoy your carrot!

Kaelah said...

@ Ludwig:
I'm so glad I made that decision. :-)

@ Donpascual:
We already had quite some pampering. Maybe I will soon be fit enough for some “motivation” as well. ;-)

@ Spankedhortic:
We went to the Oktoberfest today. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't all too good, but we had lots of delicious Bavarian food. :-)

@ Gaviao:
I absolutely agree with you! The people I envy the most are those who really love their jobs, though. I know a few people for whom job and private passion are one, which is really cool. I work for a living, but I always try to work in an environment that I like and for employers who offer a fair work-life-balance. The reason why I have so much stress right now is that I have decided to do a PhD. This is something that I do for myself, but still it means quite some extra work at times. Things will hopefully get better soon, though. :-)

@ Lea:
Thank you! I slept for about 12 hours in my first night with Ludwig and I think I am slowly building up energy again. :-)

@ Fenris:
The tennis elbow argument is hilarious! :-) I will remember that one. Thank you very much for your good wishes, I think I am slowly recovering.

@ Ana:
I absolutely get the point of being given small, achievable goals and not having to worry about all the high mountains which are still lying ahead. I try to do the same now when setting myself goals, for example for my PhD. Of course, I always have the big picture in my head as well, but when it comes to working goals, I try to take it step by step and day by day. That's not easy for me, because I am an INTJ, and I am used to planning far ahead. But I think I am getting better. :-)

@ Erica:
Thank you! I am absolutely with you about carrots! :-)

@ MasonPearson:
Making sure that I stick to a good work-life balance is indeed one of the goals I am working on. And a reminder to take good care of myself is one of the premises which could even have a positive connotation for a real-life spanking for me (although I am usually not into any real-life spanking at all). What helps me more than the whip, though, is someone who helps me with some of my duties and who reassures me that it is okay to delay a few things if my to-do list gets too long.

@ Emen:

@ suburbanbdsm:
Don't worry, this was the longest time Ludwig and I didn't see each other that we ever had! Usually, I am taking my carrots much more often. :-) But this time, I needed to be at my place in order to do my work.

Indy said...

I think getting away from your normal environment can be very helpful for completing a difficult task. Either way, you'll have to take some time in the day for other things, and it's easier to get your mind fully off the task-sword-of-Damacles when you have lovely distractions like Ludwig.

Good luck with the task, and may your breaks from the work be just what you need.


Kaelah said...

@ Indy:
Thank you very much for your lovely words. I have worked quite a lot during my stay, but, as you said, it has been great to be in another environment and to have Ludwig around. Now it is about one more week and then hopefully one task at least will be finished. :-)