I recently heard the term “carrot and stick” in reference to motivation. Basically it’s all about motivating yourself through a series of reward and punishment, it can also refer to achieving more through reward depending on the context of the idiom. I might be off on that seeing as I only recently learnt what it meant but the point being is that it got me thinking about motivation in relation to work.
I have been working a lot lately, with my next comic illustration gig just starting up, my old job with “Wyvern” coming to a close, and my regular hours at the comic store during the Holiday season. My caffeine intake is up dramatically and my amount of down time has significantly decreased. It can be hard to stay motivated these days when all I want to do is play a video game, enjoy a meal at my kitchen table and get a good nights sleep. If I want to complete my work and pay my bills I know I need to keep going.
Just knowing you have to get something done isn’t always enough to keep you going, and I find the whole “carrot and stick” method doesn’t always work for everyone. Whenever I reward myself with a “break” I find myself having an even harder time getting back into the flow, especially when I am in the middle of a project.
I’m the type of person that needs to brew a pot of coffee, sit down and zone out for a few hours till I get done what I need to get done. Breaks distract me and leave me feeling even more drained than I was when I started. Especially since my breaks usually consist of doing household chores. A break doesn’t feel like a real break when you spend it cleaning floors.
So what do I do to keep myself motivated? If rewarding myself doesn’t work, what about punishments? If I don’t finish project on time do I just take my break away? Well yeah, but that’s less of a punishment and more of a necessity if I want to finish my project and get paid. Stop myself from seeing my partner so I can finish my work? I only see him once a week due to distance and honestly I think that’s what keeps me sane. I don’t want to confine myself to a straight jacket just yet, I’m trying to delay that till I’m at least in my mid-forties.
I often find the best way to keep myself motivated is by comparing myself to others.
I know, I know. I’ve said to never compare yourself to others on a few different occasions but I feel like this comparison is a bit different. I do it in a less self-deprecating sort of way.
One of my favourite things to do is listen to a podcast or documentary detailing other artists and their creative process and then take notes whenever I hear something that fires me up. My favourite one actually comes from a Jack Kirby documentary;
Jack could complete a comic a week.
An entire pencilled comic in one week. Now, I’m not saying that I want to work at that rate right away. This man was a pioneer and I realize he is a legend in comic circles . He was well-known for his work ethic. My point is, I know that doing a comic in a week is possible while maintaining a consistent product. I may not be at that level yet but I know it’s achievable. That’s the point. Knowing that if I work hard enough I can get there.
I’m still starting out and learning more and more about my art, but I know where I want to end up and I’ll keep that in my sight.
If I ever forget what I want, or need a push towards where I need to be I just replay one of my motivators and it gets me fired up. Seeing something I want always works, and this extends to everything.
If I need to spend a day cleaning and organizing my work station I’ll look up artist work stations on image search and once I get the feeling of wanting what I am seeing it’ll make me want to work towards having that. In other words, I want to clean and organize the ever-living-fiddely out of everything I touch to make everything as streamline and efficient as possible as I work.
Seeing what is possible and working towards it. That’s what keeps me motivated. I want what others have and sitting around, staring at the ceiling will get me nothing.
Well, it works for me. The Carrot and Stick method may work you, or maybe you have another way of firing up. Everyone is different and we all have different things, but if you’re anything like me, competitive workaholic with a need for recognition, then maybe try this method. If not then try finding your carrot (see what I did there? It’s the title of the blog post. It’s all connected). Find something that keeps you going through the long days, you’re bound to have something that’ll help you.
Well folks, that pretty much sums it all up in a pretty little coffee and ink soaked package. No matter how you keep yourself motivated always remember that time is a factor and there is only so much you can do in a day. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you can’t fit everything into one day. Don’t let it discourage you and don’t let yourself become your own worst enemy when it comes to work motivation.
Till next time folks, stay Tobly awesome.
I know I will.