People thrive when they’re working against some kind of force — even if that force isn’t real. If you’re looking for a way to motivate yourself, try giving yourself an imaginary scapegoat.
Photo by Felix Montino.
As Nir Eyal at Harvard Business Review explains, “scapegoating” is the practice of imagining there’s some kind of villain that’s conspiring against you. For example, “the man”, “haters” and or even the more broad “they” can be scapegoats we use to blame for what’s holding us a back in life. It’s dangerous thinking with the wrong mindset, but it can be a super useful motivational tool if you approach it the right way. Eyal explains:
If we imagine a force working against us, we’re more likely to get fired up, resist our temptations, and work harder to achieve our goals. Of course, it’s actually just us against ourselves. But for the times when we don’t want to admit that, providing a clear enemy to rebel against — a “they” who doesn’t want you to leave that extra cookie on the plate or get back to writing that email — can help us summon the tenacity we need to succeed. Even if, in reality, that “they” resides in each of us.
If you tell yourself things like “they don’t want you to succeed” or “they expect you to fail”, you can motivate yourself to prove them wrong, even though they is really you. The entire article is worth a read, so check it out at the link below.
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Why You Need an Imaginary Scapegoat [Harvard Business Review]