People often 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.
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 as a way to place 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 it like this:
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, the force working against us is actually just us against working against ourselves--that extra motivation many of us need to light that fire. But for the times when we don’t want to admit to that way of thinking, it can help us summon the strength and tenacity we sometimes need in order to succeed. Giving it a name provides a clear enemy in order to have someone rebel against. A "they" who doesn't want you to leave that extra cookie on the plate instead of in your mouth. A "they" who doesn't want you to get back to writing that email. Even if, in real life, that "they" is something which resides within ourselves.
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 imaginary scapegoat can be a powerful force that can help you reach your goals, no matter what they are.
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