Your Carrot on a String

posted in: Uncategorized | 31

May 19th, 2011


The carrot dangling on a string tied to a stick is an age old metaphor that despite it’s disputed origins, still conjures up the right image.


We all have a carrot or two dangling in front of us. Is it your job? The promise or hope of a promotion? Is it your relationship? The promise or hope of the ‘next step’. Is it your living situation? Waiting to move into that bigger place or better neighborhood Or your next paycheck? Those boss that feeds you exactly what you need to hear to keep you working hard and hoping for the next big break.


But dangling carrots are meant to keep you staying on someone else’s path. These hoped-for incentives may be just the thing to keep you going.Β  I’m not so sure we should believe in these carrots. I’m starting to see that I need to recognize these carrots in my own life. And once they are identified, I must cut the string.


No more dangling carrots to give me false hopes. Life is creating the best opportunities. I can’t keep chasing carrots for all my days. And you shouldn’t either. I’m going to focus on cutting the string.



31 Responses

  1. This is a huge reminder!!! Like you said, we allow our jobs to take us down their own path. If we can gain a broader perspective of where we want to go, then we can use our jobs to get us there. This totally shifts our own power. We are now in control, and we are deciding our own future.

    • I think the days are gone when we have company loyalty for 30 years. Everything is so flexible now. We are living in the best time in human history, so we ought to take advantage of that. The power can be ours, or it can be elsewhere. And you’re right, we are deciding our own future. No more carrot chasing.

  2. Very true for young people and older people who would be young. Finding the anima–that internal animating power…we get this Holy Wow! And this is far better than any external motivator–carrot, gold bar, chocolate bar, friendly noogie…

    That said, I do love friendly noogies.

    • Friendly noogies are one thing, almost always acceptable. I like the use of anima. Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation. It sure is much more rewarding to live a life based on the terms you set and the goals you allow yourself. I’m growing deeply fatigued over letting my life blood (time and passion) let others get rich. It’s serious time for a life re-focus.

  3. Annie Andre

    SNIP SNIP. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think most people don’t realize that they are chasing carrots. And others are stricken from fear to cut that carrot.

    I just had a conversation with my friend who wants the carrot of job security but she hates her job. She dreads her job. Yet she endures it because of the fear of losing the security that this job gives her. I understand it but it’s mind boggling at the same time to let fear rule our destiny..

    • The people that don’t realize they are chasing carrots may not even care. But once you realize the carrots in your life, it can be really frustrating. I’m noticing that with my job and how it’s even impacting my relationships. I work at a university and while the field is my interest, my day to day tasks are only half interesting to me.

      But the job security is a terrible thing to chase. Convince your friend to wildly obsess over her passions and drop that dreaded job. Life is too short for cheap crappy wine and bland chocolate.

      • annie andre

        i like that “life is too short for cheap crappy wine and bland chocolate”. Tofu chocolate tastes really really bad by the way. YUCK. Only the real deal please!

        • That’s why it’s all about the dark chocolate and a delicious cab sav. I’d give the tofu chocolate a try, but nothing like the real deal πŸ™‚

          • annie andre

            Ok, i’m getting you some Tofu chocolate for Christmas. I want proof that you eat it..

          • David

            Done and done! I’ll never deny any chocolate! Of course, I can’t say I’m thrilled about the prospect… πŸ™‚

  4. Hmmmm…this really did get me thinking. I have some strings to cut too. Or maybe just break the stick holding it out there.

    I am ready for a life revolution, I think…

    • Break the stick! I like that. Also Liane, I am damn certain you are ready for a life revolution. If anything, you’re already doing it!

  5. Thanks for the continuing inspiration. We all need more wisdom like this in our lives.

  6. Time to do some snipping. You inspire me everyday to live a life out of the ordinary so I feel like when I met you I already did some cutting of carrots. Thanks for continuing to inspire me. I promise to support you during your snipping too. Time to get the machete out…. I mean the scissors.

    • I think for some of these I will need a machete!

      Thanks for being my consistent support Meg πŸ™‚

  7. Todd | Channelingmyself

    What a great analogy David. I’m going to reevaluate my life and start cutting those strings.

    • Thanks Todd. It only came to me when I realized my own boss hangs a carrot over my own head. Not the best feeling…

  8. Baker Lawley

    Three cheers for this one! The thing about the carrot on the string is that you never catch it, either. It’s a false reward, a trick. The only way to get what is really rewarding is to cut the string and follow our own path. Love this image to help me rethink what paths I’m going down as I try for that.

    Snip, snip!

    • Thanks Baker. I hope this resonates with people. After thinking about this carrot business, I’ve realized that there are a lot in my life. And I’m just chasing after them fully knowing I will never get them. Or I’ll never really get that satisfaction. Now I want to focus on what I can accomplish, and do just that on my own.

    • A “trick” indeed! We become nothing more than a sappy mark for a con man working his own private agenda.

  9. Philipp Knoll

    Hey David,

    This is a powerful post. Short and to the point. You are very right about the carrot metaphor. I have not thought about this that way for a long time but will keep an eye open to identify my carrots.

    I believe that without knowing I could eliminate some of those already. The last 1-2 years were all about eliminating fear and to stop going after the wrong goals – goals that were set for me instead of intentionally chosen by myself.

    Thanks, I loved the reminder!

    • The elimination of fear can unfortunately be a foggy concept. To really challenge our own fears, we have to be real with ourselves. And that may mean admitting your job is awful, your relationship is doomed, etc.

      But you are absolutely right that smashing fear will change the direction of our goals. That alignment will give the optimal results for a satisfied life!

  10. raverture @ personalized wedding favors

    Hi there,

    We have our own dispositions in life. We might encounter a lot of predicaments and pitfalls in life but it doesn’t mean that we will leave ourselves there. We should live life at its best.

    • Agreed. This is exactly why I want to keep moving forward, and not on the terms of my boss or anyone else.

  11. Paul @ Local Honcho

    You don’t have to cut the string, you have to grab the carrot! lol! When you see an opportunity in front of you, don’t let it slip away but keep in mind to focus more on feasible opportunities. It’s not wrong to dream as long as you know how to reach them.

    • Agreed. I’ll quote the great poet Jack Johnson ‘Don’t let dreams be dreams’. Can’t say it any simpler.

  12. my bosses have good ways of dangling carrots in front of me. i cant waste more of my time just chasing after these things. in time, i will control the carrots!

    • Chris, I wish you the best of luck! Be sure to stay encouraged, as most carrot-danglers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.

  13. […] weeks notice. So on 5pm September 16th, 2011 I will be without traditional employment. I cut the strings. I’ve got plans for long term […]

  14. I left work today nearly on the verge of tears and didn’t understand why. The day began with the usual negatively yipping Chihuahua I share a desk with followed by a brief meeting with my boss to discuss the “carrot”. This was the 3rd or 4th carrot he’s dangled in the last 2 months. It seems the latest carrot is being put into storage while some other things are put into alignment. I realized this evening that I’ve been duped, that my boss has discovered that which motivates me and he’s using it to keep me performing at maximum level. While I can understand a boss wanted to maximize his employees potential, dangling carrots is nothing more than a con, perpetrated by unethical puppet masters. Now, knowing myself well enough to understand that once I become stagnant at work the disdain for my job will set in and life will become somewhat miserable since I spend 60+ hours a week at work! I think therefore, I need and exit strategy. Anyone know of a good book on exit strategies?

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