Monday, May 12, 2008

Stop Smoking:The Carrot or The Stick Approach

The Carrot or The Stick Approach

Jim couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath. He wanted to quit smoking because his doctor said that his breathing would improve if he quit smoking (the carrot). Within a very short period of time after quitting, Jim could see a dramatic improvement in his breathing. He was very excited and happy with his condition. He called me nine months later and said that he wanted to go back to smoking because his doctor said his lungs were damaged from smoking and his lungs were as good as they were going to get. His doctor told him that if he started smoking again, that within six months, Jim would be carting an oxygen tank (the stick).

Two factors motivate us to do anything in life, we pursue things that please us (the carrot) or we seek to avoid physical or psychological pain (the stick). Often the carrot or the stick can be opposite sides of the same coin but one side is more motivating than the other.

At first Jim was motivated by the carrot, better breathing and later when the carrot was no longer available the stick or having his breathing become worse, was not as motivating and Jim started smoking again. For Jim, his motivation was a carrot, not a stick.

But instead of finding out what is motivating to the smoker, we tell them what would motivate us. You need to listen to the smoker to find out what carrot or what stick motivates them and then build upon that motivation which plants the seed of desire. Until this happens, the smoker is unlikely to change.

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