Do You Want The Thing or The Feeling You Believe The Thing Will Provide?

Craig Stanland
3 min readSep 23, 2022

Before prison, I chased a lot of carrots on sticks:

  • Job Title
  • Financial Targets
  • Materialistic Possessions

A carrot on a stick is always in view and always out of reach.

The list above does not appear to be carrots on sticks; each one of these is tangible and achievable.

I became a Senior Enterprise Account Executive.

I earned the various financial targets I set for myself.

I owned a lot of what I was after — the cars, the watches, the clothes.

So why am I calling them carrots on sticks?

Because I was chasing the feeling I thought each of these carrots would produce.

I believed the story I made up around the carrot.

And when I actually grabbed the carrot, I felt that feeling, and it felt amazing.

Until it faded and a new carrot appeared.

The next promotion

An extra 50k per year

Panerai (the watches I collected) came out with a new model? I had to have it.

I wasn’t chasing the carrots.

I was chasing the feeling, and nothing external would ever fill what I thought I needed.

I was on the golden treadmill experiencing short-term hit after short-term hit.

But it wasn’t until I blew it all up and went deep on a journey of self-discovery did I understand something that changed the way I look at goals:

I’m the one holding the stick.

Whatever goal I set for myself, I want the feeling I believe that goal will give me. I want the story I’ve made up around the goal.

And here’s the thing: If it’s a feeling I’m after, I can feel that right now.

Let’s say I believe my goal of “X” will bring me joy. There are lots of ways I can experience joy right now, including:

Making progress towards the goal.

Focusing on the process, not the outcome.

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.