Do you agree that some people are just more motivated than others? Some people jump out of bed, crush the mornings and win the day.

Others sleep in, hit snooze and simply go through the motions of life. While it’s easy to think that some people are born with more motivation than others, it’s just not true.

The human brain loves a challenge and some people routinely flex their brain with challenges. But the brain only likes a challenge if the difficulty isn’t too much out of your comfort zone. Here’s why: 

The Science of Motivation

Motivation is a weird thing. It comes, it goes, and sometimes never arrives when you need it most. But you can use the Goldilocks Rule to find it when you need it most.

For example, let’s say you love playing golf. If you’re an experienced player and you’re playing against a beginner, you’ll get bored from the lack of competition quickly.

But if you play against Tiger Woods you’ll lose motivation as you’re most likely losing by a huge margin. The trick is to find something in the middle. You need to play against someone who is close to you in ability levels you’ll have a good chance to win.

You will find that your brain is trying hard to help you win, it enjoys the challenge as much as you do. You’ll find yourself focusing more and being 100% invested in the outcome.


What is the Goldilocks Rule?

This golf example is a challenge that is just manageable enough with the difficulty level and a perfect example for the Goldilocks Rule.

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience the most motivation when working on tasks that are on the edge of their current abilities. These tasks or events aren’t too hard or too easy but a perfect balance.

How The Goldilocks Rule Can Make You Perform at a Higher Level

Working on a big project or goal might feel intimidating at first. In fact, it might be such an outrageous goal that you want to quit before you even begin. I know because I’m talking from experience here as well.

Not only do you need to manage the difficulty level and try to slightly increase your skills each time, but you also need to measure your progress. This looks different depending on your goal but you need a blend of motivation and happiness to have the drive to keep going.

For example, if you’re an athlete, you get instant feedback when you are competing. If you make the shot or score a goal, the crowd cheers. And if you miss the shot or goal, the crowd boos or gasps. This instant feedback helps your brain understand progress.

If you want to perform at a higher level you need to measure your progress. Whether it’s tracking on an excel sheet, creating a graph or some other methods. Try to give your brain a visual representation of how you’re doing.

Ambiguity doesn’t help the brain. As Jack Canfield said, “Vague goals produce vague results.”


What To Do Next

If you’re coming up on an end of year goal or project in business or life, use these two steps. Stick to the Goldilocks Rule and do the tasks that are uncomfortable and will help you grow, but not too uncomfortable.

And make sure to measure and track your progress. As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.”

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