Have you heard of the “Goldilocks rule”?

Photo credit - Morgan Sessions via unsplash.com

Photo credit – Morgan Sessions via unsplash.com

Goldilocks was the little girl who tried the seats, the porridge and the beds discovering the one that was just right! Well now you can apply that to things YOU do in work and life. It is a principle for motivation.

The Goldilocks rule of motivation

“Not too hard, not too easy, just right. Just enough victories to keep you motivated and just enough mistakes to keep you working hard.”

How does it work?
Motivation has been a subject of study by scientists for decades. A consistent finding suggests that the best way to stay motivated is to work on tasks of “just manageable difficulty.”

My take on that
You need to have enough of a stretch target to keep striving, but it needs to be sufficiently attainable to be believed, and accepted as a credible goal. We all like challenges, and the stimulation that comes from striving to achieve them and the enjoyment of the accomplishment. We know that when you achieve something or learn something, your brain releases dopamine – it gives you a rush – that “aha” moment. We like that. We want to repeat that, but for it to be significant it has to be real. Authentic. Real learning. Real achievement.

The “how to” of using the Goldilocks rule

  1. Avoid working on things that are too easy for you to do. You can outsource them, delegate them, or automate them.

  2. Avoid working on things that are too hard for you. The extra effort is not worth the loss of motivation you feel whenever you fail.

  3. Work on tasks of a suitable level of difficulty and measure your progress. Get immediate feedback about how you are doing at each step. Seeing yourself make progress in the moment is incredibly motivating.

Keep it loose
Keeping the”just right” and “not too heavy, not too light” approach is valid in other ways. By not getting tied up in the achievement of non-attainable goals, we stay relaxed. We do our best when we are relaxed. We see things clearly. We learn accidentally, naturally. Things occur to us. “Aha”!

The perpetual search for balance
The real challenge is not getting caught up in something that is too hard. Keeping the right balance of commitment and effort is like dancing on the edges – keeping to the boundaries is important. Remembering the overall outcome you aspire to is your guiding principle.

What do you think of the Goldilocks principle?

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