How to Get Hooked on Making an Effort - Deepstash
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The Link Between Effort and Performance

The Link Between Effort and Performance

It can be hard to disentangle whether effort is a cause or a consequence in a given situation. But we can look at effort through a feedback loop that looks like this:

Effort > performance > pleasure > motivation > effort.


5.29K reads

Effort-Consequence Instead of Effort-Cause

In reality, one’s ability to put in an effort typically arises as a consequence of something, not as a major cause.

  • To accomplish something, making an effort depends more on the right time and right place, rather than being the focal point.
  • It’s also a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: If we believe in our abilities to accomplish something, we are more motivated, then we perform better, which feeds our belief in our abilities, and so on and so forth, leading to an ongoing cycle of effort-as-a-consequence.
  • Exerting effort is not always something that we can do over long periods of time.


2.85K reads

Keeping Up the Good Work: Behavioral Loops and Pleasure

Keeping Up the Good Work: Behavioral Loops and Pleasure

The trick is to refrain from seeing effort as a cause or as a consequence, but rather as both. By seeing it this way, we can organize performance over the long term and generate an "addictive loop"—meaning a drive to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable by themselves.

This approach counters the tendency to overestimate our ability to both make an undesired effort as well as resist the temptation of alternative pleasurable activities. An addictive loop approach avoids those two obstacles by aiming for activities that generate pleasure—hence our desire to make an effort, hence more activities.


1.99K reads

Lessons for Leaders

Lessons for Leaders

The role of leaders is to put in place a system of efforts-as-consequences, generating a spiral where outcomes get bigger and better as time goes on.

  • Don’t neglect indirect activities that create pleasure, like giving feedback and offering training sessions.
  • Avoid a “no pain, no gain” mentality. 
  • Grant people autonomy. 
  • Leverage psychological drivers. For instance, the Pygmalion effect - people perform better just by feeling that their leader believes in them.
  • Orient discreetly through a gentle nudge. 
  • Use social validation. 


1.88K reads

Lessons for Individuals

Individuals can consciously organize themselves into performance-effort loops.

  • Build an identity. Our actions tend to align with how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. 
  • Make it a habit. Your brain is a creature of habit, and science has therefore identified habit formation as a key for success.
  • Be playful. Pleasure and play are linked—and if we frame something as a game, it can be more engaging and less depleting.
  • Break it down. If a large, long-term project is too overwhelming, break it into smaller tasks.


1.74K reads

Avoid Forced Effort

Avoid Forced Effort

Such extrinsic motivation schemes—where effort is forced by external rewards—have been shown to lead generally to undesirable outcomes.

While we can’t ignore them as short-term tactics, they only work in limited contexts, and only if properly inserted in a scheme balanced with intrinsic motivations.


2.01K reads



Bacon scholar. Avid reader of all things self help.


Viewing effort as part of a feedback loop could help us enjoy the process.


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