Early research on goal-setting found that there is... - Deepstash

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  • Early research on goal-setting found that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between difficulty and performance.
  • This means that easy goals lead to weak efforts, but so do goals that are too hard.
  • The key factor here seems to be that goals need to be challenging, but also believable to be effective. If you don’t think you can actually reach a goal, you won’t.

Thus the best goals to set are those that demand effort from you, but you’re confident you can achieve if you put in the effort.




Much of the stress and disillusionment people experience with goals comes from setting ones that aren’t truly their own.

  • Why do we procrastinate? The common perception is that procrastination is caused by perfectionism.
  • People who need to do everything perfectly waste time getting started.
  • One difficulty with setting goals is that our motivational hardwiring doesn’t cope well with the future.

  • A common suggestion for goal-setting is to visualize success. But visualizing failure might work even better.

For goal-setting to be life-affirming, the goals pursued have to feel deeply meaningful to you.

In addition to implementation intentions, Gollwitzer also studied the effects of telling people about the goals you want to achieve.

A significant exception to the power of specific, challenging goals involves creative problem-solving. In tasks that require complex thinking, such as learning, problem-solving or creative work, goal-setting can back...

  • How do we build motivation to pursue our goals? Psychologist Albert Bandura developed the concept of self-efficacy to explain why some people eagerly face challenges while others shrink. If you don’t feel you’ll be successful, why bot...

For over four decades, psychologist Edwin Locke has been central in research on goal-setting. His research has three consistent findings :

  • Setting goals can transform your life. Goals can help you get in shape, improve your finances, learn a new language, or finally launch that business.
  • But goal-setting can also leave you miserable. Burnout, stress and disillusionment are high on the list of potential side effects.

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