Goldilocks Rule: Keeping yourself motivated

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Often times we blame our willpower or motivation whenever we failed to take action. We always think that the lack of motivation is the main reason why we are not taking any action towards our goal. And whenever we tried to take action our mind starts to reason out and tell to ourselves that we can just do it “tomorrow” and that’s where procrastination comes in.

We may not noticed it but often times, the main reason why we procrastinate in doing something is mainly because what must be done is too boring (no challenge at all) or too difficult (overwhelming to the point that your brain suddenly changes to defense mode).

This can be best explained by the Goldilocks Rule.


As quoted from James Clear:

The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.

The Goldilocks Rule determines that identifying task that has optimal difficulty allows us to be more motivated to do it. Rather than doing something that is way more difficult or way easier for us.

James has also gave a concrete example for this case:

“…If you love tennis and try to play a serious match against a four-year-old, you will quickly become bored. It’s too easy. You’ll win every point. In contrast, if you play a professional tennis player like Roger Federer or Serena Williams, you will quickly lose motivation because the match is too difficult.

Now consider playing tennis against someone who is your equal. As the game progresses, you win a few points and you lose a few. You have a good chance of winning, but only if you really try. Your focus narrows, distractions fade away, and you find yourself fully invested in the task at hand. This is a challenge of just manageable difficulty and it is a prime example of the Goldilocks Rule.

The Goldilocks Rule helps us identify that it would help us to be more motivated in doing certain task if we can focus on doing those task that are considered “Just right”, neither too easy nor not too difficult for you.

Before we deep dive on how we can use Goldilocks Rule to help us be more motivated, let us first understand the common problems we encountered whenever we feel like we lack the motivation.


  1. Motivation is needed to start something

The most common problem that people has in terms of motivation is how they perceive motivation and action. We usually think that motivation is necessary to take action, however the truth is it is the other way around. It is your action that feeds your motivation.

Try this, whenever you feel not doing the task that needs to be done, start doing the simplest task and once you completed the simple task, it will be easier for you do the task that you initially procrastinating on.

2. We often experience procrastination and constant delay of task

We often delay stuff that needs to be done, we often think “tomorrow, I’ll do this” until the time comes that you don’t have enough time to actually do it but just have no other choice but to do it (the “Crunch time”). We usually encounter this in terms of huge projects that has massive tasks that needs to be done before it can be completed, we usually take it for granted early and ended up too stress in end.

The overwhelming size of the task, hinders you from taking action thus resulting to procrastination.

3. Unproductivity and spending more hours than what it should be

Whenever we feel bored with what we are doing, we usually consume a lot of time than the actual work itself. This is common with task that we considered trivial and easy. Due to the nature of the task as being trivial, our motivation plummets and also our focus decline resulting to unproductivity and spending more hours on the tasks.

4. Unfocus and lack of creativity

Both “too difficult” and “too trivial task” can affect your creativity. Both feeling of boredom and overwhelmed destroys your focus that prevents you from completing the task. Your creativity peaks whenever you are at flow and focus on what you are doing.


  1. Helps you identify task that can be broken down to smaller tasks

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”

The most crucial part of productivity is knowing what needs to be done. By logically understanding which task are too overwhelming or too trivial allows you to identify which are crucial and should be broken down or should be delegated.

It will significantly increase your productivity as you are more aware of the task that you can manage.

2. This gives you momentum and measurable progress

“Effort increases action. Action creates momentum. Momentum creates success.”

It often considered a snowball effect that whenever you see yourself progressing, you become more motivated, thus you take more action. Identifying task that can be completed and challenging to you allows you to see progress while working on it.

Such momentum is crucial especially for big projects that you are working on to avoid any procrastination.

3. Leads to focus and increases your productivity

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”

Challenging task are often the ones that pushes us to be more focus which then result to increase in your productivity. Knowing the right task allows you to significantly increase your focus and complete more critical task than by just doing the trivial ones

4. Increases motivation and willpower to do more

I never worry about action, but only inaction

Similar with above, that more you take action, the more you feel motivated the more you it is easier for your to continue completing the task. The good thing about knowing the right tasks automatically peaks your motivation and push you to do more.


There is nothing more fulfilling than doing the things that makes you more motivated. Understanding which task pushes you to your limits and at the same does not compromise your growth can significantly impact how you live your life. Do things that challenges you and you will see each day differently.

3 replies on “Goldilocks Rule: Keeping yourself motivated”

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