What Is the Goldilocks Rule?
Learning how to stay motivated means designing habits that draw you in, rather than repel you. One of the best-known strategies for keeping behaviors interesting is working at a level of just manageable difficulty. This idea is referred to as the Goldilocks Rule, which states that degrees of difficulty must be just right to attain peak motivation.

You must start a new behavior by making it easy. Making a new behavior easy to perform and maintain is necessary and helps you stay focused even when motivation is challenged. But once a behavior has reached the habit line, you must increase the boundary of difficulty in small increments to keep it challenging.

If a behavior is just challenging enough, you will be more interested in sticking with it. Hitting the “just right” zone of difficulty is what creates the flow state, wherein you are fully engaged in the behavior or activity. A 4% increase in difficulty above your current abilities or behaviors is required to reach the flow state.

  • Imagine playing with a new tennis partner equal in skill level. You play for months, and you start to naturally progress beyond your current abilities.
  • If your partner doesn’t progress at the same rate, you will soon beat them easily and lose interest.
  • If you find a new partner who is slightly better than your new level, you will be more engaged when you play because you are being challenged more.
  • You will eventually progress to the new level and so on as you continue to play better opponents.

Improvement requires a balance between pushing beyond status quo to stay challenged and keeping the level of challenge at a point that still allows for satisfying results.

“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.” ( James Clear- atomic habbit)


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