Having a hard time motivating yourself? Try this

Don’t focus on the end goal.

Yup you read that right.

Researchers Fishbach & Choi  discovered that while focusing on the end result of our goal is useful in getting started with that goal, it does not help you make a change, nor stick to it.  In fact, they found that the more you focused on that end result, the less you actually adhered to the activity that relates to your goal in the first place!  This held true in many instances:  creating origami, exercising on a treadmill, performing yoga, and flossing.  In all instances, when people pursued the activity for the sake of the activity itself, adherence to the activity was much better than when the activity was pursued simply as a means to an end.

Instead they say that you should focus on the intrinsic value of the activity you’re doing right in the moment, rather than the long term benefit of that activity.


  • liking how clean your teeth feel after flossing immediately, rather than preventing tooth decay in the future
  • the high immediately after a good workout, or focusing on how strong you feel during your workout, rather than losing a large amount of weight
  • drawing because you like drawing, rather than because you’re being paid to draw (study was done on this)
  • making pottery because you like the act of it, rather than for the purpose of having a nice piece of art at the end
  • feeling like a boss getting something 50% 0ff, or saving your money and paying yourself first the way you deserve, rather than paying off many thousands of credit card debt in the future

So – my takeaway is to look for the positive aspects of your journey to your goal, and refocus on those as often as you can, and you should see, research shows, improved adherence to your behavior change, and therefore, be statistically more likely to meet your goal!

For me – I have been really struggling sort of to stick to my workout goals.  I am doing pretty well but I am using a lot of willpower lately to get to the gym.  But lately I’m focusing on how I feel when I’m working out regularly (that workout high) and how I feel when I’m noticing I can lift more weight than last time (awesome!) and how I feel after I’ve completed a tough HIIT workout (like I can outrun a horde of zombies, hells yeah!).  It helps, it really does.  The abstract goal of “gain muscle, lose fat” isn’t helping me near as much when it’s 20 degrees outside and I don’t feel like going to the gym.  But I notice how I feel when I don’t go, and how I feel when I do go, and lately, that’s been instrumental in helping me stick to it.

Perhaps it really is all about the journey… so let’s make it a fun one 🙂  What about your journey?  How can we think about it to make it more fun in the moment?  Let me know, or ask me if you need help in the comments, and I’ll put my brain on it too 🙂

Hope that’s news you can use 😉

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