Of all the reasons there are for not achieving a goal, the biggest reason, it seems, is not wanting it enough.
According to research, when you are excited about a goal, the structure of your brain literally changes to help you achieve it. Your brain causes you to see obstacles as less potent, making them less likely to stop you.
Desire is the most important factor in goal achievement.
But not the only one.
According to studies reported in the Psychological Bulletin, the more difficult the goal, the better we tend to perform:
In 90% of the studies, specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than easy goals, “do your best” goals, or no goals. Goals affect performance by directing attention, mobilizing effort, increasing persistence, and motivating strategy development. Goal setting is most likely to improve task performance when the goals are specific and sufficiently challenging.
A paradox? On the one hand, we’re told that strong desire causes us to downgrade the potency of obstacles, making it more likely we will achieve the goal; on the other hand, we’re told that the more obstacles there are, ie., the more challenging the goal, the more likely we are to achieve it.
I’m not sure what to make of this.
All I know is, the more excited I am about a goal, the more likely I am to keep working on it until I achieve it.
And when I’m not excited about a goal, it doesn’t take much for me to lose interest, slow down, or abandon it.
I also know that I like (and stick with) goals that are not too difficult or too easy.
I guess we could call this the Goldilocks approach to goal setting.