The road to success is almost always long and winding.
Many of the great online ideas, products, books, movies, singers – you name it – have overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles along the way.
So, how do you stick with your dreams and keep the motivation up?
Respected author and motivational speaker James Clear, who specialises in helping people from all walks of life snap out of a rut, reckons he has a simple answer.
All we need to do is follow one gold rule, one he calls The Goldilocks Rule on his blog.
“Scientists have been studying motivation for decades. While there is still much to learn, one of the most consistent findings is that perhaps the best way to stay motivated is to work on tasks of ‘just manageable difficulty,'” he explains, offering tennis as an example.
Play against a four-year-old and you’ll quickly grow bored. Play against Andy Murray and you’ll just as quickly become discouraged. You need an opponent that’s just a bit better than you.
“We can call this phenomenon The Goldilocks Rule,” he says. “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.”
Not only will finding this difficulty sweet spot keep you motivated, it’ll also make you happier.
James quotes psychologist Gilbert Brim to back up this point.
“One of the important sources of human happiness is working on tasks at a suitable level of difficulty, neither too hard nor too easy.”
So how do you apply this in your real life?
It all depends on the domain you’re in, or where you’re feeling like you’re treading water.
If you want to get fitter, it means finding workouts that challenge but don’t exhaust you.
If you’re hoping to start a world-beating business, it entails finding ways to push yourself to acquire the sales and business skills you’ll need bit by bit.
But no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, James offers one more sage tip on how to put the Goldilocks Rule into action.
“In order to reach this state of peak performance, however, you not only need to work on challenges at the right degree of difficulty, but also measure your immediate progress,” he adds.
“The human brain needs some way to visualise our progress if we are to maintain motivation.
“We need to be able to see our wins.”