Contrary to the typical “eyes on the prize” approach to achieving your goals, a groundbreaking new study suggests that when setting them, you need to focus on the efforts required — not the rewards.
There are two stages when it comes to reaching a goal: First comes choosing the goal — a stage when you’re motivated by the rewards.
Then comes actually doing the work, where you perform the necessary activities. In this long latter stage, you’re focused on the difficulty of your efforts — and it’s this doing part that tends to demotivate people and eventually drop it altogether.
The problem is that our minds are unable to perceive huge discrepancies between rewards and the amount of effort required to reach them, often leading to unrealistic expectations.
The key to overcoming this mental glitch is to be mentally aware of the effort your goal will take when setting out to achieve it, rather than focus on the reward. And, only when you’re in the middle of the effort, you should attempt to give yourself a boost by thinking about the shiny prize at the end.