The Secret To Staying Motivated And Achieving Your Goals

The Secret To Staying Motivated And Achieving Your Goals

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The Secret To Staying Motivated And Achieving Your Goals


Do you set yourself a target to lose weight but soon lose interest once the daily exercise regimen becomes a chore? A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business provides an intriguing insight into how we can all stay motivated to achieve targets we set ourselves.

Enjoyment is the key. That may seem obvious, but it’s the perception of enjoyment in the activity or task undertaken which plays a vital role. Professor Ayelet Fishbach and Booth PhD student Kaitlin Woolley looked at motivation in six different activities such as exercising, conducting lab experiments and even visiting the museum. The participants were then asked to assess the benefit or outcome of achieving a certain task (i.e. exercising to lose weight) and then assessing the experience itself (i.e. doing daily exercise).


They discovered that people actually heavily underestimate how important enjoyment is before and after doing an activity. People believe that the goal itself (such as losing weight) is enough motivation to complete an activity and they underestimate the influence that enjoyment of the task has in persisting with it. This means that people tend to regret selecting specific activities as they simply don’t enjoy them enough. You may be motivated to lose weight but if you don’t enjoy exercising as much as you expected, you quickly stop doing it.

The study also discovered that people’s assessment of experiencing an activity (like exercise) differs hugely depending on whether you are currently in the middle of the activity. Asked to evaluate the experience during the activity itself, participants valued it more highly than when asked before or after doing it. When asked about the outcome or goal of the activity (such as losing weight), people value it equally whether during or outside of doing the activity itself. So what should we take from this?

You may have a desired goal but if you don’t enjoy the activity or tasks required to achieve it, you are far less likely to persist with it over a long period of time. Fishbach explains:

“What people value when choosing might be different from what they value later on when pursuing these actions. And if what people care about changes, they may choose activities that they fail to follow through on or that they regret pursuing.”

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For employers, it is an intriguing finding as the study also followed a group of people to see if money would be a greater influence on persisting with task. The group were asked to evaluate sections of either a computer manual or joke book, and they would be rewarded financially for each completed task. What they found was that the level of enjoyment in the reading task – rather the amount of money offered – was the only influence on persistence.

So the secret to staying motivated to achieving any goal is to find a goal with an activity you enjoy. Going on a diet if you don’t enjoy the low calorie food you are eating will not last. You need to find healthy food that you enjoy for the diet to succeed. The same principle can be applied in any other aspect of your personal and professional life. iPerform has an entire level of videos dedicated to intrinsic motivation. Why not ask us for a free trial of our programme and app to discover more insights?



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