The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business



Jul 20, 20234 min read


The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business

Motivation is a key factor in achieving success, whether it be in life or business. However, staying motivated can often be a challenge, especially when faced with difficult tasks or setbacks. In order to maintain motivation and reach your goals, it is important to understand the Goldilocks Rule and the concept of flow.

The Goldilocks Rule, as described by Martin, emphasizes the importance of working on tasks that are of "just manageable difficulty." This means that tasks should not be too hard, but also not too easy. Humans experience peak motivation when they are working on tasks that push them just beyond their current abilities. This helps to keep them engaged and motivated to continue making progress.

But motivation is not solely dependent on the difficulty of the task. It is also crucial to find a balance between hard work and happiness. This balance is often referred to as flow, which is a state of peak performance where individuals feel completely immersed and focused in what they are doing. Athletes and performers often experience this state when they are "in the zone." To reach this state of flow, it is important to not only work on challenging tasks, but also to measure your immediate progress.

Measuring progress is a key component of staying motivated. It allows individuals to see tangible results and provides a sense of accomplishment. By setting small, achievable goals and tracking your progress, you can stay motivated and continue working towards your larger goals. This process of setting challenges, measuring progress, and repeating the cycle helps to maintain motivation for the long run.

Now, let's shift our focus to the concept of cumulative advantage, also known as the Matthew effect. This concept explains how those who start with an advantage relative to others can retain that advantage over long periods of time. Winners keep winning, and this phenomenon is not limited to just a few individuals.

Take the example of Stephen King. He initially published some of his works under the pen name Richard Bachman. While Bachman's books sold reasonably well, it wasn't until it was revealed that Bachman was actually Stephen King that his books skyrocketed in sales. The same happened with J.K. Rowling when she published a book under the pen name Robert Galbraith. These instances highlight how starting conditions and social status play a significant role in long-term outcomes.

This idea is further supported by a simulation that demonstrates the impact of starting conditions on market share. Even with just a small initial advantage, the final market share increases significantly. This simulation emphasizes the importance of initial conditions and how they can have lasting effects over time.

However, it is important to note that while starting conditions may provide certain advantages, they do not solely determine success. Luck and happenstance also play a significant role in our lives. Accepting luck as a primary determinant in our lives can be a freeing perspective. It allows us to stop judging ourselves solely based on outcomes and instead focus on our efforts, which is the only thing we can control.

In conclusion, staying motivated in life and business is a combination of finding tasks that are of just manageable difficulty, measuring progress, and embracing the concept of flow. Additionally, understanding the impact of starting conditions and accepting the role of luck can help us maintain motivation and focus on our efforts. Here are three actionable pieces of advice to stay motivated:

1. Set small, achievable goals and track your progress. By breaking down larger goals into smaller milestones, you can maintain a sense of accomplishment and stay motivated.

2. Embrace challenges that push you slightly beyond your current abilities. Working on tasks that are neither too easy nor too hard will help you stay engaged and motivated.

3. Recognize the role of luck and happenstance in your life. Instead of solely focusing on outcomes, focus on your efforts and the things you can control. This mindset shift can free you from unnecessary judgment and keep you motivated in the face of challenges.

Remember, motivation is not a constant state but rather a skill that can be developed and nurtured. By understanding the Goldilocks Rule, embracing flow, and acknowledging the impact of starting conditions and luck, you can stay motivated and achieve your goals in life and business.


  1. "The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Business", (Glasp)
  2. "Why Winners Keep Winning – Of Dollars And Data", (Glasp)

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