The Don't Quit Podcast

Finding Your Goldilocks

Back in 1955, a small boy asked for a job when we walked in the newly opened place called Disneyland. The labor laws weren’t as strict back then so they hired him to sell guidebooks to tourists.

Over the course of a year, he moved into the Disney’s magic shop and was mentored by the older employees. The boy would practice stand up comedy and magic tricks during that time. He just loved to perform and wanted to make a career out of it.

Once he was in high school, he started performing around the small clubs in Los Angeles. His performances were short and the people who saw him were in small numbers. There was even a time he even performed when no one was there.

The work wasn’t as fun as he thought, but was improving. His magic plays were only a few minutes long. After high school his time expanded to 5-10 minutes. Shortly he was doing 20 minutes.

He was improving.

He spent an entire decade experimenting and practicing his acts. He was a writer for a television show and was able to then get his own appearances on that show.

in 1975, he was now a guest on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live

It took 15 years for him to reach that success. Touring over 60 cities in 2 months. He would perform in sold out crowds for 20,000 people in New York.

He was recognized as one of the great comedians of all time.

That little boy who started in Disneyland and through out the entertainment industry was Steve Martin.

**This is Steve Martin’s Journey of Success**

Being a comedian is not for everyone. There’s so much fear in trying to make people laugh and in smile thats hard to believe something so positive can lead to a lot of negative emotions.

Martin spent 18 years into it. He said it took him 10 years to learn it, 4 years to refine it, and then 4 more years to master it. His story has a lot of motivation, perseverance, and positive outlook to happen.

Why do some feel motivated to accomplish their goals while others don’t? Why do some say they want to have something but then a few days later say they don’t? What’s the difference between those who have the ability to stay motivated versus those who don’t?

While scientists have been asking this question for centuries, there is still so much that hasn’t been discovered yet. The most signifiant discovery is to work on things that are in a difficulty that is doable.

The Goldilocks Rule

People love challenges. It’s in video games, sports, and board games. The thing is though, it’s all in the ability to reach accomplishment.

Imagine you’re playing golf. If you want a challenge, you wouldn’t be playing against a kindergartener because it’ll just be too easy. On the other hand you wouldn’t want to play against Tiger Woods because it’ll be too difficult to stand a chance. There just wouldn’t be a positive reinforcement to continue.

Now think about playing golf with a person who’s on equal skill level as you. You may lose or win but you’ll always have a chance to win if you try. The reason being is the task to win this game is definable and within reach.

Sure, you may not win despite doing your best, but there’s always a chance. This is what scientists have found to help keep motivation to happen.

Tasks that are below our skill level are boring. Tasks that go well above what we think we can do is too overwhelming. But the tasks that are just challenging and manageable are the ones that keep us going. We want to push further but only to a reasonable amount.

This is what referred to as The Goldilocks Rule. Which is the ability to work on tasks that are just on the edge of difficulty of our current ability. Not too difficult. But not to easy either. Just right.

Steve Martin is an example of The Goldilocks Rule looks like in a real setting. Every year his stage time expanded, did more complex tricks, and adding new material. He just had enough success to keep him going despite any mishaps on the way.

Keep an Eye on Your Progress


There’s actually a second reason that helps motivation that is helpful to know. It involves happiness with hard work.

Working on challenges that are just a slightly above your reach is what makes people feel more content about their lives. It’s as if it answers the age old question about the meaning of life.

This also leads a to a flow much like how athletes get when they start performing well. “Don’t let me get in my zone” as Kanye would say it.

It’s not just getting into a flow though, it’s also about knowing the results as you progress in your task. It’s best to have immediate feedback for each step so you know you’re heading the right direction to stay being motivated for the finish.

The ability to see progress is motivating in itself. Steve Martin was able to tell by the reaction of the audience about his jokes. It must have been such a positive feedback for him to see people in joy for what he did. That’s the inspiring push we need to improve and continue.

In other tasks, this looks different but it’s all in a combination of happiness and motivating drive. In golf, you get feedback when you make the hole-in-one. Regardless, the human mind needs to visualize progress to maintain motivation.

Two Steps to Motivation


So the mystery is how to stay motivated long enough to succeed?:

Find your Goldilocks area in attainable tasks that are just above your reach.

Measure progress to get that feedback you need to keep going.

It’s easy to say how to improve your life, but actually making it happen is another problem. So if you want to clear goals and obtain success, do what’s possible, record the results, and repeat.

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