January 4, 2023

The Goldilocks Rule

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 difficult. Not too easy. Just right. If you hit the Goldilocks Zone just right, you can achieve a flow state.

Yerkes-Dodsen Law describes the optimal level of flow state as the midpoint between boredom and anxiety. To achieve flow state, a task must be roughly 4% beyond your current ability.

Behaviours need to remain new and challenging for them to stay attractive for us to push ourselves in the flow state. Without variety, we get bored. And boredom is the greatest villain on the quest for self-improvement.

Really successful people and athletes feel the same lack of motivation everyday like the rest of us do. The difference is that they find a way to show up despite the feeling of boredom. The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. Once we get into a routine, we run the risk of being bored because they stop delighting us, and become ordinary. Professional stick to the schedule despite boredom and feeling like quitting. The only way to become excellent is to fall in love with boredom.


  • Atomic Habits (James Clear), Chapter 19: The Goldilocks Rule: How to Stay Motivated in Life and Work