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Researchers Explain Why Motivation Comes and Goes

Update Date: Jan 06, 2013 03:17 AM EST

We have tried a hundred times to quit smoking, or cut down on sugar, or turn into a vegan or build up six packs. But even though we start with a bang, somewhere half way, we feel the determination diminishing and slowly vanishing away. Once a person is reaching the end, it is easier to push oneself to finish the task faster. But when a person is right in the middle of achieving something is when it is the most difficult to motivate oneself, since the beginning and the end both seem to be really far away.

A new study by researchers from Stern School of Business assistant marketing professor Andrea Bonezzi suggests that this kind of loss of motivation in the middle of reaching a goal is a common and predictable pattern.

In the study titled "Stuck in the Middle: The Psychophysics of Goal Pursuit", Bonezzi and co-authors C. Miguel Brendl and Matteo De Angelis reveal that once people lose their motivation to achieve goals in the middle of achieving a task, they do not pick it up again until they have neared the end.

The motivation fades away because when the initial and the end state seem distant; this creates the impression that the effort expended is not paying off, Medical Xpress reports.

"Reading 10 additional pages when only 20 are left also seems worth doing," he adds. "But roughly halfway toward the goal, when both the initial state and the end state are distant, reading the same 10 additional pages does not seem to get us anywhere. As a consequence, we might lose motivation to keep working toward that goal."

The findings of the current study can be used by organizations which want to create timely programs for their employees to be encouraged and motivated to reach organizational goals.

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