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

James Clear is well known for his bestseller ‘Atomic habits’, a goldmine of practical tips on how to replace bad habits with healthier ones and skyrocket not only our efficiency but also our fullfillment. In chapter 19 he talks about The Goldilocks Rule.

This principle states that “humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”

Think about learning that new language, that new painting tecnique or drawing subject, booking system or whichever task you’re tackling right now. To stay motivated and excited we need to be working at a level that is just slightly outside our grasp. You see it, you can almost taste it, but it’s just a few centimeters away. A bit like playing a videogame where you ALMOST clear that level. “Another one, this time I’ll get you!”.

This way the task is not too hard, which might demotivate you and make you feel inadequate, nor too easy, which will bore you pretty soon.

James Clear also says: “If you want to learn how to stay motivated to reach your goals, then there is a second piece of the motivation puzzle that is crucial to understand. It has to do with achieving that perfect blend of hard work and happiness.” He continues: “This is sometimes referred to as flow, which is what athletes and performers experience when they are “in the zone.” Flow is the mental state you experience when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away. In order to reach this state of peak performance, however, you not only need to work on challenges at the right degree of difficulty, but also measure your immediate progress.”

To get immediate feedback at each step is key to reinforce our belief in our practice and self-confidence in our skills. Under a more practical point of view it’s a way to learn what we can do different to improve performance, while staying focused.

Our brains and egos are very good at amplifying our shortcomings, let’s also implement a system of small rewards to see our wins then, to balance it out.

In James’ words: “Wanting to improve your life is easy. Sticking with it is a different story. If you want to stay motivated for good, then start with a challenge that is just manageable, measure your progress, and repeat the process.”


Drawing dragons: basics

Dragons are possibly one of the most complicated subjects to draw (well) and also a virtually infinite source of creative solutions. This is because it requires mastering different elements: structure, gesture, anatomy, specific knowledge of style and traditional elements. It’s something that requires a thorough study and disciplined practiced. As I often recommend, one of the best ways to learn is to get to work alongside people that are very good at it, nothing beats direct experience on the field. This tho should be paired with your own practice, mindful practice (aka focused effort). Finding the right material is often what makes the difference between success and failure.

A good place to start

Erik Rieth is the owner and founder of Ghost in the Machine Tattoo and has been tattooing since 1992. With an awareness and respect for tradition Erik continues to evolve his unique contemporary style primarily in Americana and Japanese tattoos.

To help with the learning process Erik has produced a great book, very practical, on the basics of drawing dragons. Distributed worldwide by different suppliers it’s a must have if you are looking for an accessible reference on this topic.