Motivation and emotion/Book/2020/Giving up goals

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Giving up goals:
When should we give up goals and when should we persist?

Overview[edit | edit source]

" Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching and striving for his goals.


In this book chapter, you will learn about the definition of giving up goals, theory associated with giving up goals, types of motivation, why people give up their goals and why people should persist.

Focus questions:

  • What is the definition of giving up goals?
  • Motivation and goals?
  • When should people give up on goals?
  • When should people persist with goals?

Giving up goals[edit | edit source]

Giving up goals means withdrawal of hard work or effort and commitment. Giving up goals does not occur abruptly, [grammar?] normally people are confused and faced with constant blocked [grammar?] of their goals (Bradstatter & Schuler, 2013). Disengagement of goals or giving up goals is not a loss or win matter. Before people contemplate the idea of giving up their goals, a great deal of hard work was invested into their goals. It is worth mentioning that very little research has be done in this typic.

Action crisis [grammar?] emerge because people put much effort into their goals, but lose the basic purpose of the goal. Therefore, people find themselves contemplating to either give up their goal or not (Brandstatter, 2003). Klinger (1977) mentioned that when people consider to stop pursuing goals, there are four stages; firstly, is incentive fall-back (disengagement cycle) where individuals put extra effort to accomplish the goal. The second stage is invigoration, where the extra effort does not ideal [grammar?] concept of the goals. Thus, the individual becomes angry (aggression) and this can lead to withdrawing from the plan for the goals (depression). Lastly, the individual stops pursuing goals and beings to start new ones. It is important to remember Klinger's phase mode never been tested empirically but had created heuristic value to research.

Persisting in achieving a goal is one effective way of succeeding in attaining goal [grammar?]. However, that is not always the case, [grammar?] goal can become unachievable leaving individual [grammar?] to give up (Brandstatter, 2003). According to Kuhl (1992), it is important to abundant [spelling?] a goal which is unrealistic and unachievable because it may result to failure in self-regulation. Continuing with unachievable goals may also lead to lose [grammar?] in psychological and physical well-being (Wrosch et al, 2007). For individual [grammar?] not to strive in their set goal, there must be [grammar?] issue before the idea of giving up the goal begins.


University graduation ceremony
Figure 1. Attaining Goal[Provide more detail]

A goal is anything a person wants to achieved (Locke, 1995). There are many types of goals. The main two people talk about is long term and short term goals. Long term goals with time frame and [grammar?] is the paramount idea, for example, graduating from your three year course with high achievement. Meanwhile short-term goals are the pathway to long-term goals, for example ensuring you attempted all the requirements for each unit of your course. You can achieve this by having a log book or diary to track your progress (Stratton, (2005). Having a goal does not mean that you are going to achieve them, therefore finding the balance of what you are capable of achieving or not. Goals that can be achieve easily produce less work and difficult goals require a lot of energy. According to the Locke, Challenging goals is found to be achievable compare to easy goals (Locke & Latham, 2002).

Motivation[edit | edit source]

[Provide more detail]

Self-determination theory[edit | edit source]

Self-determination theory suggested that every human being have three types of psychological needs. First is autonomy, [grammar?] this is where you have control over what you do, second is competence, having opportunity to exercise your skills and thirdly, relatedness, having connection with others. This theory is important because when you have control over the goal, determine you can do something and have people who support this goal, it reduce [grammar?] the chance of giving up the goals.

Self-determination theory has explored the area of goal setting above question [grammar?] of why people set goals and why pursuing or giving up on goals. Studies inspired by the relationship between goals and self -determination suggested that for individual to fully achieve and feel satisfaction, the motivation to pursue goal should be intrinsic motivated, autonomy motivated and not driven by others suggestion[factual?]. Ryan and Deci (2008) proposed two types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Both are important in modelling us as human and our behaviour.

Intrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]

According to (Ryan and Deci, 2000) intrinsic motivation refers to participating in activity for the seek of it. Children are the best example of intrinsic motivation, [grammar?] a child will squash a ball because it is fun. Older people also are motivated intrinsically in many ways [grammar?] for instance why do people climb mountain Everest or why people surf knowing that this activities could be dangerous?. Intrinsic motivation plays role in giving up because research has found that people are easy to give up goals that are not align with their interest and values. For example if a football is not enjoying playing for his team and got injured at one of the game with a broken leg, it is easy for the player to give up if he/she is not intrinsically motivated.

Extrinsic motivation[edit | edit source]

Extrinsic motivation is a force that drive us to act and behave in a particular way and suggested to influence by environment sources such as reward (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Our community and society is surrounded by extrinsic motivation and we want this things because we want to satisfy our basic needs, psychological needs and have sense of fulfilment. This external sources are money, job, fame, care or power. Extrinsic motivation play important role in giving up goal especially goals that are not interested and not relevant anymore and the incentive is not of important. For example, you wanted to become a lawyer a year ago and decided to enrolled in law course, later in the middle of this year you realised you are not enjoying the course and decided to change your course to business, in this case giving up the dream of becoming a lawyer was appropriate because it has lead to new idea. Extrinsic motivation is found to be problematic to psychological well-being because of self-efficacy and pressure people feels [grammar?] while pursuing this goal ( Carver & Baird, 1998).

Performance -orientated goals[edit | edit source]

Also called ego-oriented goals[grammar?]. People with this types [grammar?] of goal focus their attention and mind on outcomes of their goals (Stratton, 2005). Giving up goals and ego-oriented goal are connected because people with this main set are easy to give up their goals when the process of attaining the outcome become hard or seems too far and instead of tracking back the process and analyse why, they may consider giving up the entire goal. People also who exercise performance -oriented goals may give up their goals because individuals compare themselves with others, [grammar?] the complication with comparing is that you have no control over what the other person do and this may lead to frustration for individual and giving up may become obvious. Literature suggested that the best way for people to avoid giving up their goals and persist in the pursue [grammar?] of their goal is to learn mastering their goals (Darmon et al, 2009). The benefit of mastering your goal is that, because your main focus is to learn, persistence become the process [grammar?] reaching the goal. People with mastering goals are found to take responsibility of their own action, and know achievement does not come easily.

When should people give up their goals?[edit | edit source]

A bitter disappointment
Figure 3. unattainable goal

Often people are told that ''winners never quit, and quitters never win'' to be fair life it is not quit [spelling?] as easy as it sounds. Not all the time but giving up things that does not do any good to you is beneficially than persisting. People should give up their goals when it's; [incomplete?]

Affecting psychological well-being[edit | edit source]

Giving up goals can be very difficult because the process demand [grammar?] abandoning unachievable goal but one should do so when causing poor psychological well-being and giving up the effort and commitment may lead to new and meaningful one (Wrosch et al, 2003). Research suggested that giving up goal which is unachievable may benefit individual health[factual?]. People who pursue unrealistic goals put their physical health and emotion at risk such as heart disease, sleep problems, diabetes, skin issue and stomach problem[factual?]. People who find it hard to abandon their goals has have excessive inflammation that may result from high cortical level which shows over-actively immune system. This occurs when you are constantly distress from not achieving goals (Worsch et al, 2003)

Not interesting, fun or enjoyable anymore[edit | edit source]

One may consider giving up goals when it is not exciting, enjoyable, interesting, fun or exciting (intrinsically motivating). It is important that the goal you are pursuing is what you want and it is coming from within you (internal drive) than raising from external environment. Individual should abundant[spelling?] their goal when struggling in the process of achieving the goal and causing burning out.

Lack of discipline[edit | edit source]

People should give up their goals when they realised early that it is not relevant and not worth their time, commitment and focus. This is vital because when too much effort is wasted, it will be difficult to give up the goals cognitively because it required deep thinking and this is where self-feedback, self-track and evaluation comes [missing something?] handy.

Not relevant anymore[edit | edit source]

Goal should be relevant to what is that you want to achieve. Maintaining goals that are not relevant decrease effort, commitment and focus therefore, giving up may result into mind refreshment and development of new ideas

Unattainable goal
  1. Unattainable goal may lead to maintaining effort and commitment resulting to potential psychological distress or Individual giving up the effort but remine [spelling?] committed to the goals may consequently result to psychological well-being

When should people persist?[edit | edit source]

Usain Bolt Olympics Celebration
Figure 4. Example of persisting goal[explain?]

Having a goal and achieving it is different from reality hence persisting it[awkward expression?]. To persist in a set goal, [grammar?] individual must understand why they set the goal, why that particular goal or what purpose the goal is saving. Having a goal does not mean that you are going to achieve it, there are many people who set s goals and never attained them[grammar?]. When pursuing goal[grammar?], people should consider the following;

Challenging but achievable[edit | edit source]

Difficult goal [grammar?] refers to how challenging the task is to achieve. Challenging goals required a lot of effort resulting to more time and effort invest to it hence accomplishment [grammar?] (Locke & Latham, 2002). When the goal is hard, individual [grammar?] increase their effort this because people calculate what the required achieve the ending result hence easy goals required less energy, average goals create medium effort and difficult goals producing more energy and commitment (Locke & Latham, 2002).

Congruence[edit | edit source]

There are different types of goals, but goals that reflect you [grammar?] need, values and interest are suggested to be beneficially. Goal that gives you peach [spelling?] of mind and does not course [spelling?] distress are those considered to be congruence and authentic to one self (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). For example you your parent told you to become a teacher and yes teaching is what you really want to be [grammar?]. congruence allow people to increase effort and persist towards achieving the goal [grammar?]. When your goal is compatible with your values and align with people authentic it increase the chance of persistence [grammar?].

Specific[edit | edit source]

Specific goals refers to how transparent and clear the goal explain how the individual can accomplish the goal [grammar?]. This is vital because it direct the attention of the performer (Locke & Latham, 1990) [grammar?]

Having specific goal allow people to avoid ambiguous goals but set relevance and achievable goals [grammar?]. Specific goal keep people informed of what is required and also guide behaviour [grammar?]. Being specific when pursuing goal is important because it remind people from ambiguous thinking and restrict thoughts on set goal (Klein et al, 1990) [grammar?]. For example one student will consider studying hard by attending lecture, tutorial, taking notes and revising his/her work [grammar?].

Feedback.[edit | edit source]

Another area for pursuing your goal is through tracking your feedback. Feedback is vital in pursuing goal because it guides you in the process [grammar?]. For example if people realised that they are making progress than even required, they will continue to pursue the goal and also may result to more complex goal set as a result, meanwhile if the feedback indicated poor performance below average then anticipated, the individual dissatisfaction may lead to increase in effort, or change in strategy [grammar?]. When pursuing goals ensure to reflect on your personal feedback before considering external feedback because you do not want to give your goals too prematurely and later realised the error was not hard to fix [grammar?]. Self-feedback [explain?] is found to be more effective and can lead to reassessing or setting up new goals (Ivancevich & Mc mahon, 1982).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Topic on giving up gaols [spelling?] has attract few scientist compared to goal setting theory. Giving up goals has been connected with the work of Ryan and Deci on self-determination theory ( psychological needs) and the two types of motivation they proposed [grammar?]. Scientist suggested that giving up goals that affect people psychological well - being is vital to their mental health [grammar?]. Goal should be optimistic, realistic, enjoyable, fun and interesting [grammar?]. try to enjoy the process of accomplishing your goal instant of focusing on the outcomes. when your goal become obviously unattainable, be happy to give it up with the aim of setting a new one in the similar interest.

Take home message is to pursue goals that are relevant, interest and align with values hence giving up goals that are not relevant, lack meaning and affecting psychological well-being[grammar?].

See also[edit | edit source]

Achievement goal theory (Book chapter, 2020)

Goal framing theory (Book chapter, 2019)

Goal setting techniques (Book chapter, 2018)

Goal theory (Wikipedia)

References[edit | edit source]

Brandstätter, V., Herrmann, M., & Schüler, J. (2013). The Struggle of Giving Up Personal Goals. Affective, physiological, and cognitive consequences of an action crisis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(12), 1668–1682.

Brandstätter, V., Heimbeck, D., Malzacher, J., & Frese, M. (2003). Goals need implementation intentions: The model of action phases tested in the applied setting of continuing education. European Journal of work and organizational psychology, 12(1), 37-59.

Carver, C. S., & Baird, E. (1998). The American dream revisited: Is it what you want or why you want it that matters?. Psychological science, 9(4), 289-292.

Darnon, C., Dompnier, B., Delmas, F., Pulfrey, C., & Butera, F. (2009). Achievement goal promotion at university: Social desirability and social utility of mastery and performance goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(1), 119–134.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of Theories of Social Psychology (p. 416–436). [

Campbell, J. D., & Paula, A. D. (2002). Perfectionistic self-beliefs. Their Relation to Personality and Goal Pursuit.

Fishbach, A., & Finkelstein, S. R. (2012). How feedback influences persistence, disengagement, and change in goal pursuit. Goal-directed behavior, 203-230.

Ivancevich, J. M., & McMahon, J. T. (1982). The effects of goal setting, external feedback, and self-generated feedback on outcome variables: A field experiment. Academy of Management Journal, 25(2), 359-372.

Klein, J. I. (1990). Feasibility theory: A resource-munificence model of work motivation and behavior. Academy of Management Review, 15(4), 646-665.

Latham, G. P., Locke, E. A., & Fassina, N. E. (2002). The high performance cycle. Standing the test of time. Psychological management of individual performance, 201-228.

Locke, E., & Latham, G. (2016). New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science. A Journal of the American psychological society, 15(5), 265–268.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 54-67.

Stratton, R. K. (2005). Motivation: Goals and goal setting. Strategies, 18(3), 31.

Wade, S. L. (Ed.). (2017). Self-determination theory (sdt). Perspective, applications and impact. ProQuest E book Central

Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. S. (2000). Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary educational psychology, 25(1), 68-81.

Wrosch, C., Miller, G. E., Scheier, M. F., & de Pontet, S. B. (2007).Giving up on unattainable goals. Benefits for health? Personality and social psychology Bulletin, 33(2), 251–265.

Wrosch, C., Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Schulz, R. (2003). The importance of goal disengagement in adaptive self-regulation: When giving up is beneficial. Self and Identity, 2(1), 1-20.

External links[edit | edit source]