Why determined people abandon goals


If you work toward a goal for long enough you might meet the action crisis, a point in time when you feel so discouraged or you’ve faced so many setbacks that you wonder if achieving the goal is worth the effort.

People who experience it are more likely to give up rather than push through, according to a new study in Psychology & Marketing.


During these crises you focus on disengagement to soften the blow of a potential failure. Say you're training for a marathon and you suffer yet another running-related injury. In times like that, it’s easier to throw in the towel than to figure out a better way to reach your goal.

In other words, if you expect perfect circumstances, recurring hiccups can derail your efforts. Instead, anticipate action crises and don't judge yourself when they creep up: People who feel like they're failing are more likely to abandon their original goal, says study author Richard Vann, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing at Penn State Behrend in Erie, Pennsylvania.


Use action crises as opportunities to rethink how you’ll reach your goals, Vann says. “That sets you on the path to solutions.” For example, if you're running six days a week to prep for a marathon and you're dealing with overuse injuries, swap some weekly runs for strength sessions and adjust your goal pace if necessary.