We've all experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed or unmotivated when it comes to achieving our goals. Whilst many factors can help or hinder us, as psychologists we know the best place to start is developing the right mindset. Doing so will allow you to tackle any goal you’re working towards.

How do you do this? We’ll share three psychological tools—mastery, autonomy, and purpose—that will help get you back on track and stay focused.


Mastery is the desire to get better at something. It’s about setting challenging goals, learning something new and working hard to get better at it. When we do, we often feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what we’ve accomplished.

If you’re endeavouring to master Spanish, for instance, a key challenge you can undertake is to consistently learn new vocabulary words each day, thereby honing your skills gradually and steadily.


Autonomy is the desire to have freedom over choices and actions. You have more control over your life when you have autonomy—you feel empowered by the choices you make and confident in your ability to act on them.

If you’re working towards a goal that you feel has been imposed on you, consider where you can carve out your own autonomy. For example, do you have a choice over what action you take and when? Can you find your own technique to do it?  Do you have a choice of who to work with and support you?


Purpose is your “why” – what drives you? Having a clear vision of what you want and a strong rationale will help keep you focused on what matters most, even in the face of setbacks. Whilst we can’t control the bumps in the road along the way, having a strong “why” will help stop us from derailing from our ultimate goal, because our purpose is still clearly in sight.

A strong “why” may be something much bigger than you – having a positive impact on others, being a role model for change or inspiring others to take action may also help carry you through the tough times. This will inspire you to keep going when things get tough.

Together these three psychological tools make intrinsic motivation, where we are driven by internal rewards such as satisfaction and pride in our work or accomplishments. This is different from extrinsic motivation, which is driven by external rewards like money or recognition from others. Research tells us intrinsic motivation is far more effective than extrinsic motivation when it comes to achieving success.

What about dealing with failure? Failure can be a difficult thing to deal with but it’s important not to let it define us or stop us from reaching our goals. Instead of focusing on the outcome, think about other lessons learned along the way and try again with your newfound knowledge or skillset.

Motivation isn’t something that just happens overnight. It takes persistence and dedication for us to reach our goals. That’s why these three psychological tools—mastery, autonomy, and purpose—can help us develop the right mindset and stay focused on what we want to achieve in life.

With consistent effort and an open mind, anything is possible. Take initiative today and start working towards your goal.

For further details or to explore how we can support your organisation, please reach out to us at letushelp@peoplewise.co.uk.