Goal Planning


The human mind is remarkably persistent in its pursuits, often even disturbingly so. Intrusive thoughts remind people of their unfulfilled goals, including to the point of interfering with other tasks. The present results, however, suggest an alternative possibility.

By planning for their goals, people can better manage their multiple pursuits. It has been well documented that specific plans increase success (Gollwitzer, 1999), doing so in part by making goal pursuit more automatic. Once a detailed plan has been made, one no longer has to think about the goal to execute it (Brandsta¨tter et al., 2001). Apparently, a plan reduces the amount of thoughts and attention that are typically recruited in service of an unfulfilled goal. Thoughts of an incomplete goal will not interfere with current concerns so long as a plan has been made to see the goal through later on.