Two factors increase the motivation to adhere to a goal: goal commitment and lack of goal progress. When people ask about commitment, focusing on what they have accomplished (to date) signals to them high commitment and increases motivation. Conversely, when commitment is certain and people ask about goal progress, focusing on what they have yet to accomplish (to go) signals to them lack of progress and increases motivation. Accordingly, 4 studies show that emphasizing to-date information increases goal adherence when commitment is uncertain--that is, when participants study for a relatively unimportant exam, consume luxuries, fulfill a desire, and make first-time contributions to a charity. Conversely, emphasizing to-go information increases goal adherence when commitment is certain--that is, when participants study for an important exam, consume necessities, fulfill a need, and make repeated contributions to a charity.
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