Mindful Mindlessness in Goal Pursuit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses what we call mindful mindlessness in goal pursuit. We suggest mindful strategies for the two components of goal attainment, goal selection and planning. Mindful goal selection will result in pursuing goals that are both desirable and feasible. To achieve such mindful goal selection, we suggest mental contrasting (Oettingen, 2012), the juxtaposing of a desired future with obstacles of the present reality that stand in the way of realizing the desired future. In goal planning, people need to prepare themselves for the challenge of effectively overcoming obstacles, and to meet this challenge, research has proposed forming if-then plans called implementation intentions, linking a given critical cue with a goal-directed response (Gollwitzer, 1993, 1999). We will argue that both of these self-regulation strategies capitalize on mindful self-regulation that aids goal pursuit via mindless mechanisms, and, especially when used together, optimize goal pursuit. Next, we discuss nonconscious goal pursuit, reviewing awareness-based similarities between conscious and nonconscious goal pursuit followed by differences in striving resulting from differential levels of awareness. Finally, we will discuss the importance of turning a mindful eye to the common distinction psychology makes between conscious and nonconscious goal pursuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781118294895
ISBN (Print)9781118294871
StatePublished - Mar 21 2014


  • Conscious goal pursuit
  • Mindful mindlessness
  • Nonconscious goals
  • Psychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Mindful Mindlessness in Goal Pursuit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this