01 Mar

Goal Gradient Behavior

Our number finally came up to register for the vaccine. Sort of. Well, maybe. Somewhere. But possibly not for a week or two. The state announced we’re eligible. One major hospital system managed to incorporate that information into their sign-up process. The one with which our doctor is affiliated, however, did not.

The doctor’s office was sorry and promised to call in a few weeks, but suggested we look elsewhere. Fortunately, we did, and successfully, but it was very, very difficult. There’s a special place in hell for people who design computer programs and don’t test their user-friendly-ness. And yes, I recognize how fortunate we are, and that these are First World Problems, but allow me to pout for a minute anyway. Now, having gotten that out of my system, here’s the interesting part.

This is a perfect example of what’s called goal gradient behavior, the tendency to speed up when the goal is in sight. Whether running a race, finishing a task, or, in this case, getting a vaccine appointment, humans have a tendency to pick up the pace when they can see the reward coming. We’ve waited 10 months and could probably stay safe at home another month or two without killing each other. But I was annoyed and impatient, whereas last month I was happy to wait my turn.

This phenomenon also occurs when I’m painting. I’m excited about the idea and want to get the basic composition in place. Then things slow down as the real work starts, moving things, adding details, or just getting distracted. However, once I see an end in sight it’s suddenly full speed ahead again – goal gradient behavior. That is what pushed this painting, Flaming Sunset, over the finish line. I hope you like it.


  1. Beth, as always, I can relate to your posts and I absolutely LOVE your painting!!! Hang in there, the end is in sight!

  2. So happy to be able to gaze upon this painting; so happy you’re getting close to a jab. Get my second tomorrow. NM should be a template for the US at large. Easy, peasy.

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