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Goal pursuit outcomes are partly caused by the way people think about goals. However, it is unknown whether there are stable individual differences in the tendency to deploy particular meta-cognitions during goal pursuit, and whether such patterns of thought predict eventual achievement. A tool to assess such differences would help to identify and intervene on barriers to goal progress. Here, we define a new construct within the conscientiousness domain—planfulness—that captures a person’s proclivity to adopt efficient goal-related cognition in pursuit of their goals. We hypothesize that planfulness consists of three facets representing distinct mental processes (temporal orientation, cognitive strategies, and mental flexibility), and that planfulness predicts goal achievement on an individual basis. We developed a 30-item Planfulness Scale with three subscales tested and refined across 5 studies and 10 samples (total unique N = 4,318) on data collected from both student and on-line samples. The Planfulness Scale demonstrated both convergent and discriminant validity when compared to other measurements, and scale scores predicted goal progress in a longitudinal study. We conclude that the Planfulness Scale is a valid and reliable measurement of real-world goal achievement, and we describe the utility of the planfulness construct for self-regulation research and applied settings.
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