Abstract The effects of power legitimacy on self-regulation during goal pursuit were examined. Study 1 focused on goal-setting and goal-striving. Specifically, it examined how much time legitimate and illegitimate powerless individuals needed to set goals, and how many means they generated to pursue these goals. Study 2 examined persistence in the face of difficulties. Consistently across these studies illegitimacy improved self-regulation in powerless individuals. Illegitimate powerless individuals behaved similarly as control participants. They took less time to decide on a course of action, used more flexible means to strive for goals, and persisted longer in the face of difficulties, compared to their legitimate counterparts. The implications of these findings are discussed.