The 29-year-old Northern Irishman put himself in a great position to contend for a second British Open and a fifth major title by carding a second successive two-under-par 69 on Friday to lie two shots off clubhouse leader, and 2015 champion, Zach Johnson of the United States.
McIlroy -- who is without a major since 2014 when he won both the British Open and the US PGA Championship -- says the days when he was too cautious and opted to play safe to ensure finishing high up the leaderboard are gone.
"I don't know, worrying too much about the result, not focusing as much on the process," said McIlroy responding as to why he had played conservatively at The Masters and the US Open this year.
A bundle of energy on the course as he engaged in regular conversation with playing partner Marc Leishman, McIlroy appears especially marked by how he played within himself on the final day of The Masters this year.
He failed to live up to the expectation that he would seal the career major slam and instead it was Patrick Reed -- his partner in the final pairing -- who played the championship golf to win his first major.
"Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve again for me because, even if I hadn't won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier," said McIlroy.
"So I'm committed to making sure, even if I don't play my best golf and don't shoot the scores I want, I'm going to go down swinging, and I'm going to go down giving it my best.
"I think that was it. Focusing on the results too much -- the result is just the by-product of all the little things you do to lead up to that.
"You know, I've sometimes forgotten that, and just need to get back in that mindset."
Patience a virtue
However, McIlroy said he had also been prepared to play patiently in the pouring rain at Carnoustie on Friday that contrasted with the beaming sunshine of Thursday.
"Yeah, a lot of patience," said McIlroy, who describes the final three holes here as being a slog.
"I was going really well through 11 holes. I hadn't made a bogey. I would have loved to have had a bogey-free round.
"I made a bogey on 12 and 15, but I made enough birdies to cancel them out on the back nine.
"Yeah, you need patience. I got a few good up-and-downs when I needed to today. On a day like that, you just need to scramble and keep yourself in it."
However, McIlroy insists he is not concerned if the rain continues to fall over the weekend.
"I wouldn't say I like it. I'd much rather be sitting here not in damp clothes and a T-shirt, but it is what it is," said McIlroy, whose good early season form tapered off with a flat performance at the Irish Open a fortnight ago.
"It was nice today. It was rainy, but it wasn't too bad, and there wasn't a lot of wind to contend with.
"So it was fine. It can get a little bit uncomfortable at times, but you just deal with it and do the best you can. I've definitely learnt to handle it a little better."