President Barack Obama said that he "would rather be a really good one-term president" than have two mediocre terms.
In an interview to air Monday, the president stated his preference as negotiations have stalled over the healthcare reform package he championed.
Obama words come just two days before he gives his first State of the Union address, in which he will lay out his agenda for the next year.
The president is expected to explain how he wants his administration and Congress to tackle the sputtering economy and persistent high unemployment.
The White House and Democrats in Congress have also been weighing alternative ways to pass the healthcare overhaul after Republican Scott Brown picked up a surprise win in the Massachusetts special Senate election.
Republicans such as Brown have hammered away at Obama and the Democrats, saying that their policies, such as the economic stimulus package, have failed to create jobs.
Obama acknowledged that the economy's poor performance has contributed to his low approval ratings as he enters his second year. But he said that he is not in office just to remain there for eight years.
"You know, there is a tendency in Washington to believe our job description, of elected officials, is to get reelected. That's not our job description," Obama said. "Our job description is to solve problems and to help people.
"I don't want to look back on my time here and say to myself all I was interested in was nurturing my own popularity."