by Dwain Sliger
If you are motivated, keep reading.
If you are a procrastinator, why bother.
As a former, and sometimes relapsing procrastinator, I understand. There is something else grabbing my attention for a brief and rushing moment. I know how to get what I don’t want. I know the awful feedback loop of repeating the mantra of “someday” mixed in with a chorus of “not now” accompanied by a refrain of “tomorrow”.
I know the battle between present and future self.
You and I have a desire for something better.
How many times has it happened?
- You waited until tomorrow?
- You stopped what you have started 72 hours later?
- You allowed non essentials to become essential?
- You wrecked your progress?
Imagine if You Only had 100 Motivation Points a Day
What if every morning you were given 100 motivation points? How would you use them throughout the day?
There are times when I have thought about changing a habit or starting something new only to be disappointed.
I have the idea, the resources, the support, and it didn’t happen.
As a licensed therapist and master health coach, I work with individuals who desire to change. It’s often puzzling what separates individuals who move from contemplation to action and those who remain chronic contemplators for years.
Some time ago, I began to evaluate my energy levels. I’m an early riser. It’s when I do my best work of the day. I reserve the activities that take concentration and creativity for the early morning.
Shortly, thereafter, I began to ask others about their energy levels.
Amazingly, the feedback was insightful. Overall individuals reported different energy levels for different times of the day. Of course, one question leads to another. Drawing on my work in the addiction field, I began to think more about energy and our reward system.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter made by your body and used by your nervous system to send messages between cells.
Dopamine is how we feel pleasure, plan, and think. Most importantly, it lends a hand in helping us seek and focus our attention and reward system.
Dopamine plays a crucial role in motivation.
(For more information on Neurotransmitters involved in the brain/body connection follow this link: https://askthescientists.com/neurotransmitters/ )
It’s also worth noting the connection between diet and dopamine. Dopamine is made from tyrosine. Getting more tyrosine in our diet may help boost your dopamine levels and improve memory and concentration. In addition, meditation is also linked to to releasing dopamine. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dopamine-the-pathway-to-pleasure
Drip or Drown?
We have many distractions today. Things such as video gaming, social media, binge watching TV series, substance abuse and even food can all flood a person with dopamine. Are we drowning ourselves with dopamine and depleting our energy levels? If so, the result is nothing left over for what gives my life meaning and direction.
In other words, we have used our 100 motivation points too soon in the day. I suspect this accounts for the “I don’t feel like doing_____!
What if Dopamine Regulation and Production is A Key to Motivation?
What if you considered dopamine management as an ally in your quest for motivation? How can you and I use dopamine to our advantage with a view toward our future self? If what we want to do is important and we follow through, we are rewarded and reinforced.
I play the guitar. It has taken some time to develop muscle memory and callouses. I want to play the acoustic guitar, but I don’t always feel like practicing.
I go with what I want, not how I feel.
Surprisingly, when I learn a new chord shape or finger-style pattern it hits a target, it gets reinforced, and the feeling of completion, not to mention pleasure is there.
Over time, the desire to practice is linked to a reward—a drip of dopamine.
I have learned to tie this to almost everything I don’t feel like doing but want to do, because those are the moments I am becoming more of my future and preferred self.
3 Motivation Strategies to Set You Apart
- Take an Honest Inventory—Remember the 100 points? Do a day of discovery and locate where your energy is going. It could be scrolling social media, binge watching a streaming service, etc. Ask, “Does this activity promote myself and my goals? If not, channel that into something that will. Your dopamine will follow.
- Be in Control of Your Choices—Yes, you have more control than you know. At first you may be motivated externally. For example, the number on the scale or the calories you consume. Over time, as you change your habits and patterns, motivation can become an inside job. You do it because you like how you feel—that drip of dopamine. We are like a huge sponge we absorb what we see and hear. Choose from your menu of options wisely!
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race—Delaying gratification is a skill you and I have been working on since we entered the world, hopefully? We are in for the long run, not a quick and exhausting sprint. Learn to live with limits. Indulgence is the enemy of where we want to go, and we can’t sit back and wish ourselves to be different. Use your motivation points wisely and tie them to behaviors that build you, not distract you. We are building something worthy of our potential. We are one dopamine drip away from changing the trajectory.
I have not discovered a life hack or magic formula for motivation. Yet, what I have noticed from motivated individuals is a drive to improve from one state to another—and if there is any magic or life hack, it’s based on the belief that mood follows action.
There is a feel good transmitter reinforcing what we we want to do—Dopamine.
This important neurochemical boosts mood, motivation, and attention plus helps to regulate movement, learning, and emotional responses.
What we want to do is more valuable than how we feel about it.
Are you ready to use these 3 extraordinary strategies to set you apart?