The dopamine system

How does it affects goal setting?

The dopamine system

Have you ever felt highly motivated to achieve a goal? That feeling can be attributed to dopamine, the molecule of craving and drive. Dopamine motivates us to take action towards the things we desire. But how does dopamine affect our goal setting and achievement? Let’s dive deeper.

Balancing pleasure and pain

As we experience pleasure, the scale of pain-pleasure tilts, and we crave more of the thing that brought us pleasure. This craving is about balancing pleasure and pain. However, if we remain in constant pursuit of pleasure, we achieve less dopamine release every time, while the amount of pain increases. To maintain high levels of motivation, try intermittent reward: celebrate successes every other time, every tenth time, etc. This technique blunts dopamine response, prevents a crash, and keeps you on the path to bigger goals.

Attach dopamine with the pursuit, not just the end-goal

One common mistake in goal setting is to focus solely on the end goal, rather than the pursuit of the goal itself. Instead, attach dopamine with the pursuit of the goal. This mindset will help you stay motivated throughout the journey, not just at the destination.

Cold plunge for increased dopamine levels

If you’re looking for a natural way to boost dopamine levels, try cold plunges. A cold plunge, which can be in cold water of varying temperatures depending on your adaptation, can increase dopamine levels up to 2.5x for longer periods of time, up to three hours post-exposure.

Setting and achieving goals

The same neural circuits are involved in setting and achieving goals, regardless of their size or complexity. These neural circuits assess the value of the goal and determine which actions to take towards that goal. When setting goals, keep in mind the following best practices:

Set goals that are realistic and challenging

Delayed discounting: The further out a goal is, the less effective the reward is in motivating behavior

Imagining a goal has to be coupled with the pursuit of the goal

Foreshadow failure: Use failure as motivation to lean into correct behaviors

By setting realistic yet challenging goals and focusing on the pursuit of those goals, you can keep your dopamine levels high and stay motivated. Plan concretely and focus on visual points to keep your attention and remove distractors. Don't forget to foreshadow failure to keep you motivated towards the correct behaviors.

In conclusion

Dopamine plays a crucial role in motivation and goal setting. By understanding how dopamine works and utilizing strategies to optimize its effects, you can achieve your goals and stay motivated throughout the journey.