Dopamine and goal attainment: how to get energy credit in the brain bank

Andrei Beloveshkin, a doctor, PhD in medicine and lecturer at the Medical University, tells us how the dopamine system is like a bank and how to teach yourself how to achieve your goals.

Dopamine is like currency, the brain does not give it away against anything

Of course, the brain is not going to spend its hard-earned currency for nothing. And when you say to yourself ‘I have to’: learn a language, lose weight or learn a new skill, your brain knows that it will require a lot of energy. Which you may not have at all right now and have to take credit for. Therefore, it is easier for the brain to sabotage the goals than to expend energy to achieve them. To cope with this, growth hormone comes to the rescue to help you exercise. Get it here

The dopamine system is the bank, you are the entrepreneur

Think of the dopamine system as a bank and the prefrontal cortex of your brain as an entrepreneur. To get a loan, it is important to have a good business plan for the future: a great idea with a high chance of success. The wider your planning horizon, the clearer you are about to achieve your goals and how you will deal with any difficulties that arise, the more likely you are to get a long-term motivation loan.

Show the “bank” that the business is winnable, innovative and promises great returns, and explain why you are the one who can pull it off! The better you can visualise the future, the more likely it is to be achieved.

If you find it difficult to imagine what will happen to you in a month, then don’t get your hopes up for long-term motivation – your brain won’t give energy if you’re living in one day. The likelihood of not getting credit for motivation is so high that it’s not worth the risk. Note: your fantasies of “waking up a millionaire one day” or “marrying a prince” won’t give your brain a penny, you just need clear and realistic plans.

You have to have a good credit history to get credit: you have to have a track record of acquiring such skills, albeit on a smaller scale. When you take control of even a small aspect of your goal and execute it, it gives you confidence and, for your brain, improves your credit history. Hmmm, managed to run and exercise once a week? Then you can give energy to exercise 2 times a week too. A loan for a smaller amount is much more realistic to get, so lower your queries and then increase them gradually.

To get a loan you need good collateral and no debts. The state of our health is our collateral. If we eat well, get enough sleep, have a developed muscular system, control stress, have a good social circle and social status, then under these resources our brain will gladly give us motivation for the future. If, on the other hand, you are struggling to make it to Friday night, barely coping with stress, then all the brain’s currency will go towards ensuring daily functioning, without putting aside a reserve for the future.

Negotiate rather than force it out

Often to get more resources from our bodies, we act rudely, forcing ourselves to do something by force of will, by coercion. But abusing the word ‘have to’ leads to a drop in dopamine levels and strong willpower costs. This is why willpower alone will not get you very far in achieving long-term goals. Many people also try to cheat the dopamine system by resorting to various free-lance stimulants.

Dopamine freebies are anything that raises dopamine levels without any real work or effort. Eat something sweet and your mood goes up, drink it and your subjective self-esteem goes up. But the printing of unsecured money always leads to inflation.

Excess dopamine stimulation of the brain leads to addiction and even greater motivational disorders.

The likelihood of getting credit is higher when you have the ability to do what you are asking for. The brain assesses this by the level of enjoyment – the conscious enjoyment of doing something. If you only “have to” but don’t enjoy it at all, you will probably be refused credit.

Don’t look for motivation on the outside, everything you need is in your head

Build up a good credit history by practising on the little things, learn to enjoy your goal, refrain from over-stimulation, build up your internal reserves.

And then create a realistic and inspiring business plan to achieve your goal. Then your brain will give you such inspiration and motivation that your energy will be the envy of the world. Learn not to break yourself, but to negotiate on an equal footing.

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