I totally do that.
I sort of hide when I do it if other people are around because it seems pretty silly.
But what if it isn’t silly?
What if it’s a healthy hit of dopamine?!
Side Note from Wikipedia: In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.
So, I can cross something off the list and it feels like a reward to me – because it is! How cool is that. #brainhack – right?!
Why wouldn’t I do that?
Guess where else I get, a little thing I’m going to call, “completion dopamine?”
- ·Finished that episode of Grace and Frankie (I know, don’t judge!)
- ·Finished the series of “The Crown”
- ·Ate all the cookies so now they are out of the house
- ·Emptied that bottle of wine and got if off the counter
- ·Ate those last few bites to clean my plate
Can you see me brushing my hands clean of all those completed tasks? Satisfied. BOOM!
All that dopamine! It’s fucking fabulous!
Except – it’s CONSUMPTION, not CREATION, and it’s so easy.
I get the hit of completion dopamine – but all I did was consume. I didn’t make anything new. I didn’t move my life forward, I didn’t make the world better.
I can keep getting these hits of completion dopamine laying on the couch motoring through shows on Netflix and polishing off packages of chips – or I can get it from completing things that require effort.
Guess which one feels better?
Guess which ones gives you results past that little hit of dopamine?
Yep, the one that requires effort. Work. Thoughtfulness. Planning.
So, you can keep working for the hit of completion dopamine and stay the same or you can risk living a life that you’ve invested yourself into the creation of.
What does that look like?
- I read a book on meditation before bed because I want to learn that practice – even when Grace and Frankie are calling me.
- I leave the wine on the counter because I didn’t plan it and because I already know it’s important that I wake up fresh. I like the feeling of jumping out of bed rather than dragging myself.
- I realize I’m satisfied ¾ of the way through my meal and I throw the rest away because the results I’m creating on the scale and in my body are more satisfying than seeing a clean plate.
Do you feel me? I mean FEEEEEEEEL me?
When you decide to create new results, you have to make the daily efforts in the direction of those desired outcomes.
Yes, you will want the cookie. But what is better? Getting to have a cookie you want RIGHT NOW and getting that one tiny dopamine hit – or – knowing that you are achieving your goals?
Long term pride for the win, every time. But don’t just take my word for it – try it!
- Pick a result you want to happen today or tomorrow.
- Commit to making it happen.
- Go do it.
- Notice feelings of resistance to doing the thing you want.
- Do it anyway.
- Notice the feeling of pride for completing something.
Here’s an example:
- I want to get that 6-week email series set up and ready to roll.
- I will have it completed by 10:30am today. (time elapsed… It’s 9:23 and I’ve got is started, uploading and planned! I’ll keep working on it, but I wanted to finish this!)
- I went and did it, I went to work creating something that I didn’t know how to do exactly. I had to learn, try, reconsider, and keep going. I had to recommit every time it got “hard.”
- The feeling of resistance was honestly taken away because I knew you were waiting for me – but I know it can be real. So, maybe a deadline will be helpful for you too! I know I do better with them!
- I am doing it anyway. Even though it is harder to do new things than to get a quick dopamine hit from TV or food – this is so worth it to have done!
- I’m STOKED to have this ready to go, I have 3 people already waiting for it and I’m excited to share it with them!
I think you get the idea, right?
Go for the completion dopamine of CREATION rather than CONSUMPTION!
Let me know what you think, I love hearing from you!
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters