Goal Setting: Real Reason New Years Resolutions Don't Last
Dec 12, 2019
Last week I started a new thread about the new year approaching and setting new year’s goals and resolutions.
The discussion started with the dopamine loop
Dopamine is a pleasure chemical, and more or less, it is not necessarily released with a reward, but in "anticipation" of a reward.
Anytime we set a goal or make a decision, the anticipation of what it’ll be like to realize the goal or decision floods the body with a rush of dopamine.
That rush can feel oh so marvelous, like flying a kite on cloud nine.
Again, that arises not from actually achieving the goal, but just from the "thought" of achieving the goal. So, not from having taken a single step, but from just the mere thought.
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The point is, action is not what releases the reward chemical
In fact, once we take action, the opposite usually occurs.
A barrage of chemicals that resist action are released like fear, anxiety, apprehension, and doubt about whether this is going to work or not.
Taking action actually makes much of the positive feelings go away
Another important concept to understand is that since we come from hunter gatherer times, majority of our actions were inspired for immediate results - catch a prey, escape a threat, chop down a coconut.
Modern-day goals and resolutions take much more time and effort - weeks, months, and even years - to achieve.
Unfortunately, dopamine rushes don't last that long
It’s almost impossible for the brain to produce an endless supply of dopamine to keep you in that inspired state minute after minute, day in and day out, week after week, month after month until you have realized that goal.
Eventually the inspired feelings fade.
And once the feelings fade, so does our actions.
This is one of the reasons we don’t stick with our new year’s resolutions and goals.
We are relying on feelings to carry us through, but there is a mechanical limit to the feelings lasting, and those feelings are not necessarily produced by action.
It’s important to not rely on mere feelings
Know most of the journey, it’s not going to feel as it did when you set or decided on the goal.
It just won’t.
It’s not how the body works.
Once we take action, and even when we realize the goal, a different set of chemicals are released.
Often, those chemicals are not as enjoyable as the one that got us inspired to take action.
I’ll continue the thread next week…
Hope you find this interesting,
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