I’m a life-long learner. I am a strident consumer of information around topics that interest me. Sometimes I consume so much information that I put off implementing what I’ve learned.
I recently came face-to-face with this realization during a coaching-based book group meeting. After reviewing our current book, I was eager to start the next. Other members suggested we put our reading off a month to give time to absorb and implement the gems the current book had laid at our feet.
They were right. The book we’d just finished was packed full of ideas we could implement with our clients. It would be a gift to have additional time to revisit, absorb, implement, and analyze how the book’s suggestions could benefit my clients and me.
Why was I so eager to move on and not implement my learning? Dopamine (the brains “feel good” neurotransmitter) may be the culprit.
According to a National Institute of Health study, elevating or depleting dopamine levels affects working memory tasks, learning to be one of those tasks. So, when we continue to pursue information on subjects we are interested in, dopamine levels increase, giving us more “feel good” vibes, which keeps us striving for more information.
According to Attention Magazine: “Learning can be exciting or adventurous; it’s about hope and possibilities. Execution is often repetitive and boring.” Also, while we are in learning mode, failure is not an option. When we move to execution mode, it is.
How does dopamine affect procrastination?
According to Neurogistics, “Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure, has been found to be a major component in procrastination, motivation, and impulsivity.” Procrastination is short-term mood repair. When we decide to procrastinate, it becomes a mood relief; thus, our brains are rewarded with dopamine.
The long and short of it:
- Learning produces dopamine.
- Procrastination produces dopamine.
When our brains continue to strive for dopamine releases by staying in the learning and procrastination loops, achieving our desired goals becomes even more of a challenge.
When you identify that you are in the procrastination cycle, identify one small step that you can take. So small that there is little or no option to fail. Once you’ve achieved success with that small task, a dopamine spike will follow, giving you even more motivation to take the next step. In no time at all, you will have achieved your goal.
How can you identify when you are at the mercy of dopamine? What can you do to move past it? What can you achieve when you do?
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