Dopamine: the ultimate motivator

Dopamine is more than just a ‘reward’ process.

Many of us associate dopamine with feelings of pleasure upon completing a task; whether it be runner’s high, ticking off the to-do list, or smashing your goal.

But actually, the underrated benefit of dopamine is that it is released during the anticipation phase; making it a key player in motivation and sticking with things when the going gets tough.

Relying on dopamine for steady motivation.

When dopamine is released in the brain, it comes out in two differing patterns: a slow, constant release called “tonic” and a rapid, high-concentration release called “phasic”.

The “tonic” slow release is what keeps us motivated even when we haven’t reached the big reward yet. This is what we can use to our advantage when sticking to a habit gets tough.

How to leverage dopamine for motivation:

1. Having what scientists call a ‘growth mindset’

This means believing that you have the ability to grow and improve. While it may sound simple, interrupting the negative bias takes some dedication.

Having a growth mindset is one of the best ways to tap in to your unlocked potential - it allows dopamine to help you on your way.

2. Small steps

Breaking down goals into smaller, achievable chunks is the best way to make progress.

Dopamine will assist in getting you past each hurdle, and the more you establish a pathway of success, the easier it will be to find motivation.

Let’s say your goal is to run 4 days a week. If you start with an achievable 10 minute session, your brain will associate this with a feel-good outcome. The next day, dopamine will be released in anticipation of this routine, helping you to stay consistent.

3. Utilise your cognitive control

Remember, dopamine is subjective.

The prefrontal cortex is part of the dopamine pathway and provides subjective, top-down control for motivation levels.

Telling yourself you are moving towards your goals is a huge stimulator of dopamine release. So, remember to acknowledge your progress. It can literally move you closer toward your goal. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure. We are all unique, for your individual health concerns it is important to discuss these with a BePure Holistic Health Consultant or relevant health professional.