This is part 2 of the article 8 Secrets About Motivation You Need to Know
In part 1 of the article you learned the brain science about motivation and about the two sides to the motivation molecule, and how to reward yourself along the journey and not just for the destination.
Here is step 4 of the 8 secrets about motivation you need to know.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Here’s another neuroscience secret – running into challenges and making mistakes is actually good for your learning.
When you make mistakes, your brain realizes there’s a gap between what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do.
And as a result, it starts releasing neuromodulators and priming your brain and body to narrow that gap.
You likely don’t enjoy making mistakes. Errors can stress you out and frustrate you, and at times you might even quit.
Again, this is where you need to remember the subjective nature of dopamine.
When you’re stressed and frustrated from making mistakes, there’s a spike in adrenaline and acetylcholine in your system.
Adrenaline puts you on high alert, priming your brain and body to scan your environment and respond very quickly.
Acetylcholine helps narrow your focus down to something, by magnifying the signals from your object of focus, and dimming others.
Instead of quitting, keep going, and keep making mistakes. Your brain will continue to recalibrate and narrow the gap between what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do.
The slightest bit of progress can then spark dopamine. And instead of seeing mistakes as failure, by viewing them as evidence of your hard work and progress, you can amplify this effect.
This puts you in the perfect condition not just for motivation, learning and focus but also neuroplasticity. This refers to your brain’s ability to adapt to and change with new learning and experience.
That’s not the only reason you benefit from subjectively allocating rewards. In fact, dopamine scheduling, as you’ll see in the next section, helps prolong dopamine spikes while staving off pain!
5. Schedule Your Dopamine
You’ve already learned about the importance of attaching a sense of reward to your journey towards a goal and this next section is another of the most significant of the 8 secrets about motivation you need to know.
Another key to making sure you can sustain the motivation of a dopamine spike is through intermittent reward scheduling.
Basically, you achieve this by celebrating some, not all, of your wins.
Instead of attaching a sense of reward to each step completed, you attach this reward to every other step.
And you do this on an irregular, unpredictable pattern.
What happens as a result is that you can prolong a single dopamine spike for longer between rewards.
And this helps stave off and minimize the corresponding bouts of pain after each spike.
So, intermittent reward scheduling would look a little like this.
Say you score a big project with an important client. This might be a huge milestone for you, but you hold off on celebrating it and subjectively enjoying the reward.
Instead, you wait until you’ve successfully completed your first brainstorming session before you allow yourself a reward.
This surge of pleasure, sense of accomplishment and drive magnifies your ability to exert effort toward your goal.
And you hold off on rewarding yourself again until a couple more steps down the line.
This amplifies and prolong your dopamine spikes and keeps the spikes of pain at lower and more manageable levels!
6. Balance Dopamine with Serotonin
Among the 8 secrets about motivation you need to know it is possible to over-activate your dopamine pathways.
People who experience high levels of dopamine activity might constantly be in pursuit of something, but never content.
As much as setting and fulfilling goals is important, so is being able to enjoy the moment and the present.
Dopamine constantly makes you think of and yearn for what you don’t have.
And to balance out this extreme, one of the things you can do is boost your serotonin levels.
Serotonin is like the other side of the coin to dopamine. Dopamine makes you focus on what you don’t have and pursue it. Serotonin on the other hand makes you feel content and calm with where you are.
A good balance of serotonin and dopamine helps you maintain a healthier pleasure-pain balance.
And one of the ways of boosting your serotonin is through social connection!
Spending time with family, friends, and even your pets can increase your serotonin levels.
Doing things you enjoy, like indulging in a hobby, also creates that sense of calm, contentment, and bliss.
And with these 8 secrets about motivation you need to know, you now have all the tools to access motivation on demand!
Pat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com, HowtoLearn.Teachable.com, best selling author and an internationally noted brain and learning coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert.
Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, including Total Recall Learning™.
She is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!
Contact Pat to find out more about the Brain 2.0 Brain Advantage Learning and Career Assessment and customized faster learning programs for professionals and students.
Related article – Part 1 8 Secrets About Motivation You Need to Know