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How to Harness the Dopamine Effect to Stick to your Goals

Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement.- W. Clement Stone

One of the best ways to keep New Year’s resolutions is to activate both your conscious and your unconscious mind to help you to achieve them.
To do this, you have to learn to positively use your imagination. You need to allow yourself to do a bit of daydreaming and visualise yourself achieving your goal. This activates the occipital lobe of the brain, releasing dopamine and keeping motivation high.

Stepping out of your comfort zone

It certainly helps too, to have clarity about your goal to overcome those moments when the switch- cost effect begins to kick in, as you try to behave in a different way and encounter the kind of internal resistance which can cause real emotional distress.
Stepping outside your comfort zone instigates the kind of neurological change we are biologically conditioned to avoid. Sometimes it can feel as though you have your foot on the gas and the brake at the same time.
Setting a resolution or a goal causes excitement, but it can also produce quite a lot of anxiety too.

A message to myself

When it comes to harnessing motivation for change, it might be worth asking yourself these questions:
• How will I feel in 20 years time if I don’t make this change now?
• If not now, when?
In your imagination, you can time travel even further forward, and think of you as a much older version of yourself. Now ask yourself:
• What do I wish I had done back then?
• What fears or anxieties should I have set aside?
• What is the message that older me would like to send to the younger version of myself?
We can all gain wisdom from our older, wiser self when we consider the bigger questions ‘who is it I want to be?’ and ‘what do I want my life to represent?’
Don’t let fear return you to the safety zone. When it comes to setting goals and making change happen, don’t be content to just be a window shopper. Walk right in and commit to making a purchase.
Once you’re committed, you will do whatever it takes and you’ll take action daily, creating consistent habits of doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right order.

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.