Have you ever set a goal for yourself only to start and then give up shortly after?
I’ve done exactly this plenty of times after taking on a task and then realizing how much work is involved. Turns out I’m not the only one.
But why does this happen?
I usually know what I need to do, but then I struggle to force myself into action.
However, there are ways you can trick your brain into doing hard things. Actually enjoying difficult tasks and basking in the reward and satisfaction of completion.
The trick is simply controlling your brains’ dopamine release. By training your brain into rewarding you with a release of dopamine when you undertake and complete difficult tasks you can ‘trick’ yourself into enjoying difficult tasks.
You can actually train your brain into doing hard things with similar energy and zeal you apply when performing simple tasks or things that you love to do.
You can manipulate the human brain into doing almost anything and enjoying it.
it sounds simple, but it’s not quite that simple.
Let’s dive in.
Dopamine In Your Brain And Performing Hard Tasks?
You’ve probably heard of dopamine before, but what exactly is it?
Dopamine is commonly referred to as the “pleasure molecule”.
Dopamine is an organic chemical that the brain naturally produces and releases giving us a chemical release of pleasure.
When dopamine is released in the brain you feel happy, lighter, and in an overall better mood.
When you do something you enjoy, like playing basketball for me, or fishing or listening to music, your body releases dopamine which gives you a pleasurable feeling.
So what if you could train your body to release dopamine when you’re mowing the lawn, or when you’re forcing yourself to exercise as a beginner, or taking on that hard task that you’ve been procrastinating for months.
Well, you can train your body to do exactly that.
Dopamine can give you the daily motivation you need to drive you towards completing a difficult goal.
You can do this by training your brain to expect a reward after you complete a task.
Motivate yourself for doing something difficult with a reward.
For example, no beer until you complete your weekly goals. If you stick to this, “”set small goals – accomplish small goals – receive reward”” system, then over time you will actually enjoy getting a dopamine release from accomplishing tough tasks.
I now run a mile everyday in the park behind my house and enjoy every minute of it. I feel more confident about myself after exercising, and I reward myself with a well earned beer or by playing basketball afterwards.
At first it was DIFFICULT – Actually it sucked, but only the first few times, Now if I miss a day I feel like I miss out on a pleasurable experience.
Likely you’ve already trained your brain in a similar sense to respond to phone noises.
Think about when your phone beeps when you’re in a crowd of people, everyone reaches for their phones.
This is because we’ve all been trained to respond to certain txt tones. It might be something and it might be nothing, but the need to find out what the message or notification is and what news it bears drives all of us to check our phones.
It’s the dopamine rush that makes you want to find out what the notification is and if it comes with a reward.
The bottom line is, if you understand your brains dopamine reward system, you can use it to your advantage to “hack” or ‘trick’ your brain (and body) into taking action and actually enjoying and doing difficult tasks.
7 Incredible Tips to Trick, Teach, Motivate, and Train Your Brain Into Doing Hard Things
1. Stop Procrastinating
“I’ll stop procrastinating tomorrow”
When we face tough tasks most of us like to procrastinate and postpone because that’s how our brain and bodies are conditioned to react when we face challenging tasks.
However, with simple tasks, we jump in to finish them quickly because we see the tasks as ‘short and sweet’
Your brain wants to skip hard things, and that’s why you procrastinate and postpone tasks.
You can beat procrastination by committing to the task at hand.
Say it again ….
“You can beat procrastination when doing hard things by committing to the task at hand.”
Commit to it and reward yourself when the task is complete.
Rewards are a great source of motivation and drive us when we’re stuck or when we need to perform difficult tasks.
When you stop procrastinating your brain will be rewired and you will automatically stop producing the negative emotions that lead you to procrastinate in the first place.
2. Keep A Positive Attitude
Another simple but realistic way to trick, teach, and train your brain into doing hard things by thinking positively.
Easier said than done, I know.
A negative mindset, can block your brain from releasing dopamine and prevent you from any level of enjoyment.
Your emotions affect how you feel. If you think negatively, you’ll develop negative emotions and this can reduce your vigor and drive towards doing and completing hard tasks.
For this reason, think positively and work your way through problems with determination and creative problem solving.
If you’re struggling with positivity in your life, try starting your day with positive affirmations, focus on everything good that’s happening in your life and on the project you’re working on like a small task completed however small they might be.
Remember, someone somewhere has it much worse off than you do.
Focus on the present and replace all the negative thoughts and talks with positive lessons learned.
Learn to be optimistic.
3. Set and Use Mini and Micro-Goals
Staring at the end of a 26 mile marathon must seem like a pretty daunting task.
But if you’re training you don’t run 26 miles on the first day.
Maybe you start with a micro-goal of 1 mile and slowly train over a period of weeks. After a couple of months of hard work, you can easily hit yoru macro-goal of running a full 26 mile marathon.
Split up hard tasks and break them into mini micro-goals.
You can only concentrate for so long. When you need to do a hard task, sooner or later your energy levels drop. That’s why you set mini-goals.
Mini goals are important because they allow you to get rest in between the completion of tasks.
Furthermore, celebrating after finishing the small tasks will trigger your brain to produce dopamine, and this is the motivation and drive you need to complete the next task.
Reward yourself upon completion of a given small task.
But here’s a trick, reward yourself with something you like, something that will trigger dopamine in your brain.
This will trick your brain and tell you that you have everything under control.
After that, your brain has no choice but to perceive the hard task as easy and achievable. It’s human nature. That’s how we think.
4. Practice Mindfulness and Mediation
Today, because of the instant gratification brought on by the internet and social media, most people have irregular dopamine production which leads to shorter and shorter attention spans.
When you have irregular dopamine, you can barely get through hard tasks because you have no source of motivation. Y
our dopamine levels are depleted quickly before feeling the need to grab your phone or follow a new distraction.
Luckily, you can reverse irregular dopamine and trick your brain into doing hard things through practicing mindfulness and meditation.
Practicing mindfulness helps you control your thoughts, yoru will power, and balance your dopamine levels to keep a healthy baseline.
(You can learn more about mindfulness in a previous article we wrote here)
5. Use Exercise to Trick Your Brain Into Doing Hard Things
Exercise is not supposed to be easy. But the benefits of exercise are agreed upon by experts across the world.
Exercising is the perfect metaphor for how life works. The results are guaranteed if you put in the work consistently everyday over time.
The more time you put in, the more milestone goals you’ll hit.
When we exercise it leads to the production of dopamine in your brain.
This is why exercising is difficult, but if you overcome the struggle, you feel good.
This gives you the motivation and the superhero power to do anything, no matter how hard it might seem.
So the next time you’re stuck while doing a difficult task. Take a break and jump on a 15 minutes workout, take a cold shower and get back to your tasks.
You’ll notice that you’re naturally motivated and you have the drive to complete more difficult tasks.
Plus it’s a great way to take a break from work and come back with a fresh mind.
Exercising frees the brain of constraints and allows you to think creatively and easily come up with new ideas and solutions.
6. Listen to Pleasant Music and Motivational Podcasts
Another great way to trick your brain into doing hard things is by listening to music and motivational podcasts.
It’s the best way to raise your vibration and motivate yourself. Listening to music is a great way to improve your concentration, productivity and ability to learn and master new things.
When you listen to melodious music, it triggers your brain to release dopamine, which then motivates you into hard things.
Similarly, when you listen to sad music, you notice that your moods change and you start to feel sad. This is because the music you’re listening to is emitting a sad frequency. Listening to motivational podcasts and music will uplift you, help you get rid of negative thoughts and uplift you.
This is why today different companies are promoting the use of music therapy at the workplace.
For this reason, if you’re stuck and cannot get work done because your brain thinks it’s hard, treat yourself to some amazing music that will give you chills and before you know it, you will get the motivation and drive you to need to tackle and complete the task at hand.
7. Get Enough Rest and Sleep
During the day we need an enormous amount of natural dopamine so that we can live normal motivated lives.
But at the end of the day, we are often depleted of dopamine.
That’s why we need to rest so that we recycle and reproduce dopamine to use during the next day.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might start to experience irregular dopamine levels. And this in turn will affect your motivation and the drive to do hard things.
Therefore if you want to trick your brain into hard things, get enough sleep so that your brain produces enough dopamine levels for your motivation.
Getting enough rest will help you reduce stress and anxiety that can demotivate you and interfere with your daily work
If you’re wondering how to trick your brain into doing hard things, apply the 7 tricks sooner rather than later and you’ll start to see results.
Take it 1 step at a time. I know it cliche, but starting small and working towards bigger goals is the way to go.
Good luck and let us know in the comments which of these tips works best for you.
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Thanks for reading !
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