Dopamine is Fake Accomplishment

If you’re about to read this article, you have a desire to learn something or improve in some way.

That’s safe to say.

Let’s say you get to the end of the article and you feel something. You feel motivated, inspired, or accomplished. (That last one is the most dangerous.)

What happens next is the defining moment of truth.

Do you add something to your calendar? Do you create a spreadsheet or write out a few ideas and make a plan?

Do you take action right then and there?

Most people read something, take their small dopamine hit that comes with this micro /accomplishment/, then go on their merry way.

In other words, most people don’t do shit.

They mistake the feeling of finishing something for actual accomplishment or action.

Others are inspired after they read something and come up with ideas that they then talk about with others. This generates those feel-good dopamine hits that come from having an exciting conversation.

We all know that feeling. It feels good, like you are accomplishing something.

But you aren’t doing shit. It’s fake.

(There is research that suggests talking about your goals can reduce the likelihood you achieve them. Brutal.)

The last bucket of people form a plan and add it to their To Do List.

The problem is, if their productivity system isn’t airtight, and let’s be honest, most people suck getting things done, then adding it to their To Do List gives them that familiar dopamine spike without actually doing anything.

It feels like they did something. They added it to their list, so it’ll get done later, right?

Fake accomplishment. A false sense of security.

These poor souls go through their life perpetually adding ideas to their list with no rhyme, reason, or direction for accomplishing them.

They have, like each example above, fallen for the trap of fake accomplishment. Their brain chemistry tricked them.

By bringing awareness to which of these traps you fall victim to, you’ll get a leg up in avoiding them.

This is often the first step in any change, /knowing thyself/, as Socrates said.

I'll leave you with an actionable tip.

Every article you read, ask yourself this question:

What action, if any, should I take?

You don’t always have to take action. Often what you read will serve as a reminder, reinforcement or distraction.

Take action only when you should. The key is asking yourself this question so you don’t miss out on the few things you should take action on.

Finally, don’t let that pesky manipulator called dopamine trick you into false feelings of accomplishment.

Consider your choices. Take action if needed. Then follow through.

I get some of my best ideas from random articles I read. I also get plenty of bad ones.

But like I said, being aware is the first step.