We all have goals. We all have things we want to get done. We are right in the thick of a new year — with new possibilities. There is the fresh start bias that we all have; an easy-to-grab heuristic that claims we love to begin our goals on special days, events and make big deals of these big changes in our lives. Instagram is visually rife with this phenomenon.
However, we lose momentum. We get distracted. Other priorities begin to take precedence. Our motivation for that goal becomes less important over time — and the next thing you know, our gym routine has now been taken over by our Oreo eating routine. So, how we do stop becoming the hamster-stuck-on-the-wheel?
Momentum is not just about the desire to finish a goal, or to create a robust 10-step plan towards our success — it is also influenced by what we give our attention to. Sometimes losing focus on our goals has everything to do with what we allow in our to world.
The banal and trite way of saying this is that we do not have intentional boundaries and that we ultimately believe our goals aren’t really worth the effort. We don’t believe them in enough.
In the field of the science of decision making, there is a phenomenon we refer to as Decision Fatigue. “Decision fatigue is a psychological phenomenon surrounding a person’s ability or capacity to make decisions. It is also called ego depletion. The theory surrounding decision fatigue is that a human’s ability to make decisions can get worse after making many decisions, as their brain will be more fatigued.”
We make anywhere from 35,000 to 37,000 decisions in a day. We are bound to get tired, lazy, lose willpower, and even motivation. One of the major factors of losing motivation is that we could be influenced by perfection paralysis. This is the experience of feeling the anxiety associated with the demand to be perfect, and ultimately we give up because we think if we try, we might fail, so we don’t try at all.
Perfectionism is a social construct that evolved as a way to measure productivity. It was meant to be used as an organic filter from which to judge our trajectory toward goals — then we began using it to judge others when we would not meet our own goals. Perfectionism is a cultural pathology, a normalized illness we were never meant to have.
Perfection also desensitizes us to success. Mainly, to the point, because it keeps us from ever reaching any goals because it imposes a fear of possible future failures; so we believe the hype of our failures that might never happen. We let the future steal any progress in the present — by doing nothing at all. We lose any desire to move forward and become immobilized. We lose the ability to be inspired and agitated toward the better versions of ourselves. Agitation is crucial to human progress.
Restlessness, curiosity, and dissatisfaction are what gave us all the things we see around us. Questioning and digging, and even a bit of frustration fueled the desire to be more than who we are right now.
We need to bring restlessness back. Not the kind of restlessness that forces us into endless emotional frenzies and confusion — but the kind of restlessness that informs our curiosity and wanderlust for new horizons and new versions of ourselves.
In fact, according to Neuroscience — the good kind of internal agitation can bring focus, clarity, good moods, and intentionality. Now, that a string of a good chemical compounds that helps us all to accomplish important goals — corporately and individually.
“As a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, norepinephrine increases alertness and arousal and speeds reaction time. Norepinephrine has been shown to play a role in a person’s mood and ability to concentrate.”
So, are there practical things we can do to develop life strategies to induce norepinephrine? Can we cultivate practices at work and home that would help us? In short, yes. It comes down to how committed you are to your goals, and whether or not they are compelling goals at all? If they are not compelling to you, and you are willingly following someone else’s goals just to keep the peace, you will eventually give up. Fads, normalized behaviors, past conditioning, and a host of other phenomena will have a long term influence on successful goals. Start there. There are also 5 other things you can do to help positive agitation in your life through the release of norepinephrine.
- Small accomplishments.
So, if you’re struggling to get some practical motivation, try the above 5 things to develop the muscle of restless curiosity. Create strategies that empower you to embrace the positive benefits of restlessness. The benefits of doing so will ensure you have long term success in finishing your goals.