I wrote a blog post about a month ago to explain the differences between first times and new experiences. In it, I start touching a bit on the topic I want to dig further into today.
I started out by explaining how new experiences are always first times but first times are not necessarily new experiences.
I laid out the example with Yoga. Here it is as a reminder.
The first time I did yoga, it was a first time and a new experience. I took a class with a friend many years ago when I lived in New Orleans.
When I was in Belize, a few years ago, I did yoga for the first time outside and on a rooftop. A couple of months ago, I did yoga outside again, but this time, with goats – doing yoga (or anything for that matter) with goats was a first. The common experience is yoga but that experience is changed by circumstances, the environment, and hopefully soon; what I can actually accomplish.
The last part of the sentence I italicized is what I want to further discuss in this blog post.
Achieving something you’ve never done – is also a first time. Learning how to slice and dice your goals/achievements into first times is an excellent way to get yourself to be excited, inspired and motivated (hacked) to reach your goals through the release of dopamine.
Slice, Dice, and Hack.
Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Dopamine was originally known as just a feel-good “chemical”. It was assumed it was released in conjunction with having pleasurable experiences.
Today, a lot more is known about it. Researchers have realized it’s also key to helping us think, plan, stay focus, and find things interesting, to name a few. The anticipation of doing and accomplishing something important or interesting to us releases dopamine, which in turn helps us have the proper state of mind to get it done. Meaning, it isn’t just released after you do something, but in the anticipation of achieving something.
With that knowledge and information in mind about dopamine, think about the higher-level goals you want to achieve – how can you break them down into first times so you can get excited about completing a first, and therefore, release dopamine to give yourself the boost in motivation, focus, and inspiration to make things happen?
Slice and Dice into Firsts to Be Excited
Getting excited versus nervous, anxious or scared is also critical to meeting your goals. Excitement drives you forward while being nervous, anxious or scared can drive you into fight or flight mode or getting stressed (releasing cortisol). You don’t want the latter. That’s when you lose momentum and spend more energy calming yourself down then performing what needs to be done.
Slice and Dice a Handstand
Let me return to the yoga example to provide a simple breakout of what I mean. I want to learn how to do a handstand. I found a website with a great article called 7 Steps to Defy Gravity and Balance in Handstand. My approach to earn myself my first handstand is to break it down into those 7 steps and count each of them as a first time on my way to my handstand. After getting the hang of one step, I go to the next first in the series. In the process, I’m getting excited and releasing dopamine to keep me going even if I happen to face some setbacks.
I might find myself going through all seven steps quickly, or it might take me some time, but I’ll have the memory of past success to also keep me going and fuel the excitement to reach the next level until I get to my overall goal.
How can you slice and dice what you’re currently working on, goal, or things you want to achieve?