Advice To Dreamers Feeling Demotivated

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Advice To Dreamers Feeling Demotivated

What is it then that causes dreamers to slowly begin to drift away from their dreams like a boat set adrift without an anchor?  I read somewhere once that motivation is hard – failure is easy.

But maybe it is a built in mechanism carried over from our cave-women days to protect us and keep us safe.

Maybe this is our subconscious way of saying this old habit is safe:

Hello person trying to change – we see it – and we can protect you if you continue doing what you’ve always done – but if you change then something really bad could happen to you – so let’s just stop with this new habit right now…OK?

But maybe it is all in our head…

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team of Vanderbilt scientists who studied motivation found that an individual’s willingness to work hard to earn money is strongly influenced by the chemistry in three specific areas of the brain. Using a brain mapping technique called positron emission tomography (PET scan), the researchers found that “go-getters” who are willing to work hard for rewards had higher release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in areas of the brain known to play an important role in reward and motivation, the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. On the other hand, “slackers” who are less willing to work hard for a reward had high dopamine levels in another brain area that plays a role in emotion and risk perception, the anterior insula. (Source:

It appears that dream success and sticking to your dream has more to do with the health of your brain than the fact that you are perfectly capable of achieving it. Maybe the place we should launch our dreams from is to first focus on making sure our brains our healthy.

It is believed that eating a diet high in tyrosine helps with dopamine production. Maybe it’s the reason we crave chocolate. Ingesting probiotics can also help by improving your intestinal flora to assist in boosting your production of neurotransmitters. Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to immediately increase your dopamine levels.  This is why many doctors prescribe walking in the mornings for depression sufferers to increase dopamine levels and increase blood flow to the brain. Research has also shown that meditation increases dopamine and helps to improve your concentration and ability to focus.

It could even be a one-two punch disabling your dream motivation.

Maybe being motivated to work on your dream is simply a combination of brain health and our ability to roll with change.

Change can look like like a slow winding river where it appears like the river isn’t even moving, when really, in fact, it is, its just at a pace barely noticeable on the surface.  Often dreamers set their expectations too high for the type of change they want to see happen overnight–you know, the “I want to look in the mirror next week and see a size 4″ thinking. Instead of celebrating that we lost a pound, we lament that it wasn’t 20 more pounds lost, thus killing our motivation in the process.

Or change can happen very quickly and if you don’t feel like you deserve what is happening, you will invent ways to sabotage all the good that is suddenly appearing in your life. You might fall back on old habits of not responding to emails, returning phone calls, or showing up to appointments on time.  You might miss deadlines or avoid work that needs to be completed.  You might even look for reasons not to like the people who may helping you achieve success.  Quick change can really rock your emotional boat so you have to be ready to accept that change can be a good experience.

In the best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, M.D, he advises the following when dealing with change:

1. The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Find New Cheese
2. Old Beliefs Do Not Lead You To New Cheese
3. Movement in a New Direction Helps You Find New Cheese

My advice to dreamers feeling demotivated is to look at simple ways to raise your daily dopamine levels. Look to start each day with one dopamine-raising task to set your mood for the day. Then look at your daily “to-do” list and see what tasks you are avoiding. You do have a daily task list, right? The tasks you are avoiding are probably wrapped up in your level of fear towards change. Practice letting go of the fear by taking one step closer to what it is you keep putting off by doing just part of the task at hand.

And lastly, forgive yourself for not being perfect. No one is. The dream journey can get messy — it’s life. But try to do something to make yourself feel better each and every day and who knows what your life will look like in a year.

Just keep on dreaming.

Catherine Hughes
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