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What is your "Dopamine"? Almost everyone has their own version of the "happiness drug". Technically, it is a hormone and neurotransmitter of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families that plays a number of important roles in the human brain and body.
In a gamification setting, the "dopamine effect" is associated with a sense of Achievement and the happiness that someone feels when goals are met.
In a sense, it plays the part of a motivating agent that is responsible for us taking action towards our goals, desires and needs and "rewards" us with happiness thereafter. On the other hand, procrastination, self-doubt, and lack of enthusiasm are linked with low levels of dopamine.
To keep up our need of this happy state, one way is to break our bigger goals into smaller chunks. By doing this, we can control our brain to celebrate when we hit the finish line. This way we can create a series of little finish lines which releases dopamine. It is important, however, to celebrate.
Project management methodologies and frameworks like Agile are all built around the Idea of small and more "get-able" goals. There is power in achievement, no matter how small. There are numerous other examples of this in the real world. Whenever a bigger goal is broken down and made more achievable, the idea is to keep the people involved more motivated throughout. Think about the following:
- School systems
- Weight loss/ diet programs
- Gaming systems (Duh!)
- Learning a new language (bad words first?)
As leaders and parents, we can help by recognizing accomplishments of the people that might look up to us. The celebration does not need to be big either. Acknowledgement of the achievement via words, written or spoken, can be enough. The idea is not to wait for major accomplishments but to continue motivating by celebrating and honoring those small wins too!
It does not matter what role we play at any given time. It would appear that we must all invest in having and maintaining our Dopmaine Effect.