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Why Goals Don’t Bring Satisfaction

Score! Dopamine! Repeat! Or Not

written by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD August 22, 2018
Why Goals Don’t Bring Satisfaction

Reaching a goal triggers dopamine. That feels great, but the spurt soon ends. Then you become who you were before the spurt. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can get caught up in endless efforts to stimulate more dopamine with more goal-seeking.

We’re uncomfortable with dopamine dips for good reason, of course. Unhappy chemicals command your brain’s attention the moment happy chemicals droop. Things may seem awful all of a sudden, even if they’re not.

Unhappy chemicals evolved to alert you to survival threats. They feel bad because that gets your attention. Sometimes we can relieve unhappy chemicals by fixing the underlying problem, like eating when you’re hungry or sleeping when you’re tired. But some unhappy chemicals will always be there to remind you that life is finite and you’re not the boss of the world.

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