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Hacking motivation with challenges

Jun 23, 20223 minute read

“Rather than thinking of dopamine as a signal for reward (dopamine hit), it’s more accurate to think of dopamine as driving motivation & craving to go seek rewards.” - Andrew Huberman, Professor of Neurobiology at Stanford School of Medicine.

I want you to read that quote again (it’s important).

Contrary to popular belief, dopamine is less involved with pleasure and actually more involved with motivation. The motivation to go and seek new rewards is what dopamine ultimately controls.

When someone experiences pleasure without the release of dopamine, (instant gratification), it can deplete our motivation to go out and seek new rewards (our goals, dreams, and desires).

This is why scrolling social media, eating junk food, or drinking alcohol can leave most of us (if not all) feeling unmotivated to go out and accomplish our goals.

In simple terms: Pleasure without pain is the ultimate dream (and motivation) killer.

And sometimes, when you experience too much pleasure without pain and your motivation has dropped significantly below normal functioning levels, it can be hard to bounce back and have any motivation to seek out new pleasures.

That’s why when someone commits to achieving some goal–whether that be to lose a few pounds, give up sugar, or even cut out alcohol–the first thing they’ll do is buy something to help them achieve their goal (a gym membership, a sugar-free recipe book, a book on sobriety). Yet the problem with this as the first step is the buying triggers a dopamine hit long before the pain of struggling towards your goal even starts. Following that initial dopamine spike, they then lack the motivation needed to actually follow through with what needs to be done to achieve that goal.

Let’s use weight loss as our example goal:

You want to lose weight. You do some research on the best gyms to join in your local area. You buy a gym membership. But you only go once, if you ever go at all!

For some reason, you lacked the motivation to take the next steps towards achieving your goal. To you, the task at hand appeared to have an unbalanced ratio of pain to pleasure. Meaning, going to the gym and working out (pain) felt greater than the reward (pleasure). But we all know this isn’t the case, especially when it comes to your health.

This is the problem with most products, courses, and coaching programs out there. The first “hit” of dopamine actually gets released long before any pain is endured–which you’ve just learned is a recipe for failure.

So how do you sell a product, course, or coaching program that is highly effective and actually will help people achieve their goal?

You package your product, course, or coaching program into a Challenge!

Challenges are time-bound learning experiences, made up of the optimal ratio of small goal oriented steps (pain) alongside a reward (pleasure) for those who cross the finish line. A challenge ensures the pain comes before the dopamine hit of the reward, thereby increasing intrinsic motivation.

This is exactly why challenges (Ex: 7 Day Sugar Detox Challenge) work so well for people with low levels of motivation and emotional commitment. When you package your product, course, or program into a challenge, you’re able to:

  1. Create the path that you know will guide your participants to success.
  2. Offer measurable progress towards their goal each day–small “hits” of dopamine, which increase motivation.
  3. Offer a reward for those that cross the finish line (the pleasure of success)

It’s really simple when it’s broken down like this isn’t it?

Challenges are a scientifically proven way for you to engage your audience and scale your impact. When you use a Challenge, you make it much more likely that someone will reach their individual goal, while simultaneously scaling your impact to reach an endless number of participants.

Now that’s a recipe for success–for both your customers, yourself, and your business.

Here at, we’ve build the world’s best challenge platform for you. We know the science behind why challenges work and we also know how they should be structured.

We made sure we’ve done all the hard work for you. All you have to do is design your challenge and bring your customers… We’ll handle rest!If you’re interested in learning more about Framework and challenges, please sign up for a free trial or book a demo with one of our product specialists who can walk you through the product and answer any of your questions.

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