22 in 22: Dopamine, Flow and Becoming Royalty

After a slow start outta the gates yesterday, we did finally get off to the races once we started talking about how I plan to “get my geeky on” and “get my grit on” with my creative projects as part of my 22 goals in 2022.

Here are the next three:

#8 Mitigate the Dopamine Loop

Originally, I wanted this particular goal to deal with my tendency to be like a cat watching birds at a bird feeder whenever those little red badges would appear on my screen to indicate that I had a new message. Do not get me started on how disappointed I would feel when it would just be an “iOs Update Tonight” message. Ugh. But I managed to figure out how to get rid of almost all those little red circles with numbers on them, which, I suppose, was a fairly easy mitigation technique.

However, it did not check the “checking” behaviors, which are terribly annoying to me. In the last few days, it has been related to my insistence on refreshing ad nauseum the stats on my Spotify and Apple Podcasts accounts to watch the numbers increase.

The Dopamine Loop, for the uninitiated , is when you just need a little hit of stimulation, which, as part of the folie du siècle, comes most easily from Social Media, but can be experienced in other ways.

Like when you’ve chatting online with someone and you go back to check your messages, as if by habit, even though you have nothing left to say. And the problem is, even though you know you have nothing to say, you are still disappointed when there are no messages. That is the dopamine loop.

Dopamine is that little feelgood chemical our bodies release when we do discover a new message, or a positive podcast review, or that the numbers increased since the last time you checked… It comes from “likes” and “follows” and “listens” and “shares” and “views” and “new messages”. Ugh.

There is inherently power in feedback. What I need to figure out is how not to let feedback rule my days, so that I can get about the very important work of making magic.

In the book of Nehemiah, there is a verse when Sanballat and his minions are giving Nehemiah a hard time while he’s building the wall (let’s pretend that those guys represent the Dopamine Loop). Nehemiah says the following:

“I am doing an important work and cannot come down.”

Nehemiah 6:3

I want to learn how to say that to the Dopamine Loop. I may need to get my Fairy Godmother involved in this.

#9 Know the Flow

This goal is in two parts: 1. know my process 2. know how long it takes.

In the Pantheon of Geekery that really turns me on, up there with a retroplanning and a carefully crafted Venn Diagram, is the flow chart. (Please, everyone, take a reverent moment of silence and whisper it meditatively: flow chart.)

This particular flow chart is of the most sacred sort, in that the one I am talking about is actually about my creative flow. (There will be a more in-depth look at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his study of this mystical, mysterious, but psychologically sound principle forthcoming.)

I know my creative process for writing a novel like the back of my hand. When I start getting the first ideas for a new story, I have to clear my calendar for a week. Do not expect anything from me, do not think for a second I will call you back, answer your text message or check my email, because I will be brainstorming and writing character sketches and researching weird historical facts like when did people start tattooing themselves and how did they do it, the process for turning flax into linen and Googling strange burial rites from around the globe. (All for the same book. It’s a very good one, and I am certain you will be excited to read it once an agent is willing to take a chance on me and my series.)

I have had the exact same process, with this exact same intensity, since I was eight years old. Thank goodness Google did not exist then. But we did have the Encyclopedia Britannica in our basement, which I have probably spent a collective solid two years of my life reading for inspiration.

Well. As it happens, I now have a new creative endeavor: my podcast. I know there is flow to it, in the Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sense of the word. I know, for example, my best ideas happen while I am driving and cannot do anything with them..so I have to let it simmer and mature until I can get somewhere and record it or write it down.

I know that I have to be in the mood to record…I can’t just make myself record, or else it won’t sound right. Likewise, when making the visuals for social media (I won’t go so far as to call it graphic design, but I do like to think of myself of someone who knows what she wants in this domain), I can be completely ditz-brained and distracted by interesting people and interesting conversations, but it won’t matter, because it is my eyes and my hands doing the work, not my mind.

I need to learn to recognize the moments when my focus shifts, and I am in the mood to record, or in the mood to plan. Ahhhhh, the benefits of working for oneself are myriad.

I also need to recognize when it is that the most productive thing I can do is to take a nap.

There is, naturally, the dreaded learning curve, the “not knowing how long anything actually takes…” So I need to figure that out and be able to plan. That’s part of the process.

#10 The KPI of Becoming Podcasting Royalty

I have no idea what the Key Performance Indicators of podcasting are, or how to find them. While I have read the “getting your podcast off the ground” chapters of my podcasting Bible, Everybody Has A Podcast Except You with the same passion I read about why the Arras culture, 2500 years ago in the British Isles, spiked swords into a warrior’s groin prior to burial, I have not plumbed it for its wisdom on how to get people to actually listen to it.

Now I need to know what measurables there are to getting the podcast to the masses. I am giddily fortunate, in that an old friend from grade school with whom I have stayed in contact with over the last thirty-some years, someone who has extensive marketing experience in the (horror) film industry, has offered to help me look into this and bring his expertise to the subject. I guess at some point, we all need a new challenge. A Fairy Godmother might be a welcome change from slasher films.

Podcast? Did somebody say Podcast? Whether you need just a teeny tiny dose of Fairy Dust, or you have a solid 30 minutes for a heart-to-heart, check out Sing With Your Feet. You might be glad you did.

Better yet, share it with someone you love who hasn’t heard it yet. And rate and review too.

Bippity! Boppity! Boo! You have plenty of work to do!

Episode 64: The Golden Rule Rules Sing With Your Feet

In this last episode before the summer hiatus, Lily talks about this year's challenge to live out the Golden Rule and some of the hiccups that have appeared along the way.
  1. Episode 64: The Golden Rule Rules
  2. Episode 63: Foresight
  3. Episode 62: Memory
  4. Episode 61: Novelty
  5. Episode 60: How to Have Great Sex

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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