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  • Writer's picturePIE ONAIR

The Challenge of Habit Formation: Overcoming the Dopamine Deficit and Small Milestone Blues


Habit formation is the process through which we develop routines that become automatic over time. However, creating new habits can be challenging, especially when there is a lack of dopamine release during small milestones. In this blog post, we will explore the obstacles that hinder habit formation, the role of dopamine in maintaining motivation, and strategies to overcome these challenges and achieve lasting habit formation success.

The Struggle of Habit Formation

Developing new habits can be an uphill battle, particularly when we don't experience the immediate gratification of reaching a significant milestone. Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and rewards, and when the positive reinforcement of a dopamine release is absent during small milestones, it becomes difficult to maintain motivation and stay on track.

Dopamine and Habit Formation

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in our brain's reward system. It is released when we achieve a goal or experience pleasure, reinforcing the behavior that led to the reward. However, when we only experience dopamine release during significant milestones, it becomes challenging to maintain motivation during the smaller, incremental steps that are essential for habit formation.

Overcoming the Dopamine Deficit and Small Milestone Blues

To conquer the challenges of habit formation and the lack of dopamine during small milestones, consider the following strategies:

  1. Break down goals into smaller, achievable steps: By setting smaller, more manageable goals, you are more likely to experience the dopamine release associated with achievement. This will not only help maintain motivation but also create a positive feedback loop that encourages continued progress.

  2. Celebrate small victories: Recognize and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. This will not only provide a sense of accomplishment but also encourage the release of dopamine, helping you stay motivated and committed to your habit formation journey.

  3. Establish a routine: Consistency is crucial in habit formation. Developing a daily routine that incorporates your desired habit can help you overcome the lack of dopamine during small milestones by making the behavior a regular part of your life.

  4. Find external sources of motivation: Sometimes, internal motivation is not enough. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups to help you stay accountable and motivated on your habit formation journey.

  5. Use visual cues: Visual reminders, such as a habit tracker or a vision board, can help reinforce your commitment to habit formation and provide a constant reminder of your goals and progress.

  6. Incorporate rewards: Introduce a reward system for reaching small milestones. By providing yourself with tangible incentives, you can mimic the dopamine release associated with significant achievements and maintain motivation throughout your habit formation journey.


Habit formation can be a challenging process, especially when our brains struggle to maintain motivation during small milestones due to a lack of dopamine release. However, by breaking down goals into smaller steps, celebrating small victories, establishing routines, seeking external motivation, using visual cues, and incorporating rewards, you can overcome these challenges and achieve lasting habit formation success. Remember that change takes time and perseverance, but with the right strategies in place, you can create positive habits that enhance your life and well-being.

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