What do dealerships know about motivation? A lot.

Car dealerships are experts in the art of motivation. It’s an exact science for them. They’ve invested tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in perfecting the practice. The whole experience from the moment you walk into the dealership door is architected to instill in you the maximum motivation to sign that paper and drive away in something new.

One of their greatest tools? The test drive.

See, it’s one thing to just think about buying a car, maybe even thumbing through one of their marketing brochures, each page bursting with stunning graphics that make the cars seem larger than life. Still, at this point, it’s just intellectual.

But once you open the door, slide in and sit down, once you grasp the wheel, smell the leather, and hear the engine turn, and most of all, once you put your foot on the gas and drive away from the lot, they’ve set you up in an optimal position to purchase.

By doing this, they’ve accomplished something crucial. They’ve gotten you to visualize yourself, in the most compelling and realistic way possible, what it would be like to drive away in that vehicle. That vision, that experience, is now indelibly imprinted into your memory, stored mostly in your brain’s hippocampus.

At this point, your brain is also producing mass quantities of dopamine, the neurotransmitter primarily involved in reward and motivation. Once higher dopamine levels are associated with a particular experience, the drive to repeat that experience is profound. It’s how we learn new behavior. And they know that. They’re highly proficient at what they do.

So if you are interested in figuring out how to create enduring motivation, either in yourself or in others, you should look to and learn from the experts.

If there’s something you want to accomplish, if there’s a position you want to hold, if there’s someone you want to be, if there’s a goal you want to achieve, then go through the dealership process. All of it.

The first step is to get to the dealership, figuratively speaking, and look through the marketing brochures. Find out about what you want to do, deconstruct it, soak it up, learn all about it, envelop yourself in it. At this point, your mind will be absorbed in it.

A famous plastic surgeon who studied behavior commented that people tend to move toward their most dominant thought process.

Make the achieving of that goal your most dominant, recurring thought process.

Then take a test drive. In as much detail as you can, imagine yourself in that position or having achieved that goal. This type of visualization creates a compelling experience for your mind, an experience that your mind wants to repeat, but in a more tangible way.

Cognitive psychologists know that the mind does not distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. This is why when you think about something that angers you, even if fictitious, your heart rate will accelerate and your body will respond as though it were actually real. It’s why you can wake up from a dream in a cold sweat.

The more you visualize yourself at the end of the road, the more compelling will be your motivation to get there.

This is why professional athletes spend hours watching video of other professionals, studying their golf swing or their technique at whatever it is they do. This is why the world’s best leaders spend so much time painting as clear a picture as possible of the destination. Visualization is a powerful and compelling mechanism in motivation.

So if you know what you want to do, take a mental test drive. Feel the wheel, smell the leather, and listen to the hum of that engine.

You’ll find your desire to make that vision a reality increases a hundredfold, which is an important aspect of engineering yourself to persevere as you set out to accomplish your dreams.

Good luck.


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