Staying Motivated When The Novelty Wears Off
The reality is that the thrill of something new eventually wears off. This is to be expected as just part of life. The loss of the initial thrill can be about big life events such as a new romantic relationship, a new job, or new classes at college as well as the little things in life such as a new phone or a new pair of sneakers. The day will always arrive when the novelty of something new wears off and it is just taken for granted. But can you get that feeling of excitement back? Well, maybe you can’t replicate that initial “zing” of excitement, but you can regain positive feelings with some intention and effort. The novelty can be replaced by commitment to the cause.
This principle can be applied to the setting of a goal. It can feel exciting to set a goal and to feel initially really inspired to take the small, necessary steps to achieve the goal. When something is new and exciting, your brain gets hit with a temporary hit of dopamine. It feels good and rewards your brain. This can explain how it can be fun to go buy a new whiteboard or a new calendar and put down in writing all your upcoming important dates.
At first it can feel really satisfying to complete the small tasks and work toward your goal. But after the buzzing excitement wears off, a choice must be made: continue to commit or chase that instant gratification hormone hit. To build a meaningful life, one must learn to accept the novelty wearing off and learn to view this as an opportunity to deepen the commitment.
Some people are always chasing the thrill of something new. There are those who always rush out to buy the latest iPhone or have a hard time staying at a job once they have mastered the required skills. But what to do when you can’t just go buy something? How can you stay interested in doing the necessary work to achieve your goal?
One strategy is to remember how you initially felt at the beginning of this experience. Reflect on the fun of buying new school supplies at the start of the fall semester. Or recall the rush of getting a job offer for a position you really wanted. Reminding yourself about how great it felt can bring back some of that “zing.”
Another strategy is to stick to the routines that you have created in order to achieve your goal. For example, if the goal is to be on time for work or school every day, then a morning routine is essential. At first it may have been fun to pick out a new alarm clock, or new body wash and shampoo. But then, of course, the novelty of your new morning routine wanes and you no longer find it exciting. What to do? Why not add something new to your established routine? Maybe treat yourself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte on the way to work or school in the morning? Or make a plan to meet a friend for breakfast every once in a while. Putting something new into an established routine can give you some of that “zing” back.
Staying motivated once the novelty of making changes wears off can be challenging. Try reflecting on the goals you have made and examine what is helping you to succeed. Making permanent changes is challenging, and you should feel proud when you successfully take a step to improve your life. The longer these changes are part of your routine, the easier and more natural they are to maintain. Reinforce your successes by rewarding yourself. The novelty may have worn off but the joy of achieving a goal remains!
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?