Novelty Addiction. A Doom Loop.
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Learning is itself an art, and when we learn poorly we become addicted to the “newness”
Novelty Addiction emerges when we fail to overcome challenges after a pursuit or relationship isn’t “new” anymore. The solution is simple, but challenging.
- Motivation follows learning processes We’re balanced beings, drawn to comfort but drawn to stimulation, New things are stimulating, but determination when things aren’t new creates discipline,
- The Doom Loop, shrinking resilience, increasing avoidance
- Consequences: No job or hobby will ever be satisfying, increased avoidance.
- Re-engage with challenges helps, but confronting it is the best. Beat avoidance with engagement.
Learning and Motivation. Inextricably linked.
We love to learn, and our motivation is tied to how much we feel we’re learning. But not all learning is about big progress, or even ANY progress, sometimes it’s about being determined and disciplined.
- It’s easy to be motivated early when learning,
- There’s big leaps in skill which motivate us,
- Once this is over though, discomfort emerges,
When we’re learning a new skill, starting a new pursuit or job, or even a new relationship there’s distinct stages of learning. The earliest stage is the easiest to be motivated in. While there’s the initial nerves of starting something new, we quickly settle in.
This is accompanied by big leaps, often mastering the basics of anything is fairly achievable and makes us feel good about ourselves! We’re often motivated by this, and our engagement is high.
After this initial stage though, disengagement is likely to grow as progress slows. This is when, especially young people, are likely to feel like there’s something wrong, or that it’s not “for” them. But this is the most important moment for building resilience, and making a mistake can start a doom loop.
Avoidance, Anxiety and The Doom Loop
If we continuously give up, or let our Risk Kids give up, right at this moment then their resilience and comfort zone shrinks.
- These moments are where we’ll begin to disengage,
- Learning is uncomfortable, especially in these middle stages,
- Stopping at this moment reinforces avoidance behaviours and creates a doom loop,
When young people hit these moments, especially in hobbies or sports, they’ll say “I’m bored” or “I don’t want to do this any more” and we leap in wanting to help them. But when we let them quit at this moment, we do far more harm than good.
When this disengagement moment kicks in, it’s almost always related to the increased discomfort of learning. As the novelty wears off, failure, discomfort and challenge become more prominent. This causes a re-evaluation of if we want to keep going.
If each time that occurs we stop, or change, our pursuit then what happens is that behaviour becomes reinforced. We become more likely to see that challenge as “bad”. As a result our tolerance for it becomes less and less, and each time it happens, it reinforces and our comfort zone shrinks, creating a doom loop.
Low Resilience here means low satisfaction for life.
If we’re inexperienced at the process of mastering something, whether it’s skills or relationships, then our life is going to feel very empty.
- Learning how to learn is a skill in itself,
- If we don’t learn how to persevere, we’ll only have shallow experiences in our life,
- Finding purpose is about fighting for it,
Learning how to master a skill is a skill in itself. It takes practice, experience, resilience, determination and discipline. If we’re constantly shuffled from new hobby or challenge to new pursuit when young, we never build the foundations that we need to succeed.
The outcome of this will be that no job, no relationship, in fact anything we have to work for, will feel satisfying. We’ll have learned instead that something is only right when it’s “new”, and that this “new” feeling is what signals that it’s “right”.
There’s no way for anyone to find fulfilment in life, to find “their thing” or the “right person” or job if they don’t know how to fight for it, how to face challenge and discomfort and change.
The Obstacle Is The Way. Find These Challenges.
When we face these moments, not only do we become more resilient, we also add to our lives.
- The process of overcoming novelty addiction is simple, but challenging,
- We need to guide young people through these moments,
- Being there for them is it’s own reward, even if it’s tough for educators and parents,
To overcome Novelty Addiction is relatively simple, but requires courage, especially from parents and educators. To break these doom loops we have to guide young people through these moments where they hesitate in the face of challenge.
We need to help them understand that being challenged, failing and especially that process not always being enjoyable is normal. That it’s worth it to persevere and be determined because on the other side is growth and resilience.
But it is challenging to watch young people struggle, but it’s just as rewarding for us when they succeed, and they will. We get to be there for the moments that matter most, but we have to have a thick skin as well and not be afraid to challenge them.
Novelty Addiction can lead to a spiralling doom loop where our resilience diminishes, and where we never learn to master our lives. But it works the other way as well, by learning to face those moments where challenges emerge and things aren’t “new” anymore, we can become more resilient, more experienced and more whole as a person.
Risky Kids Founder, Director of Programming
Richard Williams is a fitness industry consultant, gym owner, business coach and professional stunt actor with more than a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. With an education in psychology and criminology, Richard blended life experience as a fitness industry consultant with Spartan Race, gym owner, elite-obstacle racer, ultra-runner and professional stunt actor to create the Risky Kids program.
Richard has a passion for enacting meaningful social change through all avenues of health and wellbeing and believes that obstacles are the way. Some of Richard’s key achievements include:
- Key consultant/coordinator Spartan Race/Tough Mudder/Extreme Endurance
- OCR World Championship Finalist – Team & Solo (2015)
- OCR World Championship Silver Medallist – Team Endurance (2018)
- Professional film and television stunt performer for 15 years
Considered one of Australia’s foremost experts in the fields of fitness, wellbeing and behavioural science, Richard is frequently in demand as a guest speaker for relevant government and non-
government bodies and organisations. Speaking engagements centred on the success of the Risky Kids program, philosophy and approach have included:
- Expert speaker/panellist Sports & Camp; Recreation Victoria and Outdoors Victoria forums
- Closing expert speaker at the Australian Camps Association National Conference
- Expert speaker at the National Fitness Expo, FILEX