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Novelty Addiction
13 April 2024

Novelty Addiction : A Resilience Killer

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Novelty Addiction can seriously interfere with resilience, as we confuse and conflate “Newness” with value. Those early experiences of starting something, a relationship or a hobby, are exciting and often success is easy to achieve. When that starts to be replaced with hard work and persistence, we might step away, starting a doom loop.


The constant pursuit of new experiences can undermine resilience, leading individuals, especially young learners, to abandon endeavours when the initial excitement fades. We’ll explore the differences between the beneficial aspects of facing challenges and the superficial appeal of novelty, which can result in a destructive pattern of behaviour.

  • Novelty addiction can confuse initial excitement with true value, leading to frequent abandonment of activities.
  • It’s driven by early successes and stimulating new experiences, which become addictive.
  • Persistent engagement wanes as the novelty fades, often resulting in a cycle of starting new activities without sustaining them.
  • This behaviour is reinforced socially and neurologically, making it a difficult pattern to break.
  • Balancing exploration with the importance of persistence is essential to prevent and manage novelty addiction.

Novelty Addiction : A Resilience Killer

Explore the detrimental effects of novelty addiction, differentiating it from the benefits of embracing challenges.

  • Challenge motivates growth; novelty addiction undermines it.
  • Novelty addiction emerges as choices in life increase.
  • Recognizing the trap of novelty is crucial for personal development.

We’re drawn to novelty, stimulation and challenge. Risky Kids is built on this concept that challenge is one of the most important parts of living! It motivates us, intrigues us and of course helps us to grow.

However there’s a difference between challenge and novelty. Novelty is the early stimulation that we get from starting things. New things are always challenging, but in a way they’re also easy. If we come to believe that when things aren’t novel, they’re not worth doing any more, then we start to become addicted to that feeling.

It’s a growing issue that Novelty Addiction is emerging, especially as we become more and more spoiled for choice in relationships, activities and interests. We can chase that feeling easily and often. It’s time to explore exactly why that’s the opposite of what we want though.

What Does Novelty Addiction Feel Like?

The initial excitement of novelty in learning can lead to a pattern of disengagement, known as “Novelty Addiction.”

  • Early learning stages are exciting but can lead to novelty addiction.
  • Novelty produces strong chemical attractions in the brain.
  • Frequent shifts to new activities may indicate novelty addiction.

Novelty happens early in learning. While starting new things can be a bit nerve wracking as we take our first steps, it’s also a highly enjoyable time. We meet new people, forge new relationships, build skills easily because they’re often the basics and we experience big strides in our progress.

At a neurological level, this is highly attractive to a person, especially a young person! Our brains and bodies are stimulated by novelty and it often creates chemical responses. By combining this newness and novelty with those early and easy successes, it’s a powerful cocktail to be attracted to.

When we’re looking for Novelty Addiction, it will often look like people, especially young learners, being initially excited and attracted to something, and then quickly disengaging. Claiming that they’re feeling bored, or that they’re not enjoying it any more or they want to try something new.

At Risky Kids we’ve been seeing this more and more, often coupled with families reporting that they’ve tried program after program and nothing seems to stick.

Where Does Novelty Addiction Come From?

Novelty Addiction is influenced by our neurobiology and learning phases, causing learners to often disengage when novelty fades.

  • Novelty Addiction involves neurobiology and learning support mechanisms.
  • Learners tend to quit when the excitement of newness wears off.
  • This quitting is reinforced when new starts alleviate discomfort.

Novelty Addiction is rooted in our complex neurobiology, but also the ways that we learn and the ways that we’re supported. When we’re learning, the first stage of learning is often one of the most engaging with quick progress and lots of stimulation. The second stage it all grinds to a halt, and it needs to.

When we hit this stage, many learners will disengage and quit. If they have the choice of feeling frustrated and like they’re not getting anywhere, or starting again and getting all of those feelings of newness back, it’s not a hard choice. Early learners especially don’t have a lot of experience in working through to the rewarding later stages. If a young person says that they want to quit, that something’s boring or that they want to do something else, often families or educators will want to support them.

This creates a reinforcing impact. They were unhappy, because learning had become difficult, or just not new any more, they used avoidance behaviour to try and avoid those feelings, and it worked. More importantly they get rewarded not just by reducing those tough emotions, but they also get to start something new again and get all those awesome new feel-vibes again.

Starting again and again

Zack And Novelty Addiction

Zack started Risky Kids with us and was a pretty typical kid! Right at the start he was a bit nervous, but he settled in quickly and powered through our introductory Foundation class, into the first Program Step Alpha and was on track to move into the next step, Alpha+ within about 10 weeks after that.

But then Zack’s family reached out and said they wanted to unenroll him, that he said he didn’t enjoy it any more and wanted to try something some of his friends were doing. They said that they were still trying to “find his thing” and wanted to keep exploring. This early unenrolment was something that our team wanted to investigate more, also when we hear “trying to find their thing” combined with an early enrolment it’s a trigger for us to dig deeper.

Our team got in touch with Zack’s parents and discovered that he’d actually been enrolled in 3 different programs in the last 2 years, and had stuck with each one less every time. He’d tried soccer, basketball and karate. With karate he’d only lasted 8 weeks. Each time the cycle was the same, Zack would be enthusiastic, he’d get started, the family would invest in all of the gear he needed, but then he’d lose interest.

The team explained a few of our resilience tools to them, including the Stages of Becoming which explains how the stages of learning can impact people, and of course explained Novelty Addiction and how it was likely Zack was beginning to enter a spiral. They agreed to work with the team and see if they could get Zack to persist and unlock the next steps.

The Doom Loop Effect

Novelty Addiction affects more than just hobbies, describing it as a behaviour that worsens over time through a “Doom Loop.”

  • Novelty Addiction strengthens each time we abandon non-new challenges.
  • Increased novelty needed over time diminishes resilience and persistence.
  • Early teaching of this pattern complicates future relationships and job commitments.

Novelty Addiction isn’t just a small problem that impacts kids’ hobbies. It’s a core behavioural mechanism that can be far reaching. Because of the way it functions, it also creates something called a “Doom Loop”. This is a behaviour which self-perpetuates, self-reinforces and keeps getting stronger.

In the case of Novelty Addiction, each time we step away from a challenge as it stops being new, we get the twofold reward. We avoid those emerging tough feelings of latter stage learning, and we get to experience that powerful novelty effect again. This means that the chance of that behaviour happening again gets stronger.

Finally our sensitivity to novelty and adversity begins to diminish. Things need to be more and more novel, we lose interest more quickly, and as soon as things become difficult it triggers our behaviour to head onto the next thing.

This has long term impacts for us, especially if we teach it to young people early. Not only will it create parenting challenges, as families have to move young people between a huge array of hobbies and sports, they’ll have to navigate ongoing issues with resilience instead of seeing it growing. Young people will take this with them into life later on, and jobs and relationships will hold their interest only as long as they’re new and exciting, and as soon as hard work is required they move on.

Balancing Novelty with Exploration

Balance exploration and persistence to manage Novelty Addiction among young people.

  • Exploration and persistence are both critical in youth development.
  • Forcing persistence on unenjoyable activities can be counterproductive.
  • Understanding motives for quitting helps maintain a healthy balance.

The tough part about Novelty Addiction and avoiding it is that exploration is just as important as persistence! It’s absolutely our role as guides for young people to help them to explore new things and find the ones which reflect them the most and help them grow.

We should never force young people to stick with things they’re not enjoying out of fear that we’ll be creating Novelty Addiction. But we do have to be mindful that there’s a balance to achieve.

To achieve this balance, we need to identify the reasons that a young person wants to move on from something, by working through their thoughts and feelings with them, where possible supported by their coaches and educators. For detailed info on all of this make sure to read our series on The Art Of Quitting.

Getting Out Of A Spiral

Apply strategies for countering Novelty Addiction by fostering resilience and growth through mindful intervention.

  • Identifying and intervening in Novelty Addiction can reverse negative patterns.
  • Encouraging mindfulness and reflection enhances persistence in young learners.
  • Repeated support builds a strong foundation for future resilience and determination.

When we can identify Novelty Addiction, we need to be able to intervene. Spirals work in both directions, so a Doom Loop can be turned around and turned into growing and self-reinforcing resilience and growth.

When you notice the pattern of giving up in the first stages of learning and disengagement, encourage persistence and engage with those feelings. Use the Validate and Guidance Tools from our Art Of Quitting series, combined with this tool below.

  • Mindfulness: Young learners especially won’t often have a vast repertoire of experience to draw on to help them make decisions. They often don’t know that persistence leads to success because they may never have achieved it in a deliberate way! As you guide your young person through this challenge, help them to reflect on the way that it’s feeling, and to remember it.
  • Reflection: By pushing through those moments where they want to leave and pursue novelty once more, and achieving the triumphs of later stage learning, you give your Risky Kid something to look back on. This can fuel them later, with a meaningful life experience which can shape their determination.

This will let you reinforce that persistence and determination again and again, each time becoming stronger and more powerful, and then in the future when your young person wants to leave something in the early stages, you know they’re doing it for the right reasons.

Persistence and Perseverance

Zack And Sticking With It

It was a tough few weeks for Zack’s family, as he was upset that he couldn’t avoid those hard feelings or move onto something new. They had a discussion at home though and his family explained how he was feeling was normal, but that he kept on doing this and if he didn’t learn how to be persistent, that one day he might find the thing he loves most and give up on it. His parents shared stories with him about things they’d earned through pushing through, and how at times they’d wanted to quit early on as well.

Zack’s Coaches did a few Mentoring Sessions with him as well, and they introduced him to some other Risky Kids who had felt the same way, and they all shared the way that they’d navigated those feelings. Even his Coach shared a story about how they’d given up early on things and missed out, only to go back later and realise they had just been afraid of failing.

Zack agreed to keep on working on his skills and coming to classes, the Coaches made an agreement that if he was feeling bored he needed to ask for challenges, but that he also had to keep putting effort into the classes to be able to keep building his skills. Zack kept progressing and within a short time made it into the intermediate program steps of Delta and Delta+, where he and his family reflected on how important pushing through was as he now had a whole bunch of awesome new skills and Mindsets that were helping him at school.


We shouldn’t be afraid of trying new things, but just the same we need to be balanced in our approach to exploration. Learning can be tough and difficult at times, and it can be not just easy but also enjoyable to move onto something new.

We live in a time where there’s so many things to explore, and especially with young people who we’re responsible for we don’t want to get it wrong, or stop them from being their best. It’s crucial though that we do consider what can be at stake. There’s always the case that there can be too much of a good thing.

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

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