Expect the novelty of a new system to wear off

ADHD Business Tips Expect the novelty of a new system to wear off.

I know you’ve been there before.. those times when you’ve been down the hyperfocus rabbit hole and found a new “thing” – a strategy, system, software etc – that you’re super excited to start using and you just know this one will be a game changer. You’re *pretty* confident that this thing is better than all the other “things” you’ve tried before!

Fast forward to a few days/weeks/months down the track you’ve given up.. it didn’t work out how you expected and now you’re tasked with finding something new while you deal with the self-inflicted shame of yet another “failure”.

I have a great habit tracking app on my phone which around once a year I’ll get excited about! I’ll open it up and add some habits, or meddle with the ones I added last time, and then make a point to check in frequently to check off my habits and feel great about my growing streak. Until inevitably, one day usually a few months later, I get cross about all the demands the app is placing on me and I start to ignore it.. eventually it stops sending me notifications and I forget about it til I want the reward of a new habit streak!

There’s a real buzz when we find a new solution to a problem or challenge that we’re having. The eternal hope and optimism that this might be the thing we’ve been waiting for can be hard to temper. Enthusiasm takes over as we get a dopamine reward for engaging with the new and novel.

But sadly, it’s often short-lived. The initial excitement and motivation surrounding a new system or strategy will often fade over time, much to our dismay. This can be the result of several factors related to ADHD:

⛔️ Novelty Seeking

We have a natural inclination toward novelty and variety and thrive on new experiences and stimulation. While a new system may initially capture interest, the novelty wears off as the routine or “thing” becomes familiar and predictable.

⛔️ Executive Function Challenges

ADHD affects executive functions, including organisation, planning, and follow-through. Sustaining interest and maintaining consistent use of a system or strategy can be extra challenging due to difficulties with self-regulation and task persistence.

⛔️ Impulsivity

Impulsive tendencies are common in those with ADHD brains, leading to impatience and a desire for immediate results. If your new system doesn’t deliver quick outcomes or requires ongoing effort, it may be abandoned in favour of seeking out something more immediately rewarding – like scrolling your social media feed.

⛔️ Hyperfocus & Distractibility

While hyperfocus might have been what lead you to your new “thing”, it can also become its biggest threat. Subsequent hyperfocus episodes can cause you to neglect other aspects of your routines or systems, easily throwing you back off track despite even the best intentions.

As the novelty of a new system wears off, our reactions can vary. They might include:

😒 Boredom

Once the initial excitement and interest fade, a sense of boredom may set in. The routine or system that was once intriguing may now feel monotonous or uninteresting.

😒 Frustration

You might become frustrated with the system’s perceived lack of effectiveness or how difficult it is to maintain consistency. It’s easy to feel disheartened if you don’t see immediate or expected results.

😒 Restlessness

Restlessness can develop when the “thing” becomes predictable or too structured. Because you crave stimulation and variety the loss of novelty can lead to a sense of restlessness or the desire to seek out new experiences.

😒 Disengagement

Waning novelty can result in decreased levels of engagement with your system or routine. You might find yourself neglecting or procrastinating on tasks associated with the system, finding it increasingly harder to sustain motivation and focus.

😒 Discouragement & Shame

The loss of novelty can be really discouraging and lead you to question the effectiveness of the system or your ability to stick with it (or any other system!). You might feel ashamed, defeated or start to lose confidence in yourself.

It’s important to understand that these kinds of feelings and reactions are pretty normal when the novelty wears off.  By acknowledging and addressing them can we start to take the necessary steps to reignite our motivation, find new ways to make the system engaging, or explore alternative strategies that better align with our needs and preferences. We can accept that this is just another part of the process, even if it is an annoying part that we’d rather not deal with!

When we know that even the best and most stimulating systems are unlikely to work for us over the long term, we can avoid the judgement and shame spirals that we often slide into even without meaning to. We can focus on maximising the benefit we get right now, making hay while the sun shines, and remember that no matter how long it takes for the novelty to wear off it’s not another failed “thing” if it worked at some point.

So then, what to do when we reach that point where the newness has faded, and the initial excitement has worn off? Do we give up and move on to the next thing, or spend the time to reassess and tweak the current thing?

The answer of course will depend on lots of factors so I can’t answer that here! I do advise my clients to keep a master list of the systems or “things” that have worked for them in the past so they can revisit forgotten solutions and cycle through them when appropriate. But if you’re not ready to concede defeat here are some ideas to help you push on:

✅ Incorporate Variety

Introduce variations or modifications to the system to keep it fresh and engaging. In the case of my habit tracking up this could mean trying a new app, changing up the habits I’m focusing on or even just altering the frequency of a habit to better suit my current circumstances.

✅ Set Realistic Expectations

Consistency and long-term commitment are needed for sustained benefits but often we set the bar way too high and forget why we’re even doing the “thing”. Reconnecting with the goals and benefits of the system can help us to stay motivated, even when the initial excitement fades by moving the dopamine reward from the doing phase to the outcome itself.

✅ Seek Accountability & Support

Engage with the people around you or share your progress with a supportive network. Accountability partners, support groups, or coaches can help you stay on track and provide encouragement when motivation is a struggle. A program like Execute is perfect for this.

✅ Embrace Flexibility

It can be challenging especially if you’re AuDHD or have a lot of rules about how things should be but allowing yourself the flexibility to adapt and refine the system as needed can be invaluable. Recognise that what works at one point may need adjustments over time and embrace trial and error to find what works best for you.

By accepting that the novelty will wear off and proactively addressing it with the right support it’s possible to develop the strategies you need to maintain consistency and continue reaping the benefits from your chosen “thing”.

And if it’s not possible, then you can add it to your master list of solutions and find a new “thing” to move forward with.

Just don’t expect it to last forever! 😉

See you next week,

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