What Do You Do When the Novelty Wears Off?

Remember how it felt when you first got your mobile phone?

If you’re like me you probably kept pulling it out of your pocket just to feel the smooth contours and to document almost everything you encountered.

But then, as time moved on and you became familiar with the device and its apparent limitations. Eventually it became little more than a part of your everyday scenery.

The novelty and excitement of the early days had worn off.


The Novelty Will Disappear

We often forget that this is to be expected; it’s a part of life.

I mean, are you telling me that it hasn’t happened to just about every bit of clothing, every technological device/online tool, car, fragrance, bag, and even friendship/relationship you’ve ever had?

There comes a day when the novelty wears off and you take it for granted. Maybe you even start to believe that the reason you’re not happy is because you need to replace this object. In fact there is a humungous industry dependent on this…retail.

We have been trained to believe in the power of eternal novelty. Every company tells us that their product or service is the answer to our search for meaning and happiness. Every advert is designed to make us connect deeply to the feeling that ‘if only we had that’ then we would be more complete.

The Sign of Novelty Degradation

I try to journal every day.

It’s the first thing I do after waking up and making a cup of coffee. But over the past few months I have been inconsistent, to say the least.

I have only managed two or three times a week. And even those days I have managed to show up I haven’t written much.

I realised there was a problem when I caught myself this morning looking at other journalling apps/software.

Shock horror.

I managed to nip things in the bud before internally muttering the dreaded phrase; ‘if only I had a new platform on which to journal, then I’d start doing it properly again’. But that’s certainly where things were heading.


Remember the Feeling

I opened Day One and went back to the very first entry in 2012. I had bought the computer a month before, keeping it locked away in a cupboard before my birthday. It was a difficult exercise in self-control. This is what the first entry says:

“My birthday. I have just set up my new MacBook Pro. After months of hearing about it, I have finally been able to download Day One. This is exciting. I will now go and have a shower.”

It might not look like it but this is a display of demonstrable joy.

Day One was the first app I downloaded and one I used consistently on a daily basis. It completely revolutionised my work flow, creativity, and life in general.

It is a tool that ticks the box that I require a tool to tick; to be so useful that you don’t notice it exists. In other words it doesn’t get in the way of what you are trying to do with it, i.e. to journal.

It allows me to do that with such ease, synching between my laptop, phone, and a tablet if I was to get one. Within seconds I have a page open and ready for me to start typing.

As I remembered the feeling I had when I first started on my birthday I began getting excited again. What an opportunity and what a great tool. My attention turned to my attitude – the problem wasn’t about how I was journalling. That doesn’t matter. It was about my belief that maintaining a discipline or habit should be easy, and could be solved by a piece of software.

The Opportunity to Commit

Novelty wears off with tools; it’s inevitable and in fact good. When it happens it becomes time for the serious work to happen. Novelty is replaced by commitment to the cause.

When something is fun, exciting, and new you get a temporary hit of dopamine and norepinephrine, which feels good and rewards your brain. Initially this is caused by the thing itself; a new relationship, a new piece of technology, a new pair of shoes etc.

But after the novelty wears off we are faced with a choice. To commit or to chase that instant gratification hormone hit. To build effective and meaningful things we must embrace the novelty wearing off, seeing it not as a shame, but as an opportunity to deepen our roots.

Love in a deep and lasting relationship is not defined by it being constantly distracted, “butterflies-in-the-stomach throes of passionate romance” as it perhaps was in the early days. It is built on a daily renewal of commitment to the other person.

Commitment is demonstrated through sacrifice, devotion, and the rejection of our own selfish desires. This is not always easy and that’s the point.

Good things happen when we commit to choosing to pursue what is right, necessary, and often contrary to our egotistical desires, not what is easy.

Over to You

Question: What do you do when the novelty wears off? Are you quick to replace and change things? Please leave your answer in the comments below.

  1. I really liked this article. I have had a habit of trading in girlfriends and vehicles as soon as the novelty wears off. It’s like as soon as I get to the point that I’m not excited anymore, my brain tells me “she must not be the one,” or “you need a car that fits you better.”

    I’m glad I didn’t stay with some of the people I dated because I truly was changing as a person, but now I need to appreciate what I have because it’s such a great fit. I’m just hoping to be prepared for when my brain tells me otherwise.

    1. Hi Bo! Yeah it’s those lines, “she must not be the one” and “you need a car that fits you better”, that can really sabotage us! Recognising when it’s true and when it’s just a pattern – that’s the challenge. Remember this comment when your brain tries convincing you otherwise in the future! 🙂

  2. Great article! I was pondering this morning why my life doesn’t excite me like it use to. Then I took a look around me and notices a lot of my projects remain half finished. You’re absolutely right. It is about commitment and seeing something through. I think this is a wisdom that comes as we get older.

  3. I think the tricky part about novelty lies in its ability to inspire… It sparks our imagination by its newness. So, I try modifications instead of replacements. Tiny little shifts (in a long-run project, etc) that maintains a sense of novelty and gives me that kick of inspiration. Work the system. 🙂

    1. Totally, Mandy! I go for the modification approach too. It’s why I often tweak parts of my website. It keeps things fresh for me and brings the same internal response to having something brand new without starting all over again! I like the way you define that…modifications rather than replacements to invite inspiration. 🙂

  4. Sometimes the novelty does wear off–although when it comes to making music, I don’t think that will ever happen to me. If creativity isn’t forthcoming or it gets frustrating, taking a break from it completely helps much. This applies to anything in life that we risk getting ourselves burnt out. Then when we return to it after a time, it does seem new again, and we can often bring a fresh perspective to it as well.

    1. Yeah, totally get that! I think being aware of those burnout warning signs is very important. I find with creative stuff that space away (even just a tiny bit) can rekindle a new sense of excitement.

  5. While I’m human, and so suffer with this, I dont get it as bad as many. I think this is mainly because rather than losing the novelty value of something, I find something new to do with that something

    Like when I recorded an album outdoors, it added novelty to something that was already there by doing it differently

    Imagination I guess is key, coz I’ve always done it, back to when I was a wee nipper and I’d use my transformers and he-man figures in the same game, sometimes baddies would become good guys and vice versa. I didn’t have or pine for anything new, I just used what I already had in a new way

    I guess that’s key with relationships as well – go to a new restaurant, see a new film, try sleeping on different sides of the bed

    And one way to make sure the novelty and excitement goes is to fall into one of the traps you did “I’m going to do … every day”

    I kind of feel like I should add at least 1 youtube video every week. I sometimes do, but I often dont – and if I forced myself to, I’d soon become seriously annoyed at the constraints I placed upon myself and do it less than if I let if flow naturally

    1. I love the idea of doing things differently. Recording an album outdoors I’m sure gave you new things to consider, problems to overcome, and unexpected positive results at the end! And yeah you’re totally right, the WAY that we commit is important to consider – simply saying ‘I’m going to do…everyday’ as you say is not going to end well. Sometimes these kinds of constraints can cause problems, feeling like you’re trapped etc. You have a great attitude to this, Lew!

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