Why does someone begin a new
endeavor with such excitement, then seem to lose momentum after a
few weeks into it? Or purchase a long-awaited item, to have the
excitement turn into complacency? The dynamics of new learning
involve both mind and brain.
New learning falls into four
Initial confusion and
to launch new learning. Awareness of the unfamiliar and uncertain
registers as curiosity, or even anxiety, mixed in with excitement,
which propels momentum.
follows, both with the experience of effectiveness and with positive
results from effectiveness with movement to its own self-sustaining
“flow” and validation.
occurs when the invigoration of a learning curve’s newness levels
off and declines. This leveling off may register as
Dopamine is the brain chemical
that induces excitement by anticipating pleasure or reward. The
rush from dopamine release motivates, even to take risks. The
newness is exciting, adding to the dopamine release. But
neuroscientists have shown that anticipating a reward is even more
exciting than actually receiving it. Why? Because receiving a
reward actually shuts down the anticipatory release of dopamine,
diminishing the energy and pleasure. The central nervous system
shifts to the maintenance mode (necessary from an economic and
evolutionary perspective), primarily mediated by norepinephrine.
This shift explains the paradox
that the expectation
of an event or a purchase is more exciting than the actual
An investor will feel more
positive when expecting a stock to rise, yet feel less excited than
anticipated when it actually does.
The purchase of a big-ticket
item—such as a new car—isn’t as exciting as expected.
The “hedonic treadmill”
described by Danial Kahneman, Princeton Nobel Prize winner, occurs
when the brain adapts to a new state of wealth and possessions, and
increasing pleasure is sought.
Clients hit plateaus in coaching
or mentoring after 1-2 months.
From Paradox to Progression
Both the mind and brain
contribute to new learning and its paradoxes. Our minds seek closure
and infer causality, accurate or not. Additionally, we then defend
our position or decision, rather than examining it, making it
static. Our brains attempt to end any dissonance, even prematurely
shutting down inquiry.
So what can you do to maintain
some aspects of this excitement—or at least ladder it—to
generate ongoing creative stimulation?
Knowledge is inert until it is
activated, so put it into behavior.
Foster attitudes that promote
curiosity and openness.
Recognize and assess emotional
couplings that can derail logical choices (such as money equals
freedom, evil, or
Monitor choices and question
Probe your reasoning.
Ask: “What works?” “What
Facilitate new behaviors and
guide the development of new mental maps.
Program new identity:
incorporate your new experiences into your evolving self-concept.
You are no longer defined by your habits or your old story.
Continue to look at things in
novel ways. Everyone thought Goliath was too big to hit; David
thought he was too big to miss.
Please join me for “An Evening
With The Author” Tuesday, November 10 at 7:00 PM Eastern to
discuss The Secret
Language of Money.