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Stay Motivated Using the Psychology of Newness | Connections #1

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Heyo! Welcome to another new type of show called:


When Maddi and I are reading these books, we often come across familiar concepts that we recognize from other books.

Connections is our platform for putting all these connections together.

In this show we’re doing the psychology of novelty or newness -

More specifically, how to use the effect of newness to stay engaged and motivated.

So here we go!

So we'll start easy with the neurophysiology of novelty.

In Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson, the book we’re working on now, he presents a mechanism in the brain called the orienting reflex, also known as the orienting response. It’s the brain’s response to novelty, or new situations, that present themselves along your path.

Your aim, new thing, orienting reflex.

It's part of the limbic system, a deep, automatic part of the brain all about emotion, memory, and motivation.

“The ‘Limbic unit’ generates the orienting reflex (...) It is the orienting reflex, which manifests itself in emotion, thought and behavior, that is at the core of the fundamental human response to the novel or the unknown.”

The new and unexpected thing, that has put itself in your way, pulls and aims your motivational systems like a magnet. It draws attention, sparks emotion, and revs up engagement by awakening the fundamental systems within the brain.

So you can use newness to give yourself energy and motivation.

And Dan Pink tells us how…

According to Dan Pink’s psychological thriller, When, the book about the psychology of all things “time”, motivation is at a high whenever you start something anew.

Think of how you feel at the start of a new decade of your life, the beginning of a new project, or the start of a new year…

You’ll throw the iron around, sprint the treadmill, and only eat lettuce once the New Year starts.

It’s a fresh start, a new page, a clean slate…

One way to use this novelty-derived motivation is to schedule fresh start days. Dan Pink says there preexists 86 different days in a year that you can use as a fresh start day. They include Martin Luther King Jr. day, Groundhog day, New Year’s day, etc.

The only pitfall, is the one we recognize… Interest declines. After those few weeks of all out health, we find ourselves back to scraping the cheese of our burger paper, the only vegetable in our lives being ourselves.

The pitfall is that motivation fades.


The 12 Week Year takes care of this pitfall.

There’s a concept in fitness called: sports periodization. It was first popularized in the fitness program: P90X. It’s about switching around your workout often enough to keep your body and mind continuously engaged.

The 12 Week Year transmutes this periodization concept into scheduling, in order to keep you engaged throughout your big projects.

To use it, smartly break your big goal apart into smaller goals, so instead of losing interest throughout a 30 day project, break it up in your calendar into ten 3-day mini goals.

Taking one orienting-reflex-producing, motivation-inducing, fresh-start and turning it into ten fresh starts, maintaining your pursuit of your ultimate goal but constantly being re-energized by the new pursuits and the accomplishing of your mini goals.

And even when it comes to your fundamental motivations, the reasons why you pursue your projects and health goals in the first place, use novelty.

One of my favorite quotes by Grant Cardone in Be Obsessed or Be Average:

“The geniuses know how to re-boot constantly,”

Stay motivated by keeping things fresh. Find new motivational quotes. Replace old posters with new ones. Write and think over new reasons to keep up your pursuits.

When motivation wains, re-amp with novelty.


Our motivations to novelty are so deep they sit within the system of our brain that helps keep us alive. We should use this natural novelty response intentionally in order to do better and we can do this by characterizing all sorts of moments as new opportunities or new pursuits. And when our projects are too long, smartly break them down into smaller projects to keep getting that bump of deep motivation. And especially when we’re wondering why we’re even trying, you can re-energize your mind and environment with newness that inspires and reminds you.

I hope you liked that our first edition of our new show was about newness.

The next thing that comes out will be our show on Maps of Meaning.

This has been a beast that we have been fighting off and on for months now. But it’s my drop dead favorite book I’ve ever read and it’s really complicated and I’m not sharpest fork in the toolbox but I really want to do it justice. So that’s coming.

I wanted to think of a really good outro

But I couldn’t




Quick other thought that I had, I wonder if the effect of novelty has anything to do with the phenomenon of beginner’s luck. The restaurant that I work at has a pool table, and I sometimes see people that are just starting out beat people who have been playing for much longer. I wonder if the extra engagement you get from first figuring out how to play can actually make you play better, in some cases, than someone who’s already formed their playstyle. Just a thought.

Maybe beginner’s luck actually is a thing because of that novelty response – but maybe not.

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