Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When the Bloom is Off the Self-Improvement Rose

I think I may be suffering from change fatigue. 

I have seen numerous mentions of some critical period after which it supposedly becomes easier to maintain a new behavior--when change is consolidated--(ranging from 90 days to one year).  I wonder if the length of time might be partly a function of how much change is being attempted. 

During the last year, I have intentionally changed what feels like a plethora of things about the way I operate in the world.  I have established a practice of blogging five days a week; initiated and continued physical training that prepared me to compete in 5Ks and a sprint triathlon; begun attending yoga classes regularly; returned to a regular practice of writing Morning Pages; kept a gratitude journal; established and generally adhered to a schedule for writing a novel, making significant progress; become more intentional about spending recreational time with my husband; made regular meditation a routine; and begun to be more strategic about my social justice work.  In short, a fairly wholesale reform.

But very few of these activities and behaviors feel well established.  I still have to work against the temptation to backslide, but I'm no longer getting the hit off the whole project that I did in the beginning.  It's starting to feel like slogging.

I'm missing the novelty, that little kick that makes change, among the most dreaded of human experiences, also fun.  What do we do when the excitement and energy that accompany behavior change in the initial phase wears off, before the change has been incorporated?   When the new behavior, still needing effort and energy to learn, loses its shinyness and becomes more drudgery than diverting?

How do we navigate this stage of change?

Surely some wise person has written about this, some social or neuro scientist has studied it.

And there's my little buzz for today--a new area to delve into, a new niche expertise to acquire.   I research, therefore I am.  Time to fire up my library card, activate my search engines.  More later, when I'm (superficially) smarter. . . .

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