5 Steps to Overcome Neomania
Obsessing over the new doesn't have to be a bad thing.
Neomania, defined as an obsession with the new, is a hallmark of American culture. You won’t find it in the dictionary, but you’ll see it in the faces of everyone waiting for the next iPhone or Android. You might even catch it in the reflection of your smart phone as you scroll through the news.
Neomaniacs find it difficult, if not impossible, to stick with anything. They bounce from job to job, town to town and bed to bed, always hungry for the next conquest. They are never fulfilled. But there’s one spot they’re conspicuously absent from -- the upper echelons of entrepreneurship.
Are you struggling to find your entrepreneurial stride? Here are five signs that you need to tone down your neomania -- and five steps to cure it.
1. You check the news first thing in the morning.
Neomaniacs prefer news over reflection. Successful entrepreneurs are the opposite. Reflection is a basic human need, right up there with food and water. You get hungry for reflection because you need it to make smart decisions. But it’s common to mistake that hunger for a need to feed on more information.
2. You’ve had more partners than you can count.
The obsession over the new isn’t limited to information. Most neomaniacs are also helpless romantics, preferring a series of shallow dalliances over a solid relationship.
3. You’ve spent more money than you’ve made on get-rich-quick schemes.
Neomaniacs’ ears perk up when they hear the latest marketing scheme. They’ll buy into anything that will distract them from sticking with what they’ve started.
4. You spend more than an hour on social media each day.
Social media is a neo-pacifier. There’s always something new to distract you from doing what you need to do.
5. You’re a job-hopper.
Neos pretend that their lack of job satisfaction has something to do with their job. But if you take pride in your work, and you do it well, you will always find satisfaction. According to legend, the 2nd Zen Master washed grains of rice for 10 years straight. How boring could your job possibly be?
What you can do.
Obsessing over the new doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you focus on doing one thing in new ways, you can put a positive spin on neomania and become an expert at anything you set your mind to.
I know so much about neomania because I was the biggest neomaniac I knew. I couldn’t stick with the same job or girlfriend for longer than a few months. My days consisted of scanning Facebook, email and the news for something to occupy my mind.
But then I started my writing career. I channeled my love for the new into finding new ways to write better, and to share my story. And within two years, I managed to create a career while shedding my old, neomaniacal habits.
Here are five tips that helped me make the transition:
Through meditation, I retrained my brain to sort through what I already knew. I’d sit quietly and observe my thoughts, noting my desire to check email or Facebook. Then I’d refuse the impulse, choosing instead to direct my focus towards gratitude or self-acceptance.
If you sit quietly for 10-20 minutes daily -- no phone, no computer -- you’ll learn how to synthesize new things from the information you already have. Steve Jobs was a meditator for this reason.
2. Limit your news intake.
I vividly remember a college lunchbreak in 2013 where I whipped out my phone and instinctively clicked to a media site. But for some reason I stopped, and asked if I actually needed to do what I wanted. The answer was no.
From that point on, I taught myself to ask that question every time I wanted to surf the web or read the news. Now I don’t read the news at all, and I find myself no less informed than anyone else. But I do find myself achieving more in my career than most people. Coincidence?
3. Limit social media to 10 minutes a day.
Social media has its purpose. But if your job title doesn’t include social media, you don’t need to spend more than 10 minutes a day on it. Any more than that will start a feedback loop of neomania.
4. Read a lot on one subject.
A funny paradox is that the more you know, the more you become aware of your ignorance. That’s why Grandmasters can study chess or kung-fu in their 80s with the same zeal as in their 20s.
If your quality of life has been degraded by a fixation on the new, unlearn that habit by fixating on one subject. Learning all that I could about writing made me appreciate how much I could enjoy doing just one thing. And it helped me unlearn my desire for a constant stream of new.
5. Start a journal.
The more you reflect, the less you’ll feel driven to compulsively seek new information. I unlearned my neomania largely by reflecting on my life with a journal. It became a game. I’d unload my previous day, search out the flaws -- the needless repetitions -- and plan on doing better the next day. I learned how to make what I already knew work for me in new ways.
You can start journaling by spending 5-10 minutes answering these questions:
- What was I most grateful for today?
- What three things did I do that made today awesome?
- What three things could I do better?
- What will I focus on tomorrow to make it the best day of my life?
Loving new stuff isn’t bad at all. We’re programmed for novelty. But how you act on your desire for novelty is a different story. Some people stretch their attention spans so thin as to be incompetent. And some focus on finding new levels of mastery in a few activities. Which road will you take?