The Story Economy Blog

The Two-Month Rewiring Phenomenon (Change Takes Time)

The summer after I graduated from college, I studied for six weeks in London. I have many vivid memories of the jet-lagged bus ride from Gatwick Airport to our dorms at Kings College, and one of them is seeing huge billboards of Tom Cruise’s face, promoting Mission Impossible as “Coming Soon!” I knew that it had already been running for months in the States, so I asked the guide on the bus: “Why are they so behind over here?” I can’t remember the exact words of his answer, but it was something to the effect of: They’re not behind (you silly American girl who thinks the U.S. is the center of the world). They just have their own stuff going on.

For the past year, I’ve felt like a UK movie poster that says “coming soon” for something that’s long past fresh.

I seem to be perpetually two months behind the insights I’m writing about, because I have my own stuff going on. For example, in November, I wrote a piece about how my new brand is built on connection. It wasn’t until after my business retreat a few weeks ago that I really got what that meant, and changed my home page, story page, and about page to reflect it. When did I take this action? Almost two months to the day of writing the original newsletter. I mean, when I wrote that newsletter, I deeply believed it. But it still took time for my day-to-day/how I do business self to catch up. I can go back through my newsletters and see this time and time again.

It used to happen all of the time when I wrote for women’s magazines, too. I’d interview brilliant researchers about stuff I dig like sports psychology, and write about their findings/insights for a magazine article—distilling it down in a common sense way for readers. And then it would hit me in the middle of a run—two months later—how that research finding or expert insight perfectly applied to my exact situation.

Learning by Writing

I think it’s because I learn things by writing them. And then I process them. And then I see their place in how I live my life and work with clients. For me, ideas funnel from intellectually getting it . . . to emotionally feeling it . . . to a “wow, that was obvious” moment. I write it long before I truly understand it at my core.

I think there is something real to this two-month phenomenon. Sports psychologists who study how habits are formed often say that it takes about eight weeks to really form a habit, because that’s how long it takes to (a) create a routine you don’t have to constantly think about, and (b) do some neurological rewiring. Our muscles adapt insanely quick: if you do the same workout three times in a row, by the third time, your body already remembers it and has figured out how to do it with less effort. But brain wiring is another matter. I’m sure there is an evolutionary explanation, somehow related to maintaining the species. But all I know is that as much as I write about just all of the sudden “getting it,” Carrie Bradshaw voiceover-style, it never really happens that way.

What’s my message here? Good question. I need another two months to really know! But I think it’s this: don’t let the fact that you don’t totally understand how what you want to say affects your life and your business stop you from writing it. I mean, don’t spew out a bunch of BS. But don’t worry if you don’t know how your new insights will change your Thursday afternoon or the way you engage a new client.

You’ll rewire. It will happen. Be patient.

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  • Copper Cats Are Good |

    Posted by Copper Cats Are Good | on 07/31/13 2:40am

    [...] I suspect it happens sometime around the age of 10. I could write a whole newsletter bemoaning this. But what’s the point of that? Instead, I want to think about how it’s still possible, with a little rewiring. (Yes, I do believe we can rewire.) [...]

  • description

    Posted by description on 08/11/13 10:55pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post

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