The Law of Cooling (Why We Think We’ll Change But Don’t)
The Law of Cooling
When you take a hot bowl of water out of the oven and sit it on the counter, thanks to the law of cooling, it will eventually adjust to the temperature of the room. The room temperature becomes the temperature of the bowl, and not the other way around.
The culture and the environment are always more powerful than the individual. We always fall back to the bare minimum systems we have in place.
But what is the source?
But when you place that water in the stove and light the gas, the water will heat up, and irrespective of the room temperature, it will keep its own heat. You can add more and more water to the water in the pot and regardless of the new water’s temperature, it will adjust to the temperature of the gas burning, the existing pot.
What is your motivation like?
What is your motivation like? Is it a finite source? Will it eventually go out? You can’t take the temperature from one room and bring it to another, like the oven to the wider room. It does not work that way.
Conferences, retreats, coaching sessions, therapy, pep talks, meetings and trips away… don’t just change temperature, because eventually you will adjust back. You need to set up the system of ongoing fuel, that maintains the new temperature you like. The flame.
A new system to replace the old. And you will need to know why.
Emotion and temporary windows of motivation are not flames that heat nor fridges that cool – they are not robust systems for maintaining a new temperature. They will wear out eventually and you will come back to your baseline, whatever that baseline will be. That is how emotion and moments of motivation were designed.
You are not you at the peaks of your motivation, or the pinnacles of an emotional state – these moments are outliers. The real you lives in the baseline – who you are when not acted on by outlier events. Who you are when you’re alone.
Who uses a system of motivation or emotion?
As Mark Manson says, three-year olds and dogs are governed by emotion.
If you want to know the difference between a system and a temporary flurry, answer this question: Where is the change in your schedule? Where is the new system in your schedule? Where have you written it down? For if you say that you’ll do thus, but can’t tell me when you’re doing thus, then the one thing we can be quite certain of is that you won’t do thus at all.
We always fall back to the bare minimum systems we have in place.