Today is the day that the moon will totally eclipse the sun. It’s a rare opportunity for scientists to have a unique view and allow them to study the sun in a new way. That got me thinking about the benefits of how I could condition my brain to process new ideas and solutions in a different way.
For example, have you ever felt like you were in a rut? Doing the same thing, connecting with the same people, even eating the same food week after week?
I must admit, I’m a fan of routine. Having a routine helps me maintain healthy habits. And, it can simplify life because I can almost run on auto-pilot, without having to think about what to do. Routine makes things simple and is a big time-saver!
While I love simplicity, having a standard approach or way of thinking becomes stale over time. The staleness comes from continuing to tap into the same neural pathways. That makes it difficult to come up with fresh ideas.
Neural pathways enable information to travel through the neurons (nerve cells) of the brain. Those pathways are created each time we experience something new and different. So it stands to reason that if we keep operating in the same way, those pathways get deeper, and new pathways never form.
I may be stating the obvious here, but the key to creating new neural pathways is to seek out new experiences.
Your brain will physically change and allow you to think with new perspectives.
I’m experiencing this right now because my husband and I are living in Colorado for about six weeks to escape the Texas heat in August. It’s the first time we’ve tried something like this and so far, I’m loving the benefits of the new environment and escape from all the same habits of day-to-day living.
I’m having to learn a new city, seek out new sites and adventures, meet new people, and even figure out how to operate all the functions/features of the house we are renting. I’ve made some interesting observations about how I’m navigating my new environment.
I find that I continue to look for familiarity because it’s comfortable. Most humans naturally resist the unfamiliar, but if you consider that new experiences are a big brain-booster, it changes how you view and embrace change.
Here is the impact this type of brain-boosting can have on your career: When I think about the leaders who have excelled in their career, it is due to their ability to be uncomfortable, eagerness to try something new, and openness to a wide range of work experiences across multiple functional areas.
In fact, I’ve worked with several clients to enhance their leadership programs that offer a rotation component so that future leaders have a broader business perspective beyond their initial functional area. Make career choices that offer exposure to various areas of the business, even if it means making a lateral move. It is often a differentiator in those who can lead at the most senior levels of the company.
My challenge for you: Mix up your routine, seek out new experiences – do something new every day for the next week.
My promise to you: If you give it a go, that new experience will benefit you in some way. Even if at the time it doesn’t feel like a positive experience, it will create growth and you will be better as a result of that experience.
Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at email@example.com and ask how setting up a temporary life in Colorado is boosting her brain!