It seems that most of us find lots of comfort in our routine. We do things at home or work a particular way, and we want it to be that way. If you've ever had or cared for young children, you know how important routines can be, for the children's wellbeing and your sanity.

But what kind of things are you missing when you stay in your narrow lane of comfort? What opportunities is your brain missing out on?

The Comfort Of The Same-Old, Same-Old

You likely wake up at a particular time and get ready for a workday pretty much the same, whether it's Monday or Friday. Has your morning routine ever been thrown off?

Perhaps you had an early meeting, or your car wouldn't start, or you had a stubborn child who refused to get dressed. The rest of your day likely felt rushed and maybe even awkward. We get so comfortable that we have a difficult time adjusting to even small changes.

I began to realise how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do.

Roald Dahl

Neuroplasticity Means Your Brain CAN Change

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to adapt and change. When we complete our routine tasks, we create strong neural connections. These connections can be difficult to unravel. Stepping out of your comfort zone (deviating from your routine) means that your brain will have to adapt and create new connections.

Research is attempting to create large-scale brain models. Supercomputers can now model a billion neurons. However, these models do not capture the plasticity mechanisms that operate in our minds. Computers simply cannot predict what changes a human brain may undergo in response to various stimuli (Butz, 2016).

You Can Learn a New Trick Or Two

You've probably heard the expression 'You can't teach an old dog a new trick'. This old idiom reinforces the thought that changing up our routines and habits is hard to do. Being adaptable is an important trait, however, in both your professional and personal lives. Adaptability means that you are versatile, you can handle uncertainty, and you realise when you need to self-correct.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone will help rewire your brain. Instead of following your exact morning routine, get up ten minutes earlier and spend a few moments with nature. Stand in your backyard or on a balcony and take a moment to breathe. If you usually drink coffee, try a cup of tea. If you skip breakfast, take the time to eat. Take a different route to work. Ride the bus or take a bicycle instead of driving, if you can.

Our set routines make us slip into a comfortable cycle. But your brain isn't exercising when you do the same thing every day. Introduce new ideas and new ways of completing your old tasks. Your brain is an amazingly complex organ, and stepping out of comfort zone will keep your brain nimble and improve your Agility.

Butz, M., Schenck, W., & van Ooyen, A. (2016). Editorial: Anatomy and Plasticity in Large-Scale Brain Models. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 10, 108.

Originally posted on: 25 May 2017
Last updated on: 25 May 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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