If any of my close family or friends were to point out the one person they know who is most comfortable in their rut, it would be me. I am the type of person that clings to routine. Or maybe I should say clung (past tense), as I’m starting to become a believer in that old phrase “variety is the spice of life”.
Let me give you a little background. In fourth grade, I dropped out of the local gifted program. In junior high school, I dropped the chance to go to the Early Entrance Program at the UW. I went to the University of Washington when I could have gone to Stanford. I avoided taking advantage of a junior year study abroad opportunity in Jerusalem. I drank the same goddamned iced-grande-nonfat-nowhip-mocha for like 10 years. I stayed in a terrible, soul-sucking job for seven years.
Now? Well, past opportunities aside, I’m in a new phase of my career; working on a startup company; working on a patent; and have done things I never thought I would, such as attend a three-day conference full of strangers, or give a presentation in front of a large group of (mostly) strangers.
Admittedly, old habits die hard. A new article from the New York Times claims that you can never fully get rid of old habits – they are “worn into” the brain by repeated use, sort of like a trained neural network. But, good news: you can write new paths around them. And, for those of you (like me) clinging to habit because it’s the “safe, comfortable” path, you are actually avoiding some good things:
In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.
There’s a quote that I read recently from William Wordsworth that I think applies:
Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd.
So I aim to continue to ask myself this question: what other habits – personal, professional, or other – do I un- or sub-consciously hold on to because I’m not fully reflecting on the alternatives? I’m guessing that there are a lot.
What habits do you hang onto? How do you move past them?