When we visited friends in New Zealand, our hostess graciously allowed us to use her car.
Not only was it disorienting to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, but also the turn signal and windshield wipers were reversed. On a sunny days our windshield wipers would work furiously as we made unexpected turns and stops!
Because I had to rethink every time I made a turn, I had to rely on my husband to navigate and yell “Turn left” or “Turn right”. Too much of my attention and brain power was taken up with simply driving the car. We decided to use the car for relatively short distances, and to use public transportation wherever possible.
If you are trying to establish a new habit (or driving in some foreign countries) you use your working memory and activate your prefrontal cortex to adapt to new circumstances. These are energy-intensive areas of the brain.
If you drive routinely in your own country, you use the basal ganglia in your brain. Any repeated activity or habit pushes the brain functioning down deep where it doesn’t take much energy to function.
When you establish new habits that you no longer have to think about, it also frees your prefrontal cortex to assess new challenges.
That’s why creating good routines often frees up energy to address, analyze, and change other areas of your life. (For instance, clearing your desk regularly often makes important decisions easier to make…)
Change takes both mental and physical energy. To overcome the pull of old habits, and establish new, nurturing ones, you need to create internal and external supports.
Next week I’ll write about how to eliminate unnecessary tolerations to create more energy for what you want.
May we pursue our paths, using our brains to support our important life changes,
A quick shout-out to the Government IT Symposium folks who attended “How To Use A Coaching Mindset for Success” and “From Stress to Success” last week. You were a fun group to work with-let me know how you do with your personal commitments!