Do you often feel that you can brand yourself as an underachiever? Do you see your friends with almost the same set of skills doing much better than you are currently doing? Is your brain stuck in some sort of a loop and you are facing increasing difficulties in getting out of it? Have you stopped generating ideas which are viewed as valuable by your organization? I am very sure that many of the readers might be facing such problem or would have definitely faced such a problem at some stage in their lives. The question is why might this happen. There are various possibilities of this happening but right now my interest lies in one- “Your routine”. My thoughts find total agreement with the words of renowned Brazilian author Paulo Coelho who said that “If you think adventure is dangerous try routine, it is lethal.” Routines are like the slow poison which we are consuming a little everyday though we might not die because of it but one part of your body is surely suffering a lot of degradation and it is your brain.

Routine habits and how are they made

The basic task of remembering certain things like routines is referred to as the cognitive function of the brain. To understand habits neurologists have done different experiment. One such experiment that has found various references is of a rat in a maze. Neurologists noted that initially when a rat is left in a new maze it takes its time to make a decision of where to turn to find food i.e. the reward. After reiterating the same exercise on the same rat it was found that after suitable experience the rat would make the turn automatically in the direction of the reward. This is what habits essentially are we gain certain knowledge and experience in the first stage, in this stage the part of the brain which deals with making decisions is in full flow, we remember the decisions we made to get the reward and the we go in auto- pilot mode, in this stage the part of the brain that deals with recollecting memories is doing everything. This serves dual purposes first it helps us do things at the pace of Usain Bolt pun intended!! And second and more importantly it helps us multi task. How many times has it happened to us that we are planning our day and our routine tasks are like happening automatically without us even realizing it. That’s the brilliance of our brain and somewhere there lies the problem too. By following our routines day in and day out we are just becoming those rats which are addicted to going in a particular direction irrespective of where the reward lies.

While following our routines regularly we mostly forget one simple thing that our Routines are comfortable might be our life is not. Ignoring the important aspects of surroundings can not only make us lose out on the opportunities that lie in front of us but can also make us helpless such that we are not able to successfully deal with new problems. The most alarming thing today is that most of us fail to admit that there is something actually wrong with us and as a result we are becoming slaves of our brain the one organ which we are meant to direct and control.

So what to do to solve this problem well it is not as tough as it sounds. Doing simple things might do wonders like

1. Making new habits. DUH!! We might have various passions like music, art, creative writing etc. So why not just incorporate your passion in your daily routine.

2. Regular trips to new places: What you are essentially doing here is you are changing the very

surrounding you are accustomed to. Traveling involves making various decisions which cannot

be done without thinking. Not only would it be a rejuvenating experience for you but it is also a

good chance to remove that age old rust from your brain.

3. Learning a new skill: I believe in two things firstly there is no limit to what a brain can do and secondly the resource which is found in unquestionable abandons in this world is information. If we look at these two facets together we have ample opportunity and talent to explore new things so why not. Why not wake up one day and start learning Cambodian. Why not take a screwdriver in your hand to understand how your refrigerator cools things. Why not call your computer engineer friend and ask him to teach you Python. The only person stopping you from doing all these and much more is yourself.

4. Being open to new ideas: What we often do wrong is that we assume that there is only one way of reaching our destination without actually exploring alternative ways worse is because our way has given us the desired result we often refuse to hear to the suggestions of others who have found better alternative ways of doing the same thing. A good way to get out of this

vicious loop would be to be receptive to others people’s ideas and believes and broaden our

perception regarding things.

I am sure there are many other ways which I would like you guys to mention in the comments section. Also do share your experience where you changed your routine.

In the end I would just like to mention the wise words of Brian Tracy who said that “The Primary reason for underachievement and failure is that the great majority of people don’t decide to be successful.” If you notice that your own certain habit are coming between the present you and the person that you wish to be then it is high time that we start!

Written By: Shaunak Bhatt

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