Habits. They’re mighty useful for getting up on time each morning, getting the dog fed and making sure you get your workout in. But when it comes to creativity, habits can be your worst enemy.
Your brain cells wire together into pathways when you repeat the same action over and over. They strengthen with repetition, which leads your brain to use the same pathways over and over again because they’re efficient. Which in turn makes those pathways even stronger. It’s why drills work for athletes to improve technique, why you can follow your drive home without thinking about it and why you can’t stop biting your nails.
The automatic nature of habits prevent you from looking for alternative ideas and solutions. It allows you to comfortably go through the motions without thinking. News flash: creativity requires you to think. A ton.
Be aware of what you’re doing, and actively think about other ways to do the same things. Question everything. Take a different route to work. Try out a new restaurant. Run in the evening instead of in the morning. Instead of running, go to an aerobics class.
These small things will stimulate your brain in new ways, forming new pathways. And when your brain is fired up from these changes, it encourages your brain’s natural plasticity—its ability to change and form new pathways. And with your brain activated for new pathways, you never know what other new things you might think. Get in the habit of breaking your habits.