So, change...what is it?

When we talk of change, we talk about starting something new, becoming and making something different, replacing someone or something; from little things such as putting on different clothes, driving a different car to bigger transformations such as changing daily habits, a new career or relocation.

"Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box." ~ Deepak Chopra

When we change, we get out of our comfort zone, into the unknown. We have no frame of reference for the new experience, which causes us excitement, possible uneasiness and discomfort. Actually, we can experience even physical disease when we consciously decide that we want something different, embrace a new opportunity, but need to break our habitual behaviors and step out of our comfort.

Why is it comfortable to do the same over and over again? The reason is that we have stored experiences and behavioral patterns that are easily reproducible and somewhat reassuring and calming.

New experiences and behaviors are uncomfortable but, the good news is that they create new neural pathways, and with repetition, these pathways become stronger and the new becomes today’s known reality.

Neuroscientific research indicates that experiences actually change both the brain's physical structure and our function.

“Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, and emotions – as well as to changes resulting from bodily injury. The concept of neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how – and in which ways – the brain changes in the course of a lifetime.” (Pascual-Leone et al, 2005)

The significant evidence that the brain has an amazing ability to adapt, grow, learn, and recover from injury is encouraging and inspires us to move out of our status quo and embrace change.

How can you grow more new neural pathways, keep your mind agile and OPEN TO CHANGE?

"Change brings opportunity." ~ Nido Qubein

Start by examining your habits, how much of your day is routine, run by your habits? Research says about 95% is habitual behavior. That means, most of the time you are doing what you did yesterday, thinking the same thoughts as yesterday.

How can you get different outcomes if your input is the same?

If you want different outcomes, start doing something different. As Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

When I work with my clients, I ask them to do one, or both, of the following:

- Pick one habit you would like to change and commit to the new action for 30 days. Take a habit that keeps you from achieving your goals and replace it with a goal achieving action. Your new action will create new neural pathways and eventually become a habit.
- Commit to doing one new thing every day. For example, a different route to work, a new place to explore, a new way of approaching the boss, and more. Everything counts as long as it is something new. Keep a log and celebrate each day that you are creating new neural pathway, learning, growing and expanding.

Start with small steps and embrace the feeling of discomfort as a sign that you are doing something new, creating new neural pathways. For those who are not comfortable with frequent change, a small step is a victory. One step at a time, because each step adds up!!

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." ~ George Bernard-Shaw

Author's Bio: 

Ulrike Berzau is an Executive Coach & Consultant who works with individuals, teams and organizations to achieve exceptional results in life and business. With extensive experience as a healthcare executive, she is known for providing highly respected insights and creative solutions to secure continuous advancement and excellence. Ulrike has an unwavering passion for igniting the talent and brilliance in others, and her international and multicultural experiences allow her to relate to a diverse audience. Her ambitious, yet well balanced, positive and inspiring mindset is the catalyst of her own success and assures the success of clients, staff and organizations.

Ulrike is the co-author of the International Best-Seller, Imagine a Healthy You, and an inspirational speaker. She is a certified Thinking into Results Consultant, certified Passion Test Facilitator, certified Life Coach, and holds a Master’s Degree in Management, a Master’s Degree in Health Science, Physical Therapy, and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare.