We’re hardwired to be novelty-seeking machines.
We’re constantly scanning for anything which doesn’t match our existing picture of reality. Our primitive brains are looking for threats, but a more modern adaptation of that trait is to seek out and be distracted by novelty.
We like exploring what’s new. It’s more exciting than the familiar thing/task/experience right in front of us.
But this appetite for the new is maladaptive. It diverts our energy and attention from our existing commitments.
It can also encourage us to make unnecessary purchases and acquisitions. We often, already have the tools and resources to address the problem in front of us.
There is no sense trying to completely deny this impulse to pursue newness – but we can use it to improve.
When you feel the pull to move to something new, first try to improve something you already have.
- Do you want to switch to a new task? First make some final tweaks to what you’re working on now, to make it better.
- Do you want to buy a new shirt? First, look at your existing wardrobe and see how you can make it work harder for you.
- Do you want to build a new website? First, see if you can’t hone and focus the one you have so at least it doesn’t suck so much while you’re working on the new one.
It’s not denying that pursuit of novelty, but it’s stopping and choosing to do something else first.
Getting into the habit of optimising your existing resources before pursuing novelty is a good way of showing your brain how much more it can leverage what it already has.
It’s a way of calming the impulse to acquire and reducing the waste and clutter you introduce into the system.
It’s a way of staying focused, lean and effective.
'Optimise something old before you try something new' originally appeared on KentValentine.com.