Balancing repetition and variety for Well-being

We seem to intrinsically know that a balance between repetition and variety in our life is good for us.

There are individual differences in how much repetition and routine is tolerable and for how long, but generally speaking we don’t enjoy the feeling of becoming “stuck in a rut”. And there is a good biological basis for it. You see neurologically and occupationally speaking we humans are wired to thrive with a delicious blend and balance of activities that offer us repetition (eg routine) and novelty (ie variety) of experience.

Repetition allows us to become skilful and efficient at what we do, consolidating the brain maps for our actions. Repetition and routines lead to competence and mastery and give us confidence in what we are doing.

Variety of experience on the other hand introduces novelty to our nervous system. This has a beneficial role to play in our well being too – for it invites adaptive growth. The dynamic demands of novel situations can help us to forge new neuronal connections as we harness our creative problem-solving and strategic capabilities.

Portrait of a happy family having fun painting with palms and fingers

If we become aware that we are feeling bored or underwhelmed in areas of our life – it is a nudge to bring in some degree of change, mixing up the routine, changing scene or environment and upping the variety of challenge in some way.

My tips at such times include:-

  • Consider if you want or need incremental change/variety or large scale change/variety and proceed accordingly
  • For example it may be sufficient to set an intention to be open to variety – and notice the many opportunities for flexibility and creative approaches that are present in your usual environments and activities of daily life
  • Think of ways to add value in what you are already doing and what you are contributing – the service oriented creativity and collaborations involved will be likely to re-engage you.
  • Stay connected with your friends and family – this will always bring opportunities for variety in social routine as well as dynamic opportunities for contributing service from the heart.
  • Connecting with a cause or charity you support can also bring opportunities to serve something bigger than self in a variety of creative ways.
  • Consider how you can extend your mastery and competence. This may involve a change in environment, job or hobbies, taking up a professional development opportunity at work, finding an advanced master/mentor, or becoming a mentor.
  • And most importantly, consider the alignment between what you do most of in life and your sense of purpose in life. Time is a precious resource and knowing we are using it in alignment with why we are here and who we are is fundamental to having a cohesive blend of consolidation/repetition and creativity/variety that will support our own and collective wellbeing.

Next time I will focus on the flip-side of feeling stuck in a rut and how to attend to wellbeing then.


Cherie Rowett – Creative Director

Published by now-inc

We are a team of spirited trainers from diverse professional backgrounds who love supporting people in strengthening their leadership style. Our world is moving toward new social structures, which involves creating new systems, new communities, and new businesses. These new systems, communities, and businesses need New Style Leaders to grow the humanity we all want. Our role at NOW is to promote collaboration, overcome unconscious bias, strengthen employment growth by encouraging social enterprise and deliver new style leadership programs and seminars.

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