I wrote recently about how we had been looking for new office premises and that, although it took a little while to find something, we finally agreed a deal on a building not too far away and with a similar feel to what we were leaving. The last part of that story is that we have just completed the move this week.
As many would know, it can be challenging moving whether it’s your office or your home. It takes a bit of planning, a lot of packing, cleaning and sorting and, if you’re fortunate, some help with the large and heavy things. It doesn’t really make much difference whether you’re moving a couple of km away, as we are, or several hundred, it still requires a similar effort and that’s what the last few weeks and days have looked like for us.
Larger and with a spaciousness that feels light, airy and expansive, our new offices are starting to feel more like our new ‘home’ with the help of some external painting, new blinds, styling and artwork. We’ve made great progress and, apart from some further pondering about how to make best use of the various areas, we’re ready to start operating from there this month.
Meanwhile Nick and I have been sharing experiences about our confusion and disorientation at times as we come to grips with the unusual layout and work out the quickest way to get from one room to another. At times we have found each other unexpectedly while looking for our phones, glasses, paintbrush or other item temporarily misplaced.
The move overall has provided a great reminder about the brain and its ability to learn and integrate new information particularly in relation to spatial and geographical information. That’s because it’s similar to an example I often use to help people understand neuroplasticity, our nervous system’s ability to adapt and change over time, whatever our age.
When we’ve lived somewhere for a while, our route from home to work and back is so familiar that we may be on autopilot as we drive between because it’s firmly embedded in our unconscious memory to the extent that we sometimes can’t remember parts of the journey. When we then move either home or office (in our case) and particularly if it’s the same city, it initially takes focus to remember how to get to the new location, particularly if you are still toing and froing between premises.
You may get to a certain point of the route and realise that you have been on autopilot and are heading to the wrong location even finding yourself arriving there because your focus has wandered or we’ve been distracted. In the first few weeks that may happen frequently as you have become so habituated to not having to concentrate but over time as our brain starts to log the new route and stores it in the unconscious. Back to autopilot.
Imagine walking through a forest or bushland for the first time and creating a pathway through; the first time takes longer and you have to pay attention to where you are heading, looking out for obstacles and hazards on the way to your destination. Once you use the same path more regularly, the
path becomes more defined and easier to follow and, with more use you no longer need to pay so much attention to where you are walking and instead can just enjoy the scenery.
In the same way, if we choose a different destination, a new pathway is created and over time the first pathway, with less use, becomes covered in undergrowth and is eventually no longer visible. Something similar is happening in our brain when we start to learn or experience something new; new connections are made, a new pathway is established and the old, unused one fades away.
You may have experienced something similar and that’s what Nick and I have found this last week, not just on route from home to the new building but inside the building as well. An example of neuroplasticity at its finest and, while the brain can be a saboteur at times, this is one of the wonderful ways it can work in our favour and throughout life; it’s never to late to learn something new.