Doing something new is one of the more challenging things that we do as we get older. It seems that our natural tendency to try and make things as unchanging as possible really hurts our motivation to try new things.
But isn’t this tendency just like most of our tendencies in that it exist only because we allow it to exist? There are people who have learned to do new things all the time so our initial fear is not something that cannot be overcome by direct effort to change.
Looking back, if you do find yourself rather unmotivated to try new things, isn’t it also a fact that you were apprehensive to try the thing you most like doing now? For me it is mountain bike riding and I thought about if for a while before I actually started to ride; my friend Chris hounded me for more than a year to buy a bike from him before I relented. Now I can’t imagine my life without it.
The strangest thing about trying mountain biking is where I am now. My life is completely different as a result of my decision to improve my health and fitness, a decision that was the outcome of me loving bike riding. I haven’t taken to anything else in my life like I have taken to cycling. While it is possible that the athlete in me would have come out some other way, I have not yet found or tried whatever activity that is. Regardless of its eventuality, most of my friends are different, most of my activities are different and most of my time is spend doing stuff that I didn’t do before.
It isn’t worth considering where my life would be now if I had not tried, but it’s safe to assume that it would be different.
At least once every couple of days you should try something new. The LuLuLemon people recommend once a day but I’m going to suggest every couple of days. These things really don’t have to matter all that much but they can be big things if you like. Try tanning, a different type of coffee, make a new meal, talk to someone you want to talk to, eat at a new restaurant, try a different type of squat, etc…. The goal of these small things is to keep your brain used to trying new things. You are facing your fear head on and very frequently.
At least once a week you should do something that you don’t really want to do. For many people this should be to complain about poor service or you not getting what you were entitled to. Don’t be a jerk about it, but stand up for yourself. It’s another conflict situation that many tend to avoid because they don’t like the idea of arguing with someone. It’s about tackling something that you know will make your life better once you complete it.
At least once a month you should try something very new. These things should be a little more significant than anything up until now and they should involve some sort of risk, preferably the risk of embarrassment or making a fool of yourself. Karaoke is a good example here, as would be entering an art show. You could take a pottery class, go to bingo or volunteer at the food bank. The thing is to get well outside your normal way of acting and your comfort zone. The goal here is to increase the range of things you feel okay doing. Again, you’re working to face the fear as you increase your exposure to different things.
At least twice a year you should try something that you’ve always been afraid of doing.
At least once a year you should make a list of things that you want to do before you die and make sure the list is disappearing and growing at the same time.
No matter what, your life should be in constant flux trying new things and exposing yourself to as much as you can. I believe this is the only way you are going to be able to determine whenever you have found true happiness and moved towards completion.