Let’s be honest, it can be terrifying to try new things. We get caught up in chores and responsibilities, and it’s hard to branch out of our comfort zone. But we don’t start out like this. We spend our childhoods hearing “You should give it a try!” as our parents rush to sign us up for extracurricular activities. Then, we get overwhelmed with organizations, clubs, and events at our university or college. Even the first few years after university we’re urged to join all the young professionals organizations in our city and network as much as possible.
Then all of a sudden, we graduate into the “real world” and are expected to know exactly what we’re good at, what we like to do, and how we like to spend our time. New activities or experiences grind to a halt, and it’s almost expected that we will “settle into” our hobbies and pastimes.
When I turned 31 I decided this was it: this was the summer I would take horseback riding lessons. I’d ridden on and off when I was a child, even as recently as a few years ago. I knew all the basics, but I wanted to really know what I was doing and be confident enough to ride under any circumstance.
So the week before my birthday I bought myself a pair of riding boots, pulled out my riding helmet, and showed up at an adult group class – with a bundle of nerves. I put the bridle on the horse wrong and I made one million other mistakes, but I survived and I’m now on my sixth month of weekly riding lessons.
If you’ve ever thought, “That would be fun to try!” or “I wish I could… [take ballet lessons, paint, learn a language, host a foreign exchange student, travel to a new country, start a blog, learn how to code, etc…], then I urge you to listen to your wistful inner adventurer and try! What’s the worst that can happen?
Here are 9 reasons why you should get motivated to try new things. You’ll find that implementing these motivations in your personal life will carry over into your professional life as well!
1. It teaches you humility.
This is a big one for me and a main motivator for me to try new things. I also suspect it’s also a mental stumbling block for why we don’t try new things. I worked very hard to accumulate accomplishments in my academic, professional and personal life but that 1000 pound horse doesn’t care about my achievements. To him, I’m a beginner that hasn’t yet put in the time and the dedication to master the art of horseback riding. There are no shortcuts to earning the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert at something.
So every week, I’m reminded to be humble and to appreciate every small milestone. I focus on getting over any of my fears of looking silly. Being a beginner doesn’t mean you are any less fabulous. It’s okay not to be the expert for once. You will find that this attitude will carry over into your professional life as you become more comfortable with trying new committees or learning new skills.
2. It teaches you that you are capable of more.
When you reach important milestones in your personal challenges, it reminds you that you actually set your mind to something and succeeded. The pride and confidence you get from mastering an important new skill in your chosen activity will stay with you all day, and maybe it will nudge you to think, “If I originally couldn’t accomplish that and I’ve now succeeded, what else am I capable of?”
3. It teaches you about ripple effects.
Learning one new skill or investing in a new activity can have wonderful ripple effects. For instance, in order to be a more effective horse rider, I have been working on my abdominals and my core. I also attend yoga much more often. When you have an activity that you love, you’ll find yourself engaging in other healthy and worthwhile pursuits as well.
4. It teaches you that you can measure improvements and accomplishments.
In our daily lives, our routine can be so predictable that we forget to take a step back and think, “That IS cool! I really did an awesome job.” When I have a great ride, I feel so grateful and know that the previous weeks’ riding frustrations were worth it. Feeling a sense of accomplishment in your personal life reminds us that we are still capable of overcoming challenges.
5. It teaches you that you aren’t the first person who has done it before.
Once you have a new hobby or interest, it can often lead to a wonderful use of your spare time. Search for blogs that inspire you in the chosen activity, find YouTube videos that demonstrate what you’re struggling with, or check out some inspirational reads from the library. I’ve used other social media channels such as Twitter or Instagram to find inspirational feeds to help me as well. Always remember, even if trying new things is scary, the internet is so far reaching nowadays that you will be able to find a virtual support community no matter what your interest.
6. It teaches you to take control of your life experiences.
When you try new things, it demonstrates curiosity and it opens your mind up to new experiences. It may feel that you spend your days helping or working for others such as your children, spouses or bosses. Dedicating some time to your own interests and activities allows you to touch base with yourself about who you are and what you like to do. Even an hour a week or a day every month can make you a better person, wife, mother, girlfriend, partner, employee, or friend.
You’ll also find yourself sharing your new experiences with friends or colleagues (perhaps your new friends too!) and you’ll become a better conversationalist with interesting anecdotes or different points of view.
7. It teaches you to learn what excuses really sound like.
When you try new things, you will learn that if you really want to make something happen, you’ll have to get over your excuses. Once you get out this mentality that you don’t have time or can’t wake up earlier, you’ll actually start to notice that people point out how much free time you “must” have in order to accomplish your activities. But actually, they aren’t really talking about you – they are making excuses for themselves as to why you can do these things and they can’t. Other people will always have an excuse as to why it’s not possible. Don’t engage in competition, but don’t let them bring you down either.
I have a fairly busy schedule, and travel internationally frequently. It would be easy to use this as an excuse like, “I’ll just start next month when I’m back.” I’d been using that excuse for two years. If I had started back then when I’d first thought about it, I would be so much better than I am now. It was time to decide that it was up to me to add it to my schedule, rather than have my schedule magically open up. And now it’s written on my calendar.
(Note: In full disclosure, I spend between $25-$35 per week on this activity. This is the price of a dinner at a restaurant, so I make budget adjustments.)
8. It teaches you about other people’s experiences.
Learning how to paint watercolors may give you more insight as to artists’ pricing of their own pieces. Learning a second language may give you more patience when speaking to those who struggle with English. Tutoring refugees may allow you to hear stories of someone else’s life that may be very different from yours. When you expose yourself to new experiences, you gain empathy and insight.
9. It teaches you how to serve as a role model for your children or other adults.
When you have a good attitude about new experiences, your children and peers will benefit from your positive attitude. They’ll realize that seeking new experiences can be a way of life and not just something you’re forced to do in school. They will grow up with a lack of fear to try new things too.
One final word
After you start your new activity, it’s okay to “quit” if your heart is consistently no longer in it. This isn’t fifth grade piano practice that your parents are enforcing. Listen to your gut, and when the activity no longer provides you with joy, be grateful for the past experiences, and move on to the next adventure.
So go ahead!
I challenge you to try whatever you’ve had a longing for! Whether it’s tango lessons, learning Chinese, trying a new cuisine, taking a cooking class, volunteering at an animal shelter, joining a professional organization, or anything else, I promise you that you will feel more energized, fulfilled, and proud of being a fabulous seeker of adventure. I wish you the very best of luck and can’t wait to hear what you’re going to try!
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