Challenge Yourself to Try Something New
I read this article from Psychology Today that got me thinking about the fear of trying new things. I am trying something new this week and it scares me to death. I am a routine person. I do well with a routine. I forget and lose stuff less often if I follow a set pattern throughout the day. But routine can get…boring. Really boring.
It’s like eating the same food for dinner every night, after a while you decide that not eating is better than eating another bowl of macaroni and cheese. You have to spice up the mac and cheese. Parents can easily get caught in a monotonous routine that eats up the day and leaves little room for new challenges.
When I look back on my life, there are a few times that I challenged myself and discovered that I had talents I didn’t know were there.
For example, my sophomore year of college I decided to take a voice class. (Think voice lessons only with 15 perfect strangers. What could be better, right?) I did it despite the fact that I was not confident in my voice. I always loved to sing. I mean I used to sing into the gear shift of my dad’s truck when I was little because I thought it looked like a microphone.
Despite my love of singing, I don’t have a naturally gifted voice. Seriously, there are a few people in this world that open their mouths and butterflies and rainbows come out with little effort on their part. I am not one of those people. I could sing alright but it was nothing special. To give you an idea, I did four years of musical class in high school and always got cast as the character that didn’t sing…in a musical. Yeah.
Anyway, back to voice class, I discovered that with a little instruction there was actually a decent voice hidden away in there. It took a lot of practice, practice, and more practice but lo and behold, NOW I have the voice I always wanted. It took some serious work and sacrifice but it all came from trying something new.
How do we challenge ourselves? How do we accomplish all that we need to do and still try something new?
It’s not easy and requires a conscious effort.
Make time – Yes, we have to make time because it is not going to land in our already very full laps. Make time to read a book that challenges your assumptions. I try to read articles that challenge my political or social views. They rarely change my mind but they do get me thinking and constructing arguments in my head. I think that’s a worthwhile mental exercise. Try a new recipe each week. You have to cook dinner every night anyway, why not make it interesting? Take on a bigger challenge and run a 5k, 10k, or half marathon. (Half marathon is on my list for next year.)
Give yourself time to succeed – When you try something new, you have to assume that the first time you try, it might not work out perfectly. It could possibly blow up in your face as a big fat fail. A woman once said to me, “I don’t try anything new unless I know I’m going to be good at it.” You are going to miss out on a lot of opportunities if you only stick to the things you are good at the first time you try them. I would have had to stop at eating and sleeping if that were the case. You have to give yourself time to succeed. Give yourself time to learn before you count out your new venture completely. An initial failure may become tomorrow’s success because each failure teaches you something new.
Learn from failure, don’t fear it – One day I decided I was going to make chicken pot pie. I found a recipe that used pancake mix for the crust. We lovingly called it ‘pancake chicken’ because that is what it tasted like. I tried two or three more times with different recipes that ended with the same results. I don’t try to make chicken pot pie with pancake mix anymore. After trying the pancake chicken enough times, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Okay, what can I learn from that? Pancake mix is not pie crust. Got it. Substituting ingredients in a recipe is a bad idea. Does that stop me from doing it? No, why else would we also have a recipe called slimy chicken wherein I substituted Special K for Cornflakes? At least I know when I do it the recipe is most likely not going to work out.
Don’t be afraid to try something that scares you – I think this is the biggest factor that holds people back from trying something new. Fear. Fear of failing, fear of embarrassment, fear of judgment. When you try something you fear, often you find that it wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be. For example, I wanted do a triathlon a few years ago but I am a little (a lot) afraid of open water. I did it. I didn’t drown although there was a time or two I feared that was a distinct possibility. I’ve now done two triathlons and the swimming wasn’t even the hard part, turns out biking kicks my butt every time.
Keep an open mind – It is so sad to me that I could have kept myself from learning to sew because I was close minded about it. I love to sew but in my head, I thought, “I will never sew. Boring! That’s for old housewives.” (Yikes, sometimes I think awful things.) However, once I learned the basics I found that sewing didn’t have to be about tedious tasks like stitching on buttons but could be about creativity. Picking out patterns and fabric, altering and designing patterns, and making clothes that are unique. Now that is fun to me. But I could have missed it all if I had stuck to my stubborn assumptions about sewing. Cooking, on the other hand, I have been very open-minded about and we don’t get along. Unfortunately, I have to do it anyway.
Start small – This is my advice about starting anything new. Start small so you don’t overwhelm yourself and end up quitting before you’ve really had a chance to begin. I always start by reading about something before jumping in head first. Before I started this blog, I read for months on how to start a blog. I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m glad that I got as much information as I could before I wrote one word.
Trying something new can be a great way to challenge yourself, enrich your mind, and change your perceptions.
I am trying something new this week and it scares me to death. I am trying to get a guest post on another blog. It’s one thing to write my thoughts on my own blog but another to try to write something that will fit and be accepted somewhere else. I am planning on being rejected a number of times but I’m hoping that, eventually, I will succeed.
Yup, trying something new is awesome and scary and makes my palms sweat but I don’t want to wonder if I could have done it. Do it. Try something new today.
Let me know what you’ve tried or want to try in the comments.