Week 3 came and went and brought with it some absolute slacking. I did a new thing only four out of the seven days of the week. I debated whether I should even write this post because this past week’s new things were fun, but not groundbreaking and I skipped so many days, but “done is better than perfect” and I’m determined to complete the challenge even if I miss a few days.
I’m finding that many of my new things that I choose are playful and fun. This is making me realize how much play hadn’t been a part of my everyday life and how my intention after this challenge is to actively incorporate play into each day.
In the past I’ve allowed fear to keep me serious and contained. Doing this challenge and choosing to do fun and silly things has really opened me up to a new (and familiar) side of myself that I’d been holding back out of fear of what others would think of me. Being playful and connecting with that creative and child-like side of me is starting to feel better than staying “safe” from others’ opinions.
So this past week, two of my fun things were to take a “slinky break” and try and make the slinky toy that I keep on my desk (and never use) fall down the steps. I was very pleased when I got it to fall three steps!
Another fun thing was to use a $3 drug store coupon to buy something completely frivolous and fun (instead of practical as I usually do). I ended up buying a My Little Pony coloring book (What? It’s a really cute show and there’s a documentary about adults who like it too).
On more of the meditation front, in keeping with the mindfulness meditation class I’m taking, I decided to try a new practice while I rode the bus home from work. Usually, I read or browse on my phone during the trip home. One day I decided to make note of each street name the whole way home. It was amazing to see how many street names I didn’t know and also to see how easy it was to get distracted (I missed at least one street just spacing out). Overall it was a good practice in being mindful of my surroundings and holding focus.
So, that was the third week. I also tried to make a balloon animal from a kit I bought a while ago and that did not turn out well. I’ll be back next week with my reflections on the last week of the challenge. Thanks for reading!
If You Missed the Previous Week’s Reflections:
4 New Things I Tried and the Lessons I Learned in the First Week of the Try New Things Challenge
Week 2 of the Try New Things Challenge and 4 More Lessons
It has now been two weeks of doing a new thing every day and time feels like it’s just flying by (in a good way). As I did last week, I will share 4 things I learned from 4 of the new things that I tried.
1. Doing a new thing can open your eyes to what was always around you, but just outside of your perception.
During my lunch break, I decided to take a walk outside. I started out walking in a direction that I usually go, but I got to a street I’d never been down and something in me said to turn down it so I did. After walking a few blocks, to my surprise, I came across a nice park with a few benches. I never even knew that park was there! What started out as a normal walk down a familiar street turned into a nice break in the park; I sat down, read my book and soaked up the sun. Who knows what other fun things are around me?
2. Changing up your usual routine, even in little ways, can make a huge difference on your day.
During another lunch break, I decided to meditate. I’ve been taking a meditation class for the past few weeks and I’ve meditated as homework for the class in the evening after work. I felt the urge to sit in stillness after I ate, so I found a quiet, private space and I just did it. It felt a little weird at first, but it actually helped me to find my center in the middle of the day instead of waiting until the end of the day. Just changing the timing of something I usually do made a big impact on my peace of mind that day.
3. Life is short. Make time for joyful moments.
After missing my bus and beginning to feel the anger rise up within me, I suddenly had the urge to skip. I know, random! But it hit me as I walked to another bus stop. I ignored it at first, out of fear or maybe the potential embarrassment, but I eventually heeded the call and started skipping. I skipped all the way past my bus stop and down to the end of the block and then back. It made me laugh so much (which probably made me look even weirder). And nobody paid any attention to me. Skipping made me remember how simple joyful moments can be and renewed that childlike spirit within me.
4. How you do anything is how you do everything.
I’ve wanted to buy a deck of cards for a while. So when I saw a deck while checking out in the store I quickly bought them. At home after work, and all by myself, I decided to find a new solitaire game and learn how to play it. I chose one randomly – Four Seasons – and I began to read the instructions. Well, surprisingly, I had a pretty hard time understanding the rules and strongly felt like giving up and just playing a game that I knew. Then I had a bit of an “observer moment.” By that I mean when you see yourself from a place outside yourself. It hit me that the way that I was approaching that game – wanting to give up because I wasn’t perfect at it from the gate – was a proxy for how I’ve approached other things in the past. That strengthened my resolve to just stick with it and I eventually figured out how to play and won a hand, but it really made me reflect and want to improve on that aspect of my approach in the future.
So those were a sample of four of the new things I tried this week. I also tried to install a scanner that I’d avoided since Christmas (I say “tried” because it didn’t work), made a collage out of found art around my apartment (and now I want to take a formal collage class) and participated in a 6-hour meditation retreat. Since the meditation retreat just happened, I need to process that a bit more and may have something to say about it next week. Until then, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email.
It’s now been over a week – 9 days – and I have done 9 new things. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about this in a way that would be helpful, interesting and more than just a laundry list of what I’ve been doing. The focus of this blog has been about overcoming fear to do whatever you have dreamed of doing, big or small. With that focus, I am framing this challenge as something that I was afraid to do, but am doing anyway.
Before I started the challenge, I set an intention.
My intention is to have fun, expand my comfort zone by doing things that scare me and to experience the magic of the Universe by stepping out at times on faith.
That last piece is very personal to me as it reflects a bit of my spiritual beliefs and basically just represents me letting go and letting my intuition guide me as I choose the new things and also letting go of the expectations I have of what each new thing will be like.
So far, I am staying true to my intention and I am learning a lot about myself and each new thing I try with each day that I do this. Instead of just giving you a list of the 9 things that I did this past week, I am going to mention four of the new things I tried and then share the top things I learned by doing them.
1. When you show up for one thing without expectations, you likely get way more than you could have imagined.
I took a guided tour at my city’s fine arts museum. I’ve been to this museum many, many times before and never took a tour. I chose the “highlights tour” figuring that it would give me a good overview and I made sure that I didn’t have any expectations and kept an open mind. Well, the tour was fabulous and the tour guide was excited and knowledgeable. I learned so much more about the museum than I had learned before and even ended up in rooms that I didn’t even know existed. I even made a new friend during the tour and we ended up walking around the museum after the tour talking and exploring together
2. Never underestimate the confidence building power of doing seemingly little things that scare you.
I cook every week, but it’s usually the same things that I feel pretty comfortable making. For some reason, I’ve felt nervous about cooking new things in the past. Worrying about making a mistake or getting it “wrong” has often kept me from trying new recipes. So this past week I made two new things! Stuffed tomatoes and a tuna burger. Trying these new recipes made me more nervous than terrified, but what I found was that the confidence boost I felt after I made those two dishes was way more intense than the slight nervousness I felt before I made them. It was like I put in a nickel’s worth of fear and got out a quarter’s worth of confidence!
3. Sometimes magical and exciting coincidences happen that when you try something new.
As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I love documentaries and those are the kinds of movies I watch the most. So I decided to find a movie that I wouldn’t have watched before doing this challenge. After some intense Netflix browsing, I decided to watch Harold and Maude. It’s about a relationship that builds between a young man who is obsessed with death and 79 year old woman who is full of life. That’s pretty much all I knew about the film before watching it. I felt some resistance at the beginning of the film, but made myself stick through watching it. Little did I know how relevant to the challenge the film was! There was even a reference about the importance of trying new things! That’s what I mean when I talk about magical coincidences. To me, those moments are so exciting! I won’t spoil the film for those who haven’t seen it, but I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for some inspiration in terms of living a full and happy life.
4. Your imagined fearful scenarios of what will happen when you do something new are more often than not wrong.
I was invited to do something with a group that I really did not want to do. I feel pretty confident saying no to people I’m close to as I know they know me and know my heart, but this group of people included people I was just getting to know. In the past, I would have said yes and then been upset with myself, carrying that energy into the event. My mental scenario included them being upset with me, or thinking I was being difficult or mean. This time though, I just nicely said I wasn’t interested in going and the result was a resounding “Ok, we’ll see you next time then.” I was almost disappointed at the non-reaction and then I laughed to myself and the reminder that my fearful thoughts are very bad predictors of what will happen in the future.
So those were the top four new things. I also rented a car from a new rental place, drove alone to a store I’d never driven to before, called a florist to order a corsage & boutonniere (I was nervous I’d get the order wrong), and tried a new gluten free bakery near my house (I went gluten free about two months ago).
I’ll be back again next week with some more things I’ve learned! If you’ve been doing a challenge of your own, I’d love to hear what you’ve been learning. I’d also love to hear any of your thoughts on what I shared.
If You Liked This Reflection, You Might Also Like:
Hug Your Fear and Try New Things March 2014 Challenge
12 Short Lessons on Overcoming Fear from 12 Courageous People