A well-trodden path of new things (part 1)

I’ve been asked how I came up with this idea, and whether it’s a ‘thing’ that people do. It doesn’t seem to be an established daily thing, so I’m happy to appoint myself as an international spokesperson for that. I’ve decided the combination of routine (keep on moving) and newness (changing behaviour) is the winning formula, along with the slightly unexpected and glorious level of collaboration with others!

I have been known to set myself random challenges, often starting out as new year’s resolutions. One year I had a sponsored ‘dry January’ but decided to continue the theme by giving up a different type of food or drink each month. (I gave up chocolate for that whole year, and subsequently discovered an intolerance that I have yet to come to terms with.) Last year it got to early spring and I realised I’d done some sort of training or course at work each month, so that became a target for the rest of the year with some unexpected results.

I’m intrigued by the idea that you never know what opportunities you’ll create for yourself by trying new things but it seems obvious that not much is going to happen if you never try anything new.

This particular project was born out of a rubbish end to 2015. In trying to distract myself from panic, self-loathing and loneliness, I started saying ‘yes’ to things I wouldn’t normally do, and having conversations with people I hadn’t really spoken to before. Lauren gets a special mention here, for her Ely Clandestine Cake Club guest invite. I’m not sure she – or I – had any idea just how much she hauled me out of my head on a particularly unstable day AND I REALLY JUST ATE OTHER PEOPLE’S CAKE. Some people (and cakes) are natural and instinctive rescuers.

I realised two things. First, the new things were cheering me up – partly the things themselves, but also the variety, distraction and challenges. Secondly, I was slightly less incompetent than I thought I was. Maybe I was missing out on things, just because I assumed I wouldn’t enjoy them, fit in or be capable.

So I sort of came up with this idea myself but with the feeling that it probably wasn’t ground-breaking. I’ve started to find some examples of similar projects, or the theory about trying new things, and other examples have been flagged up to me by friends, so I’m collecting them – here are a few to kick things off. If you know of others, tell me about them! (And tell them about ME, she said self-importantly.)

  • In 2013 Jo Verrent did something new or different each day. There is too much inspiration here!
  • The Happiness Project. Thanks to Jacqui for info about this, which focuses on happiness and habits. There a quiz on the website. I’m an Obliger. That’s as far as I’ve got but it doesn’t sound good. Incidentally, Jacqui is (I think) posting a new photo on Instagram every day this year. Find your angle!
  • Here’s an article about trying new things.
  • Bored and Brilliant. This is about the creativity that springs from boredom, and how constantly checking your phone means your mind never gets the chance to wander…and create. It’s only a very short burst of new things a day, but highlights some of the psychological aspects I’ve rambled about in previous posts. The last challenge is inspired…I might try it at some point. Give your mind some space.

I’ve also been asked whether I’m going to carry on after 2016. At the moment, my answer is that I am going to carry on recording the new things I do. Ask me again in December.

Here’s a picture of a path, with some symbolic blossom at the end of it.

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