The Value of Doing Something New — and 23 Ways to Do It in 2020
It’s the beginning of a new year, which means that everyone has “new” on the brain. You’ve likely heard “new year, new you” more times than you ever thought possible. And while we understand your frustration with the sentiment — we weren’t SO bad last year, were we? — there are actually plenty of scientifically-proven benefits to trying something new, even just for the sake of it.
In fact, research shows that embracing the new can lead to:
- A healthier you. Trying new things can lead to meaning and purpose, both of which have been linked to better health outcomes related to sleep, stroke, heart disease, dementia, disability, and premature death.
- A happier you. Engaging in a variety of experiences will help you minimize negative emotions and retain positive ones.
- A smarter, more creative, and more efficient you. Learning something new, such as a language or how to play a musical instrument, or putting yourself in challenging environments will form new pathways in your brain (known as neuroplasticity), increasing neural connections and changing your default ways of thinking.
Who doesn’t want to be healthier, happier, and smarter?! Bring on the NEW: We here at Mindhatch hereby “resolve” (ugh) to encourage you to embrace the new and love it!
If you’re familiar with our work at Mindhatch, you know we’ve built our practice to help businesses and organizations embrace the new, adapt to it, and get the most out of it rather than meet it with fear. All too often we get stuck in the well grooved paths of how things have always been done — and how we have always done them — and sell our lives, our work, and our thinking short as a result.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney
We also try to take a similar new-forward approach to our lives: How can we actively pursue new habits and experiences that will expand our thinking? How can we better adapt to our ever-changing lives, work, and world?
The answer: Get in the practice of trying new things, both big and small, whether at work or at home. From our years of working in the innovation and change profession, we offer up 23 ways to work a little new into your life.
Start Small: 7 Ways to Start Flexing Your “New” Muscle
Little steps will help you break out of your routine or take a good, hard look at it to identify what’s working for you and what’s not.
- Add a “new” twist to something you already enjoy doing such as opting for the park instead of the treadmill for your daily run.
- Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or send a text.
- If traffic isn’t a factor, take the scenic route on your way to work.
- When you walk into a building you frequent often, go left to the elevator instead of right or vice versa.
- Try a new cuisine, either at a restaurant or at home.
- Switch up the place or time for a recurring meeting.
- Start said meeting with a special “warm up” instead of the usual introductions or small talk.
Commit to learning a new word every day. (Try the Word of the Day app or the more playful Words with Friends.)
“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.” –Carol S. Dweck
Stretch: 9 Ways to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
As you get the hang of trying new things, start reaching for experiences that take you beyond your level of comfort. The magic of stepping out of your comfort zone is that each time you do, the zone expands: What was once scary, no longer is.
- Sign up for a workshop or a class: Think improv, dance, pottery, music, cooking, etc.
- Commit to doing one big thing that scares you (ex. skydiving, running a marathon, giving a speech) each year before your birthday.
- Strive to become a polymath by subscribing to general knowledge things like Mental Floss, The Great Courses, MasterClass, etc.
- Ask for new or different responsibilities at work.
- Paint your office or a room at home a fresh, new color.
- Rent out a room in your home occasionally to meet new people.
- Try something your eight-year-old self would be proud of, like learning to surf, playing the drums, or building a treehouse.
- Plan a trip or a solo trip.
- Go to a weird-for-you convention or museum, such as the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, Comic-Con, or BrickUniverse. We personally have enjoyed a random visit to the Museum of Death in Los Angeles and can’t wait to visit the Museum of Failure in Sweden.
Go Big: 7 Ways to Really Shake Things Up
Big new things aren’t for the faint of heart, but they will certainly make a big impact. Focus on what you’ll learn or gain along the way.
- Change jobs.
- Move to a new neighborhood, city, or country!
- End or begin a new friendship or relationship.
- Marie Kondo your home and make a mass donation of many things that you own.
- Become a foster parent for children or pets.
- Reconnect with a long-lost friend or family member.
- Commit to a big pursuit such as visiting every country in the world, cooking a meal from every known cuisine, etc.
In our increasingly busy and demanding lives, we get that embracing the new might be a little intimidating. It’s hard to want to rock the boat when you’re just trying to keep your head above water. However, keep in mind everything you have to gain: A healthier, happier, smarter, and more creative you. As we are fond of saying, “It’s a risk if you do, and it’s a risk if you don’t.” Now, go out there, take some risks and have some fun!