If you’re like me, life seems perfect when there is a manageable routine. I’m not a stick-in-the-mud, but I like it when I can plan ahead, when I know how my day is going to go and when I feel confident about the tasks on my to-do list.

But the longer I enjoy my ventures in the land of retirement, the more I’m also learning to value the unexpected.

This doesn’t mean I sit around hoping for unforeseen circumstances, but it does mean that I am beginning to understand how important it is to insert something new into the mix on a regular basis. Adding something new to your life occasionally can give you a different perspective, build your confidence in your own abilities and open whole new vistas you’ve yet to explore.

 
 

How About Meeting Some New People?

As much as we enjoy our regular sets of friends and family members, meeting new people can expose us to new ways of thinking, different types of activities and interests, even parts of town we don’t normally frequent.

If you join a club, attend a weight-loss program, volunteer at a new location or even take a part-time job, you’re likely to meet new people who can add to your life. It shakes things up. It provides you with new ideas to consider and perspectives you might now think about in your regular, routine life.

Interested in a New Sport or Activity?

Joining a training group at your local running store, a book club at the corner library, a Zumba class at your gym or a cooking class at the co-op may not sound as if it could change your life, but it’s highly possible that it can add a new dimension.

You’re challenging yourself to learn something new with a group of people who are likely there for the same reason. It does wonders to have new friends listen attentively to your contributions to a discussion or ask to for your opinion. And, like others participating in the activity, you aren’t there to be an expert, but simply to learn something new.

You’ll meet people of different ages and backgrounds and this will add to your overall sense of self-confidence. You may not want to take it quite this far, but another option for learning something new is to take a class at an area college.

How About Heading Back to School?

Most community colleges are affordable, especially if you’re just taking one class. And, you can choose from a wide range of options, meaning you can take a strictly academic class like history, or perhaps a more creative course like drawing or painting. I took a photography class a few years ago and, although I was definitely the oldest person in the class, I learned so much about how to really look at the world around me. I also finished the class at the end of the semester with the sense that I was not a bad photographer at all.

I even went back to graduate school when I retired and earned a second master’s degree – this one a Master of Fine Arts degree presented in a low-residency format, meaning I only had to go to campus twice a year. The rest was done via email and Skype. It gave me such a great chance to learn about myself, my fellow students and the subject I was studying that it changed my life forever in the most positive ways imaginable.

Read Anything New Lately?

An even simpler way to learn something new is to simply find a recommended reading list and start in on books you haven’t read before. Everyone from the local library to Amazon to The Huffington Post offers reading lists for adults.

Even if you don’t like every book on the list, you’re likely to come across at least a few that get you thinking and may even change your views. There’s really no better way to shake things up than taking in some new ideas.

Want to Toss Out the Routine?

Finally, one of the simplest ways to change your routine is to literally change your routine. Take your daily walk in a different neighborhood. Try a restaurant you’ve never been to. Drive an alternate route to a place you go regularly. Take a vacation in a place you’ve never thought about before. One of the best ways to keep our minds alert and our lives interesting is to make manageable changes on a regular basis.

Even though we all appreciate the certainty of routine, the growth we experience when we step outside of it is priceless. As author Paulo Coelho once wrote, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine: it is lethal.” Why not give it a try?

What new thing can you do this week that will change your routine in a manageable way? Can you think of a subject or skill you’ve always wanted to learn more about? Are there new books you would recommend for Sixty and Me readers? Please share in the comments.

Ginny McReynolds is a longtime writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College, and writes about communication, retirement, reinvention, self-concept and creativity in The Washington Post, Curve magazine, and Together.guide. Please visit her blog called Finally Time for This: A Beginner’s Guide to the Second Act of Life.

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