If you’re like me, the beginning of a new week, or a new month, is often the perfect time to start a new venture – taking up a hobby, learning a skill, even starting a business.

But, no matter how many times you’ve promised yourself that you’re going to make some changes in your life, it isn’t always easy to get started. For many of us, it’s fear that holds us back. For others, we’re not quite sure what we want to do next.

If you know it’s time to take your next step – to add something new to your life or head in a different direction – try these five tips to get you going.

 
 

Talk to Other People

Even if you know what you want to do next, you may not be sure how to get started. If you tell your friends about it, chances are someone can give you good guidance.

I’m often shy about sharing my dreams and goals with other people. However, when I do, I’m amazed at how quickly someone will suggest I meet a particular person, read a certain book or take some other helpful step.

These are almost always suggestions I would never have thought about on my own. Sharing my plans with others was difficult the first time, but it certainly gets easier. Now I know to ask people when I know they’re versed in a topic that interests me.

Try Three New Things

Sometimes I know I want to engage in something new, but I don’t know exactly what it is. That’s always a good time to experiment with several activities. Trying three new things over the course of the next month or so can give you a much better sense of what you really want to do.

Maybe you want to do something with your hands, but you aren’t sure what. Try knitting, American Sign Language and figure drawing. Your goal is not to be an instant master. You’re just testing the feel of the knitting needles in your hands or watching an ASL video on YouTube.

If you do something – rather than simply think about doing it – you’re much more likely to know if you want to adopt the activity in your life. Give yourself time to experiment and plenty of time to develop your skill.

Take a Class

When you do find an activity you’d like to pursue, you may want to learn more about it. One of the best ways to learn is to take a class. You can do it online at websites like Coursera or Master Class, or you can take a class at a local community college or learning center.

I took a photography class a few years ago and got a much better sense of how to compose a photo and what to do with it once I’d taken it. If you really want to concentrate on a subject or a skill, you might consider immersing yourself in it for a longer period at a weekend workshop or retreat.

Attend a Retreat or a Residency

Whether you’re interested in yoga, leadership skills, writing or art, there are retreats or residencies available to let you concentrate for a weekend, a week or longer. Many have onsite teachers or leaders, while others are simply focused on giving you time to yourself to pursue your interest.

Again, the key is engaging in the activity, instead of sitting in your living room promising yourself that tomorrow you’ll look into doing something new and interesting. Whatever you want to do, it needs to be your interest, not something that someone else suggests you might like.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

One of the ways we sabotage ourselves is by pushing ourselves to do things that other people like rather than sticking with our own interests. Just because your best friend loves to paint doesn’t mean you need to enjoy it as well.

Even if you just want to expand your reading list, if it’s your personal goal, that’s all that counts. Some people have many hobbies and interests while others might have only one. Comparing yourself to someone else is a good way to feel glum about the whole thing and end up doing nothing.

Give Yourself Time

If you’ve been feeling bored or dissatisfied, and you know a change would do you good, don’t rush to do something just because you feel you have to. Give yourself time to think about what interests you and let yourself explore it at your own pace.

Many people worry because they don’t feel ‘passionate’ about their hobbies. But finding new interests doesn’t mean we’re seeking something we can’t live without. You’re not looking for the meaning of life; you’re simply trying some new activities to spice up your days.

And remember, the goal is to help you feel better about yourself and your life. If you end up chastising yourself for not finding something you love or taking too long to get there, you have defeated the purpose of the activity.

Do some exploring and experimenting and try your hand at a few things. This is all just research designed to increase your interests and change your patterns. Take a few steps and then take a few more. Who knows what you’ll learn about yourself and the world around you?

What new activity would you like to try? Are you interested in something to do with your hands, your brain or your heart? Which of your friends or acquaintances could be a good source of information or inspiration for a new interest? Please join the conversation below.

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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