Old dog, new tricks: Finding courage to try new things

Remember the thrill of riding a bike for the first time, or turning a perfect cartwheel? Regain that feeling as an adult by picking up a new skill or hobby. It's never too late to learn something new. This article will give you the courage to try.

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  • You’re never too old to learn something new, but it can be harder to try new things when you are an adult. There are many benefits to picking up new hobbies and skills as you get older. Your mind and body will age, but you can offset some of the effects of aging by keeping yourself active. Making time for yourself will enhance other areas of your life, like work and relationships. These seven ideas will help you feel motivated to learn some new tricks.

  • Be fearless

  • You may not be good at it the first time, but don’t let fear stop you from doing the things you want to. In my family we use Yoda’s mantra as our own: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Resolving to do it will help you get started. My husband put this idea into play when he was asked to climb Mt. Hood (located in Oregon, USA) with some friends. He read up on mountaineering, bought appropriate gear, and started getting in better physical shape.

  • Childhood dreams

  • Is there something you wanted to learn when you were younger, but never did? Just because you’re grown up doesn’t mean you can't make your dreams come true. Start piano lessons, try tap dancing or learn to play tennis. A friend of mine never learned to swim, so she took lessons as an adult. Realizing dreams imagined years ago will give you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

  • New adventures

  • Young people are always up for adventures. You can be too. Don’t let your routine keep you from exploring new places. When you vacation, look for something out of the ordinary to do. Find an interesting hike or drive a more scenic route. Seek out destinations that are off the beaten path, or plan a trip to a place you’ve always wanted to see. I’m saving up for a trip to England, a place I’ve wanted to visit since falling in love with English literature.

  • Out of your comfort zone

  • You are bound to feel a bit uncomfortable when doing something for the first time. Anticipate that feeling, and then put it out of your mind or use it to help motivate you to succeed. I was determined to run a marathon after taking up the sport in my late 20s. Although it was physically and mentally taxing, it was also exhilarating to run distances I’d never covered before. Now I have less trepidation about doing something new.

  • Make time for you

  • One thing that keeps me from trying new things is time. It’s important to work time for personal development into your daily life. Add things like yoga class or guitar lesson to your to do list. Tell your family and friends about your plans, and ask them to support you in your new hobby. Set a reminder on your phone or email, or put a reminder where you will see it often. Don’t let, “I don’t have enough time,” keep you from trying something new.

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  • Keep your mind sharp

  • Even though I finished college years ago, there are classes I never took. I have a desire to study art history, so I’m planning on auditing a class when my kids are all in school. Since my daughter is attending a Spanish immersion school, I’m trading in my French for Spanish, learning on my own with language software. Keeping your mind active as you age can help delay age-related conditions like dementia and forgetfulness.

  • Grab a friend

  • Trying something new might be easier with a friend along. I would like to try archery, so my husband and I are going to go to a local range for a date. There are clubs and organizations for many sports and hobbies, from fencing to knitting. Do some research and find a group to help you get started. People with love and expertise are often the most enthusiastic teachers.

  • Remember what it was like to be a child? There was always something new to learn, like writing your name to riding a bike. Recapture that feeling as an adult by trying something new. It will keep you young and impress the young people in your life.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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