Embrace new life and work experiences — even miserable snow
Let’s set this straight right away: I don’t like snow. It’s cold and slippery.
Why, then, am I giddy as I type, watching several inches of the white stuff accumulate outside my window?
I even ventured out — for about five minutes — as my desire to take pretty pictures overtook my sanity. That’s what I tell myself anyway. But if I’m honest with myself, the bundled-up Michelin Man version of myself excitedly kicked the snow with my boots, tasted a few flakes with my mouth agape, and remembered the fun-filled snow days of my youth. Back then, before practicality overtook me in adulthood, the cold didn’t stop me from sledding and making snow angels.
Now inside with a hot cup of tea, why do I find myself smiling at the white scene outside? Because it is a fresh experience. For the last 25 years in California, I, for the most part, have successfully avoided the snow.
Believe it or not, I even felt invigorated this week meeting my new general practitioner and visiting her family practice for the first time. Yes, it was snowing during that doctor visit. But that wasn’t what energized me. It was the contrast from what was familiar. Instead of the huge Kaiser Permanente complex — a system that I liked and that provided me with excellent care — here I was at a small-town doctor’s office where the phlebotomist came to me in my exam room after the GP had spent half an hour getting to know me.
These five months since I quit my job, traveled across the country and moved to North Carolina, I’ve thrived in the newness — whether treading through the snow, making a wrong turn on unfamiliar streets, or developing new professional contacts.
With regret, I now realize that I failed to embrace all sorts of potential new experiences during much of the last decade and a half. For all those years, I lived in the same house, kept the same job, and slipped into a rut in all other aspects of my life. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my home, the city of Sacramento and my work as a business reporter. But year after year of sameness took its toll. After awhile, the only time I felt truly alive was when I was traveling on vacation to a foreign country or at least a new domestic locale.
Catching the social media bug several years ago only made me hungrier for additional new challenges and experiences. As I interviewed entrepreneurs for my job, I listened with envy at the risks they were brave enough to take.
In a recent debate, I successfully convinced a friend that dissatisfaction isn’t always the only reason that people seek new jobs or cities. Just think of serial entrepreneurs, I argued. They’re driven by a desire to create new possibilities — not by a need to distance themselves from a past venture.
To riff on Kenny Rogers’ old tune for my situation, years of monotony were bottled up inside me, so I wasn’t holding nothing back. For me, the solution was to drastically shake up my life by moving 3,000 miles away and pursuing a new career.
What’s it going to take to rouse you out of your routine? How much change do you need? Whether you reach for new experiences small or large, breaking away from safe and familiar will enrich everything else that remains constant in your life.