By Dawn Allcot
Forget New Year’s resolutions you’ll break before spring. Try something new in 2013! Better yet, do eight new things. That’s less than one adventure a month – even with a packed schedule you can manage that!
When we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, it disrupts our worldview – in a good way. We begin to adopt the mindset that anything is possible and experience what it’s like to live without baggage or fear. We can tap into that feeling the next time we face a more mundane “adventure,” like deadlines at work or cranky kids.
Take it from personal development coach Brian Reid, who hosts Horses Know the Way Home Workshops in Jamestown RI: an adventure can empower you to achieve your goals . “When you do something like swimming with an 1,800-pound Shire mare, it shakes up everything you know,” he says.
We chatted up experts and adventurous souls alike to devise this list of eight crazy, fun and empowering activities. At the end of the year, you’ll have memories to last a lifetime and some greater insight into your own inner strength.
1. Swim with a horse. The premise behind Reid’s workshops is that animals, which are completely authentic, can help us get in touch with our true self. “With horses, you don’t have to be perfect,” Reid explains. “You just have to be willing to be honest and genuine and authentic. You empower yourself through vulnerability.” The experience of swimming with a horse is close to weightlessness or flying, says those who’ve done it. “None of my prior experiences horseback riding compared to what it’s like to swim with [a horse]. Feeling that power beneath me as she used her legs to propel us around made me feel like I was flying on a mythical sea horse,” says Long Islander Nancy Barker, a regular attendee of Reid’s workshops. “I felt empowered, strong, and goddess-like.”
2. Test out the job of your dreams. You’re never too old to learn something new – or to start a new career. If you have dreams of changing careers, or just want a part-time job after retirement, consider asking someone in that field if you can job shadow them. Websites like PivotPlanet.com make it easy to Skype with a mentor or even spend a day learning the ropes in a new field to see if it’s for you.
3. Play an extreme sport. From roller blading to mountain biking, New York is filled with activities for the athletically inclined. Paintball is one weekend diversion anyone can play. It’s even used as a corporate team-building activity. Throughout the year, fields in Long Island, Staten Island and beyond are filled with men, women and families looking for stress-busting fun. Tonya Kniazev, a SUNY student from New York City, thrives on the adrenaline rush the sport offers. “Running straight into a battle and knowing that your teammates are right there next to you is empowering.” She loves the opportunity to achieve heroic feats in a safe environment. “Everyone should try it at least once!” she says.
4. Dive with sharks. Getting messy not your thing? A shark dive at Riverhead’s Atlantic Aquarium could get your blood pumping. Barker says, “The shark dive is adventurous. It gives you an appreciation for an animal in their environment. You’re doing something outside your comfort zone, and are facing perceived danger, even if it’s within the controlled environment of a tank and cage.”
5. Go ziplining. Safer (and less costly!) than a jump from space, ziplining lets you appreciate nature and experience a sense of flying and adventure in a controlled environment. Hunter Mountain, just a few hours from New York City, boasts the second longest zipline in the world, more than four miles long and traveling up to 50 miles per hour.
6. Purge your space. In some homes, clearing clutter could be considered an extreme sport. Anyone who’s woken up to a clean, organized closet knows how uplifting the end result can be. Add the “fun” factor to this tedious task by planning a garage sale for the spring. It’s a great way to clear your space, socialize with neighbors, and earn some extra cash.
7. Help others. Researchers at Stamford University showed that performing random acts of kindness makes you happier. But the acts don’t have to be random to make a difference. Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” offers another recommendation: “If you want to build your happiness based on the happiness you bring to other people, it’s more productive to be targeted.” Asserting that people are often confused and suspicious of “random” acts of kindness, she recommends things like helping a co-worker even if you have deadlines yourself, or spending a few minutes helping a mother struggling with toddlers pack her groceries. That’s real bravery.
8. Create a spa experience in your bathroom. Discovering your self-worth doesn’t have to involve “larger-than-life” activities. New York Feng Shui consultant Ken Lauher says, “Find the things in your life you use every day, and create a meaningful experience from them.” He recommends turning your bathroom in to a mini-spa. Stock your space with your favorite shampoo, conditioner, lotions and body gel, and take time to pamper yourself. “Ideally, we want to wake up feeling strong, healthy, vibrant and in control of our lives,” he says. “Buy products that invigorate and inspire you and brighten your day.”