When it comes to having fun, I really have to push myself. No, not just during a pandemic, but in regular times, too.
Doesn’t that sound silly?
It’s not that I don’t have fun; I consider my job quite fun and adventurous! And I take great pleasure in eating and playing with my kids as well. But can’t you hear a bit of “arrested development” in this area for me?
I know there are true psychological and physical benefits of having fun, and that it’s an important part of a well-balanced life. But the truth is, if I didn’t really pay attention and consciously “take on” fun, I wouldn’t have any. No matter if I was pandemically stuck at home or out and about. It’s a weak area for me. You see, in both locations (home or out of the home…wait for it…I’m there).
Everyone has weak areas, or, what we at HG call, “cavity prone areas,” and everyone benefits from taking them on. Left alone for too long, just like a long ignored cavity, a root canal is needed.
“Take On” Your Limiting Thoughts and Behaviors
One of the first assignments in HG Life is to assess your satisfaction in all areas of your life, including, but WAY not limited to, Relationship to Self, Body, Love, Career, Money, Time, Family, and more. While some of the areas are easy to assess, others tend to stump people.
Years ago, when I first completed this assignment, the one that stumped me was “Fun & Adventure.” For whatever reason (see: stickler), it had never been a topic of particular importance to me. Some people have no problem prioritizing this area in their lives, while others (myself obviously included) reject that it is even an area we should have to care about.
This truth stayed with me as I was planning a family vacation later that summer. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to challenge myself to a little adventure. Normally, my vacations would consist of catching up on work, spending extra time with family, reading a novel, and chilling out. Not very adventurous! As the vacation drew nearer, I saw this same pattern coming from a mile away. I dove straight into my challenge by making one simple promise or personal law for the vacation: to have five new adventures on that trip. I knew it would get me out of my comfort zone and into something new and interesting. My kids were on board with the plan!
Stay Consistent With Your Dream
Vacation day came, and I put up a vacation alert on my email and triple-checked our bags. I deliberately avoided packing paperwork, open ended work items, or even light reading material. I already felt more daring, and a little nervous too! But I tossed trepidations aside and we headed out on our 14 hour drive to Lake Michigan. Right there in the car, I told myself there were plenty of opportunities for new experiences. I started small, counting “listening to Alice In Wonderland on tape with the kids” (normally I’d check email) and “NOT complaining about our motel smell” as new adventures. They were for me!
I had grander options when we arrived at our destination.
On day one, I went inner-tubing with the kids. It was not at ALL like me to get on a boat, when I could have been lying on the beach with my book. My kids were shocked at this, and then even more so when, at the end of our ride, I chose to jump in the lake and swim back to the boat (rather than get towed back). My kids had barely ever seen me fully submerged, let alone in a cold lake! I triumphantly added this to my list of new adventures.
This last one will make you laugh (or, fine…smirk). My husband likes to drive, but I don’t and normally wouldn’t get behind the wheel unless I had to. He and the kids went on a little excursion and left me back at the hotel where I could have taken a nap or snuck in a little work. Instead, I decided to go exploring in town. I took the car, I drove, I parked, I got out and walked around with no particular intention. I found my way into a bookstore and treated myself to a new novel I had been eyeing, my reward for challenging myself.
Be You, Only Better
Now, none of these may seem that fun or adventurous to you. They were to me, and that’s what’s important. For me, each of those activities was so totally new and unlike me that it WAS an adventure, and an important learning experience. I found out that doing things “unlike you” is the best way to expand, have fun, and to prove the theory that more IS possible in life, in whatever area you’re dreaming about.
You certainly do not need to restrict this mentality to vacation times. It works on staycations too (don’t wince, we could view this as that!). Committing yourself to new experiences, adventures, and intentional FUN does wonders for your body, mind, and spirit – especially if you’re someone like me who tends to keep fun at the bottom of the to-do list. Being “unlike you” can be a wildly exhilarating and fulfilling experience!
Take on the challenge and make one promise in the area of fun & adventure during quarantine! Go play frisbee, design a chalk mural on the sidewalk, plan a zoom dance party with your friends, drive to a new part of town, take a virtual Zumba class…anything that is totally “unlike you!” You can thank me later.
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Laurie Gerber is a Senior Coach and Co-President of Handel Group® Life Coaching. For over 15 years, Laurie has led international events and private coaching courses. She has appeared on MTV’s True Life, A&E’s The Marriage Test, Dr. Phil and TODAY.
Image courtesy of Leah Kelly.