We all try to embrace the concept of lifelong learning, but often struggle to find meaningful and fun strategies to incorporate learning and curiosity into our daily lives. To help bridge this divide, I Start Wondering… will periodically offer strategies, tools and resources to help you enhance your own explorations and spark your curiosity.
In this spirit, we’d like to share a great idea, courtesy of Kaye from Montana. Approaching her 50th birthday, Kaye wanted to do something to mark this milestone year. She decided on a goal of “50 Fabulous Things at 50.” This approach also can be used to a life transition or in place of a New Year’s resolution.
Are you curious and want to learn learning more? Here’s Kaye’s account:
Q: How did you come up with this idea?
There is not much longevity in my family (my mom got terminal breast cancer at 54) so reaching 50 felt like sort of a milestone to me. Not to be morbid, but I have gotten to a point in my life where I feel it’s important to appreciate every moment because I never know when it will come to an end. Coming from this mindset, I thought it would be fun to record memorable events that happened throughout the year so I could enjoy reflecting on them afterwards.
Q: Did you seek things out or were these things that presented themselves? And how did you decide what to say “yes” to?
Initially I thought I would need to plan various experiences in order to have something memorable to record throughout the year. I am naturally curious so I anticipated exploring new places, tasting different foods and meeting interesting people. I kept an open mind and started thinking of things I had always wanted to try. But, ironically, there was no planning needed because this year turned out to be one of the most eventful ever!
Q: What were some of your adventures?
They started out innocently enough with a surprise birthday party thrown by my friends, a delicious tamale-making class, a fun food/beer pairing evening (even though I am not a beer drinker), and the acquisition of a new iPad. I saw my very first drag queen show, observed a “slam poetry” competition and enjoyed a weekend getaway in a historic log cabin that had been transported from North Carolina to Texas. Pretty fun, right?
Q: What surprises did you encounter?
The surprising twist was not everything that happened during the year I turned 50 was fabulous. First, my organization was victim to a hostile takeover that put my job in jeopardy so I had to seek employment elsewhere. I landed an awesome position–in a major city three hours away! I rented an apartment and began commuting home on the weekends only to have my husband lose his job a month later. Next, instead of coming to live in the city with me, my husband made the surprise decision to move to Montana so he could renovate a small cabin we purchased a few years earlier. What?!? Thus began our long distance marriage and my new life as the sole breadwinner supporting two households. This was followed by the death of our beloved 17-year-old cat and a broken tooth on New Year’s Eve, which led to my first experience with major dental work. Not so fun.
Q: What did you learn?
It was kind of trial by fire, but I learned to adapt and become self-sufficient. With my husband living six states away, I had to be independent and rely on myself as I negotiated a new car purchase alone, sold our previous house and learned my way around an unfamiliar city. As the year progressed, I met fantastic new friends, discovered all sorts of cultural experiences and developed an increased sense of self-confidence. I am sure this helped me to succeed in my new position and I was pretty proud of how everything turned out.
Q: Have you continued any of these new things?
Three years later I have maintained that same sense of adventure and independence. My husband and I are finally living together in our newly renovated home in Montana and I am beginning to learn my way around our community. I still seek out new experiences and try to view everything I encounter with an open mind. Moving from a major city to a rural community of 4,900 people has been a real learning experience, to say the least, but I have enjoyed it immensely and welcomed the opportunity for personal growth.
Q: How could someone do this in place of a New Year’s Resolution?
Instead of making a resolution to do or change one thing during the year, anyone could use this same approach to simply explore what the New Year has to offer. It’s really a matter of attitude. As random opportunities present themselves, before automatically saying “no,” try saying “why not?” just to see what happens. My life is certainly a lot fuller today because I was willing to dive in and experience so many new things I had not even planned on doing. I believe this attitude has helped me easily adapt to my new surroundings and see the joy in trying something new.