“Who you are tomorrow begins with what you do today.” – Tim Fargo
If you feel a bit stagnated in life at this point and want to do something proactive to expand your possibilities, what can you realistically do? Here are some suggestions to consider:
Start with an open mindset.
You’ll never know what you don’t know if you automatically close yourself off to possibilities. Telling yourself that you lack the experience or education or background, or that you’re from the wrong neighborhood, aren’t outgoing enough, or possess various and sundry supposed character flaws is more an excuse than legitimate. Even if some of the negatives are true, a little resistance didn’t stop many successful individuals, so why characterize yourself as incompetent, unlikely to succeed or undeserving of achievement.
Instead, cultivate an open mindset, a mental frame of mind where you believe that you are fully capable of meeting any and all challenges, bringing creativity and a fresh approach to problem-solving, discovering the unexpected and learning how to make it useful, valuable, and something to share. You may not always come out the winner, yet with an open mindset, even missing the mark may turn out to be a plus. You may pick up a thread that leads to an opportunity you didn’t know existed, or thought could ever be available to you. For even more insight, try open-minded meditation.
Be constantly curious.
Curiosity can be defined as a state of active interest, or wanting to know more about something that intrigues us. If you are curious, you’re more open to new experiences, even unfamiliar routines and meeting people. This provides a foundation for discovering opportunities, finding out that you have talents or strengths and pursuing these unfolding possibilities to enhance your joy of living.
And you can cultivate and experience curiosity at any age. A 2018 study in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews found that curiosity in older adults, while it does decline with age, has an important role in maintaining physical and mental health, and cognitive function.
Try new things.
How can you expect to expand your possibilities if you always stick to the same routine, limit your circle of friends, shy away from getting involved in any activity that’s not familiar, and avoid going where you’ve never been before? Fear of the unknown, or fear of failure may be at the root of this apprehension or unwillingness to try new things, yet it is not an insurmountable barrier. You can rationalize that you’re likely to be safe, and that no dire consequences will probably occur. Bolster your resolve to get out and venture into something new by doing research into the activity, journey, group, or pastime. The more knowledge you get before attempting something new, the more confidence you’ll have in your ability to handle it. Besides, think of the opportunities trying something new exposes you to. You’ll never know until you try.
Broaden your network.
If you’ve had the same set of friends since your high school days, good for you that you’re still in touch with them. If, however, you’ve limited yourself to friendships with only those individuals you’ve known for years, you are boxing yourself in and putting limits on what you might be able to learn by widening your sphere of friends.
Granted, old friendships are like lived-in shoes: they’re comfortable and you don’t have to worry about them. Yet, even those old, comfortable shoes can become boring. You might yearn for something new. The same holds true with networks of friends. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to meet new people and make new friends. It doesn’t mean you’re going to ditch your tried-and-true friends, just that you want to add more people to those you already know. Besides, broadening your network puts you in contact with people who may be a direct or indirect link to possibilities you hadn’t known about before, like an introduction to someone who may be able to offer a service you need, or a job referral. In career and in everyday life, your network(s) can serve you well in many ways.
Always have a plan, yet be open to revising it.
Most people have some idea of what they’re going to do before they begin the process or task. It may be a formal plan, with step-by-step instructions, or a general outline. It may not be anything that’s written, but rather a guide that you keep in your head. The point is to have a plan always ready. Why? You need a way to gauge how well you’re doing in relation to your plan, how far along you’ve come and what’s left to be done. You may also need to make some modifications or adjustments as you proceed, and a plan allows you to do that. Just be willing to revise your plan so that you can maximize your chances of success. One plan that results in a positive outcome can lead to other plans that may provide a glimpse into even more possibilities.
Embrace failure as a learning opportunity.
Not everything you do will be an instant success. Some endeavors meet with less-than-ideal outcomes. This is not bad. It is, however, part of an overall learning experience, as an article in the Harvard Business Review points out. The way you perceive what happens greatly influences both subsequent actions and motivation to either pursue another attempt or to try something new. By examining what went wrong, didn’t meet goals or expectations, or just barely came to completion, you’ll likely find clues to areas that may need further attention. You may have skipped a step or two, or been in a hurry to finish. Learning from mistakes is a life lesson that nearly every successful individual has come to welcome.
Relish enthusiasm and exuberance, for these emotions will be self-motivating.
Excitement, enthusiasm, and exuberance are high motivators for almost any endeavor. When you’re excited, you can’t wait to get going or continue. When you’re enthusiastic, you have a positive mindset and are eager to get to work. Exuberance is the physical and emotional expression of joy and happiness. All of these can lead to tackling a big project, going on a journey, meeting clients, taking up a new hobby or recreational activity, learning a skill, going back to school, and more. Besides, positive and life-affirming emotions help you see the possibilities where others may not, even where you may not have seen them in the past.