Want a little help now that you’re starting over single?  Not pie-in-the-sky advice, but something you can start today?  Stop acting your age and take this opportunity to try something new.  Give those preconceived notions the boot and learn to loosen up a little.  No, we’re not talking the swinging single stereotype, just open yourself to a different experience, something you may have never tried on your own. Sound difficult?  Don’t worry, we’re here to help, one step at a time.  You’ve got this.

The Escape Room

You’ve met someone new.  Met in person and had a few quasi-dates at the local coffee shop.  She has an idea.  “Don’t worry; you’ll love it!”  She leans in, hand around your arm, explaining the premise behind the new escape room in town.  “So we’re trapped in a room with ten other people, and we have to work together to figure out how to escape.”  She waits expectantly, knowing you’ll be as excited as she is. 

You aren’t.  Puzzles aren’t your thing.  Your idea was a day trip to a local winery, or maybe lunch along the coast.  But hold off before you tell her no.  Starting over means trying new things, and there’s no time like the present.  Just because you’ve never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t try it now.  Believe it or not, there’s room for new experiences and the winery tour.  It’s all about mindset.

Too often, our early life experiences peg us as a very specific type.  If you’ve ever taken a personality test, you may be thinking you fit neatly into a certain slot, and that’s not necessarily true.  People are complex. After a while, we grow comfortable with the label and forget that we can change it.  Everyone changes over time, but that doesn’t mean life needs to become predictable.  Let’s go back in time for a bit.  Here’s how to do it.

If you can dream it, you’re on the right track.

The first step to regaining that childlike wonder and desire to play (for real) is to think about it.  To remember what it was to be like a kid, without worries or concerns about what someone else might think.  Think back to how easy it was to jump in a lake, to fall when you were learning to skate.  Worry stimulates the production of cortisol in the brain; chronic worry can wear you down, and even lead to depression in some instances. 

Take a walk down memory lane and remember how wonderful it was as a child not to worry about everything you did.  Now, think about what you might like to do now. 

Michael was 55 years old with a teenage son keen on learning to snowboard.  Eager to spend time with his son, with a bad knee and no knowledge of snowboarding, Michael signed them both up for lessons.  It turns out the knee was okay, and both enjoyed the lessons.  Season passes all around.  “I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but I was completely wrong.  I feel like a kid again in the snow,” says Michael.  Opening himself to new experiences has provided a new way to connect.

How open are you?

We all carry preconceived notions of how we would handle certain situations.  Some are based in past experience, but others find their roots in how we think people expect us to act.  And then there’s the whole fear of the unknown thing.  Having active imaginations, it’s pretty easy for us to imagine worse case scenarios.   In reality, most of the things we fear will never come to pass.  In reality, most of the benefits gained won’t even be considered.  If you take the time to consider all the cons, do yourself a favor and try to name a few good results as well.  You may be surprised once you think about it. 

You’re never too old for starting over

John was widowed at age 72.  For years, he had invested virtually every hour working and rarely took a vacation.  When Grace died, he realized it was time for a change – for starting over.  His grandchildren were growing up and would soon head off to college.  Putting work aside, he jumped in with both feet.  Waterparks and water slides, learning how to sew, teaching his grand-daughter carpentry skills, road trips with his daughter.  There isn’t anything he won’t try.  The result?  He’s lighter and more accepting of the everyday.  A perfectionist, he’s learned to laugh at himself and enjoy the experience, realizing that perfection isn’t necessary.

Loosen Up & Laugh…At Yourself

You’ve got to be willing to laugh at yourself.  It may be difficult.  We all want to think of ourselves as exceptional or at least above average.  We can get it, and we can do anything, and do it well.  Not always, and that’s okay.  Learning to join in the laughter can be exhilarating and freeing.  It releases you from the stress of perfection and allows you to enjoy the ride, realizing we’re all in this together and no one is perfect.  Remember the laughter is not malicious, not meant to give offense.  It connects us as we’re all in the same boat; no one is gifted in everything.

Act your shoe size, not your age

It’s an adage that can ring true, to some extent.  We can all most likely remember things we said or did at 10 or 11 that weren’t out proudest moments.  Skip those.  Instead, remember the thrill of discovering something new, the pride you felt when you learned a new skill.  You can still feel that way now, and your brain will thank you.  Sure, there are any number of websites that offer brain games designed to stimulate new pathways and give your brain a workout.  But consider going old school.  Get out and try something new.  Put that brain to work in an escape room.  Learn how to ballroom dance.  Or maybe give hip-hop a try.  Climb on a snowboard or give a longboard a try.  Want to start a little smaller?  Try poetry, or graphic novels or read the classics.  Be brave a little it at a time.

Broadening Your Horizons

Why bother?  That’s the wrong question, try this one instead.  Why not?  As children, we are eager to learn new things, to take on challenges in a fresh, exciting world.  As adults, we tend not to get as enthusiastic about change.  We project a “been there, done that” attitude because as adults we have responsibilities, and there’s work to be done.  And both of those things are true.  But learning something new and managing adult responsibilities are not mutually exclusive.  You can have both if you want.  It really is a choice.

Back to that Escape Room Date

It doesn’t have to be a date with a new companion, though that would be fun.  It can be with your kids, or your friends, or perhaps with a group of people you don’t know all that well.  Regardless, the idea is to stretch yourself to embrace new ideas, to ponder new puzzles, to expand your horizons.  You have the ultimate power to decide, to choose, how you want to live your life.  Divorce was only one chapter.  What’s next for you?


(c) Can Stock Photo / ollyy

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