Last week I mentioned how, in the midst of settling down into my new house, I also feel like I'm just straight-up settling. While I love my life in Richmond and want to stay here, it still feels like I'm losing the adventure in life. Dawdling about in this feeling is a bad option, so I've decided to challenge myself to keep the passion alive. Here are a few ways I've consciously ensured I'm staying without settling:
1. Make new friends.
Now would be a good time to mention that there's nothing wrong with my old friends. I love them and see them still all the time. I'm not replacing, but introducing new people in your life will expand your social circles, challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and make you less dependent on a few people. I needed to invigorate my 'staying,' but adding some new blood into the mix.
Some tips for making new friends that I've got for you.
- Take your time. It took me awhile to find people in Richmond that I truly care and connect with. That meant I hung out with quite a few groups of people that just didn't quite fit, so don't expect to hit it out of the park on your first attempt.
- Join teams. Even if you're not good at the sport, you'll meet new people.
- Make it your mission. What I've learned is a lot of people might actually want to be your friend, but don't want to put themselves out there. If you extend the olive branch, people will usually take it. I set a goal to talk to new people at work and do something that included more people, and it worked.
2. Set goals for yourself.
This one sounds weird, but I use milestones to reflect and set new goals. For example, weight loss was a cliched -- but needed -- New Year's Resolution, and on my birthday I set a "Just say no" motto where I stopped doing things I didn't want to do for fear of upsetting others.
My latest goal is pretty basic, but on my 25th birthday (which I didn't even write a post about because my writer's block was so horrendous), I told myself I need to implement some lessons from a book I read called Crucial Conversations. The whole point is making talking about hard stuff easier and more effective. Part of conversations is knowing what outcome you want, and I want to be better at knowing what I want the outcome to be. For example, I can complain that I'm unhappy, but until I can identify and articulate what will make me happy, I can't expect anything to change.
My goal is to define what makes me happy, then work toward those as my goals.
3. Balance what you know makes you happy with what could make you happy.
Sometimes I'm too much of a people pleaser and do things that I don't like. Or I eat at places I don't like. I'll let stronger opinions drown out mine, even if mine are better, because I just can't compete and don't want to have to constantly defend my choices.
Those are the times that I need to work on my own happiness and do what I know will make me happy. But on the other hand, you also need to take a step out every now and then and try something new. Strike a balance between activities you know you'll like with ones that might intimidate you, or you've just never had a true interest in.
Go to that restaurant that sounds questionably good rather than the same thing every day. Go on the zipline. Try new things, even if it costs money or you are not sure you'll like it. Just try things in the mixture of activities you know you'll like. Variety is the spice of life. Keep it spicy.
Golly, does this last one sound boring. But ask yourself: do you think you're really the first person who has ever felt like their life has gotten a bit too settled? Spoiler alert: you're not. There are plenty of books that chronicle other people's journey's to invigorate their daily lives.
Right now, I'm at the heart of The Happiness Project. While Gretchen is a wife, mother and full-time writer, which is very unlike me, she struggles with the same existential problem of feeling less-than-happy despite having a wonderful life. She writes about how she focuses on building energy, love and passion through monthly goals. I'm not nearly that structured, but I feel a whole lot less alone in my journey of staying without settling, knowing others have also found happiness in their daily lives, even when it feels mundane.