My Month of Trying New Things

In the spirit of reinvigorating and revitalizing my creative and business endeavors, I promised myself to spend the month of May trying one new thing each week. It didn't have to be anything revolutionary or expensive -- just something that was new to me.

I entered a contest for a writing critique, attended a virtual conference, joined a Twitter chat and took a pile of clothes and an appetizer to a Naked Lady party.

You can see that none of these were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or even particularly bold moves on my part. But they were new to me, things I hadn't bothered to make time for before, things I might have continued avoiding if I hadn't forced myself to branch out. Doing these few simple things brought new energy, interesting people, captivating conversations and new clothes (!) into my life.

Of course there were risks that came with broadening my horizons. I risked being bored, wasting my time, meeting unpleasant people, and any number of humiliations or discomforts that come from stepping outside of that comfort zone.

Many of us are naturally reticent to try new things, especially in the nonprofit world. Trying something new -- testing a new direct mail package, working in a new media channel, cultivating a new major donor -- can be challenging, expensive and filled with risk. Why push boundaries when the old ones make us feel so safe and comfortable?

Fear creeps in: What if I'm terrible at it? What if I look like an idiot? What if I waste a bunch of money for no results?

It's all too easy to make excuses: Do I really have time to add one more thing to my schedule? If I do this, I'll have to dress up/buy tickets/skip lunch/be social/be alone. What if that direct mail test bombs?

But the thing about moving outside your comfort zone is that it gives you a new comfort zone, one that's roomier and maybe even a little more abundant than it was before.

I felt so revitalized by my May experiment that I kept it up, attending a marketing and networking luncheon with a new professional group in June! I plan on trying something new every month for the rest of the year -- if not longer -- to keep my ideas fresh, my mind sharp and my horizons broad.

I challenge you to try one new thing this week. No expectations, no long-term commitments. Just one thing you've never tried before. I bet you'll be glad you did.

But either way, I want to hear about it!