When is the last time you did something for the first time?
I heard this adage (for the first time) a few days ago just before embarking on my first Tough Mudder—a 10-mile run (OK, walk for me) interrupted by 20 obstacles, most of which involved cold water and mud. One even had electricity. It took my husband and me nearly five hours to finish.
Why, at age 54, was I doing this? Because I never had. Because I still could. Because if I don’t keep challenging myself I will atrophy physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It’s why a very good friend, who is in his 70s, is right now walking 500 miles along the Camino De Santiago in Spain—by himself.
Look, we are all in the healthcare field. We know the myriad ways in which our bodies fail. In just the past two months a friend lost her sister to ovarian cancer; another friend was diagnosed with prostate cancer; a high school friend died of throat cancer; a friend in her 20s had a recurrence of the rare brain tumor that nearly killed her as a child; and another friend’s husband—who is in great health—experienced chest pain and wound up with a stent.
None of these people are/were “old.”
So my husband and I now have a new routine. Every Sunday night, we look back at the previous week and ask ourselves: When is the last time we did something for the first time? And if we can’t answer the question, we make sure to plan something for the coming week.
It doesn’t have to be diving into a tank of ice water and swimming to the other side (yes, I did that). It could be something as simple as playing hooky and heading for a hike somewhere you’ve never been. Going after a new project at work that scares the heck out of you. Trying out for a spot in the community theater or pulling out your old guitar and heading to open mike night. Even turning to the person sitting next to you in the coffee shop and starting a conversation.
Ideally, it’s something that gets you out of your comfort zone and challenges you. Something that makes you sit back and say, “Wow. I can’t believe I did that.”
So ask yourself: “When is the last time I did something for the first time?”
And let me know your answer.
To read more about overcoming fear and taking risks, check out this post: From CrossFit to StorySlam: The Value of Taking Risks.