Jan 10

How to Branch Out For a Happier 2019

It’s January which means “new year, new me”—right?

 

Every year my New Year’s resolutions are all about self-improvement. I make a plan to read more books, go to the gym more often, or finally find a haircut that won’t make my hair look so frizzy all the time.

 

And while these resolutions generally help me set good goals for the year, last January I realized that none of my recent self-improvement resolutions helped me to improve my social life. So, last year I decided that my resolution should be to try new things, get out of my comfort zone and even gain some new life experiences. And that’s when I set a goal to branch out. And I did! I found myself making new friends, trying new things, and learning a lot about myself along the way.

 

While your New Year’s resolution may already be underway, you can use these four tips to branch out this month and see where it takes you.

 

 

Change up your routine

It didn’t take long for me to realize one of the easiest ways to start branching out is to simply break your routine. It’s so easy to get set in daily habits, especially when you’re so busy with work and mundane chores. You find yourself doing the same thing every single day, never giving yourself the opportunity to change it up.

 

I started small and took baby steps. Every night, I would come home from work feeling exhausted, eat dinner and go straight to bed. I thought it was about time I changed things up. I set a goal to go out with friends to a new place at least once a week. It wasn’t a big change — going out with some friends for sushi or going bowling — but it was just enough to make a difference to my routine. It helped me go to new places, meet new people, and have fun.  

 

You can do this, too, by finding a spot in your day that you have room to switch up. Maybe it’s changing your path on your evening jog or watching a different news channel in the morning. Changing your routine can open your mind to new things and give you an opportunity for new experiences.

 

 

Go on a culinary adventure

I’ve always been a bit of a picky eater. I know what I like and always find myself sticking to the safe option at a restaurant, something I know I like or I’ve had before. I even find myself going to the same restaurants over and over because I know the food will be good. I knew that in my quest to branch out this had to change.

 

I ended up making a sort of game out of it with one particular friend. Whenever we’d go out to eat, we’d try to find a place that neither of us had been to before. This was pretty easy to do in my city, as there are always new places popping up. Or, when I was alone, I’d go online and look up places to eat.

 

Some of the restaurants I went to were amazing, while others I’d for sure never go back to. But either way, I was so excited to learn more about food and about what I like. I always thought I was a picky eater, but it turns out that there is a lot of food I like. I love shabu-shabu, all kinds of Indian food, and even squash on pizza. It broadened my palate, expanded my culinary interests, and even opened my mind.

 

It’s amazing what a change of scenery (and menu) can do.

 

 

Learn something new

I found that one of the best ways to branch out is to take a class. If you’re having flashbacks to math tests from high school, don’t panic. These classes don’t have to be hard. In fact, they should be fun.

 

I had a great time taking a ballroom dance class at the local junior college and took an oil painting class at a community center near my house. While I loved learning about painting, my favorite part was talking to the other students in the class. We had a lot in common because we lived in the same area and liked to paint, and I ended up learning something new and making friends at the same time.

 

Think of something you’re interested in (and would like to know more about) and find a class near you. Maybe you’re interested in cooking or scrapbook making. Maybe you’re interested in taking a philosophy course, gardening, or vinyasa yoga. Make a list of classes you’d like to take and do a quick internet search in your area. You’ll probably be surprised at how much you find!

 

 

Volunteer!

Volunteering is a great way to branch out because, not only is it a great way to meet new people and help others, but it might also help you try something new and put you out of your comfort zone. (Not sure where to start? You can do these 6 fun volunteer ideas anywhere.)

 

Recently I signed up to help plant trees and had such a great time. I’m not usually one to garden—I don’t have a backyard and am used to living in a suburban area, so I don’t often find myself out with nature. But it was so fun to be outside with my hands in the soil. Not only did I get to feel good for helping out with a great cause, but I got to try something new and learn that I really do enjoy being out in nature. Maybe one day I’ll even find myself moving into a house with a yard and tending my own garden.

 

 

This article originally appeared in VINAZINE, from the free social discovery app for women, Hey! VINA!

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