Experiencing life

One of the biggest blocks I had on my path to becoming self-actualized  was that I never really experienced life.  What I mean by this is that I never lived the dreams.  Ever since I was 8 years old, I’ve always wanted to become rich by building a business.  I did have a little bit of experience in this, but not enough to count.  For instance, one day, I had a lemonade stand.  It was only open for three hours or so, and I don’t remember making any money.  Because of that, I never stuck with it, and I never truly got the experience of creating a business.  Can you imagine a new business owner only being open for three hours, then shutting the doors, saying that since they’re not earning a profit, they’re going out of business?  I had one more experience of business as a kid:  I sold candy door-to-door.  I lasted a whole day that time, but gave up because I didn’t want to sell in the Arizona heat.

While this shows an example through my desire to be a business owner, it can be applied to many aspects of life.  When I first entered college, I immediately chose to get my associates in business degree.  I thought that I would go on to build my own businesses, after learning all about general business practices.  Well, that’s not really how life works.  I originally planned on getting a marketing degree, since ‘marketing is the most important part of running a business’.  So my last semester at the community college, I took a marketing class as an elective.  I hated it!  My teacher was great, but my left-oriented brain couldn’t stand analyzing pretend business markets, or trying to determine ideal color schemes for different types of businesses based upon how color affects demand (such as fast food places use red because it increases hunger).  Thank god I ended up taking that class /experiencing life/ or else I couldn’t have graduated on time, because I would have ended up switching majors.

Where else can you focus on creating valuable life experiences?  This is a highly individualized question, but a good place to start is to determine something that you fear, but really want.  A good place to find one of these things is to look at someone you idol.  Maybe it’s Kelly Clarkson 🙂  Once you have an idol in mind, figure out one thing that they do relating to why you idolize them.  Then, take that trait and practice it.  This is a great way to develop yourself, whether it’s singing in front of people, or just smiling more.  However, what I want you to emphasize the most when you do this exercise is the experience.  I want you to FEEL how your actions affect yourself.

Experiencing life isn’t all work and no play.  Something I want to do is go skydiving.  Jumping out of a plane scares me pantless, but I can’t wait to do it, because I want the experience.

One of the most enjoyable things I have done recently is join Toastmasters International, an organization devoted to helping individuals develop public speaking skills.  Initially, I just wanted to learn how to speak publicly, but I found out that I really love to speak.  I love everything about it: the initial nervousness, the development of something worth speaking about, the excitement of expressing that message, and the catharsis from conquering a fear.  Every time I speak, I challenge myself, which allows me to sustain a steady level of improvement, and become more confident in myself.

Not all life experiences have to be fears.  Try eating at a restaurant that sounds interesting to you, but you’ve never tried.  Join a local club that you may not have joined normally.  Travel somewhere that you’ve never gone before (this is esp. insightful if it’s a different country).  The goal of this article is to expose you to new and interesting stuff.  Who knows, you just might like it 🙂

What sort of new and interesting things have you experienced recently?  Let me know in the comments below.

– Neal

1 Comment

  1. Scott Hall

    I joined Toastmasters for the same reason. It’s amazing what I formerly found difficult is now second nature. Public speaking is like learning to drive. After while you’re not overthinking and nervous about it. True, there are times, like competitions in which the butterflies start flying, but I have the confidence to manage it. I think there are 2 types of nervous speakers. Those that avoid public speaking at all costs and those that do something about it like joining Toastmasters. I have friends that have fear of public speaking but would avoid it rather than join Toastmasters. Imagine all that energy it takes to avoid public speaking.

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