This year their dad and I agreed to do something a little different with their activities. We agreed to let them pick (on their own) three things they wanted to do, and encouraged them to try things they haven’t tried before. Extracurricular activities can be intense nowadays—and by intense I mean a significant commitment of time, money and energy. You want to make sure that your kids are fully vested in that activity. Sometimes it will be an activity that you know and love—and they will enjoy doing something that they’ve admired you doing for years. Sometimes their talent and passion will be in something you’re not familiar with at all—and you will have fun getting to know a new sport or art.
In the past few months, I’ve taken or will to take my girls to watch sports that I wasn’t involved in growing up – tennis, swimming, theater class, ice skating and more. I also researched other activities that I thought they would like to try, such as track and field. I really tried to think out of the box. At the end of the day, I want them to experiment and try new things. I don’t want to limit them to what I know.
All of this is also relevant at work. I’ve spent years in the same role, and yet have had the opportunity to experiment and try new things. It’s exciting, challenging and rewarding. I got to learn about fundraising and fundraising events. I got to learn about forming non-profits. I got to learn about rolling out a variety of programs. There are so many new and interesting things I had the chance to try. Some attempts ended up in success, others ended up not that successful, but in either case, my team and I grew through each opportunity.
Here are some additional benefits of trying new things for you and your kids:
- You show your kids and your teams that it’s okay to not know everything
- You stretch and exercise your brain in new ways
- You could discover an unknown or hidden talent or passion
- You could realize an unusual solution or process that could apply in another area of your life, creating an out-of-the-box solution
- You could build your network with new contacts
Need ideas on how you can seek out new experiences? Here are some suggestions:
For new experiences for your family:
- Read your local paper for festivals and events
- Look through your local park district catalog
- Ask your co-workers about their hobbies
- Read books and page through magazines
- Ask everyone (including your extended family) what their “dream job” would be (unfortunately many people don’t go after their dreams) and then try a class in that field
- Tell your kids to ask friends at school about the activities they participate in
- Watch the winter and summer olympics
For new experiences for your career:
- Read your company intranet and newsletter for projects that look interesting—then reach out and see if you can help
- Think about qualities and skills that leaders you admire have, then seek out experiences to build those (consider reaching out to that leader!)
- Volunteer for a non-profit community organization
- Ask your co-workers about interesting projects they are working on
- Seek out co-workers that you don’t know very well—get to know them and what they do
- Join professional networking organizations and ask people you meet what they do
- Read professional journals and books for your industry
Seek out new opportunities for you and your family—and learn more about each other and yourself while growing and stretching yourself.
Have fun stepping outside of your comfort zone!