Do something new today
Everyone remembers their first time. I vividly remember the day first time I travelled abroad independently. The first time I passed a test with flying colours. My first job. The first friend I made. First kiss. First love. First heartbreak. The first time I failed a test. The first time I won a race, played in a recital, drove a car. First pregnancy, first child, first steps, first word, her first day of school.
First experiences offer a sense of enjoyment, a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth and often, broaden the horizon. I love watching people do something for the first time. Even the smallest, most insignificant experience becomes a larger than life moment. We give our full attention, we savour the moment, we enjoy it and learn from it.
I think we’d all fill our lives with first experiences if it wasn’t for one thing – decision fatigue. Doing something new requires a lot of thought and effort. It involves making many new decisions and making decision after decision is not only exhausting, but our decision making ability deteriorate. We start making mistakes and soon that new experience turns into a bad experience.
We retreat to our safety zone, our daily living space where we don’t have to think about what we do, where life is effortless and easy. We do the same things every day. We shop the same way, cook the same way, see the same people, return to familiar places. We book our holidays at the same place, we buy the things we always buy and life goes on as a series of beige days we have difficulty recalling.
Our daughter was diagnosed with a second life-long condition in August 2016. Type 1 Diabetes. We adapted quickly – it wasn’t a first time thing as we all have serious long-term conditions – but it was unexpected. We’d assumed that as we each already had a serious condition, we were done with learning how to live with new health issues, but Type 1 Diabetes was certainly a new experience. Learning how to carb count, inject insulin, insert CGM sensors and insulin pump cannulas and make a million small decisions daily. It’s been a year of many new first experiences, but the most startling realization emerged. Despite learning so many new things, we were stuck in an endless loop of daily decision making.
We needed a new kind of first experience. First experiences may be highly memorable, but not all add meaning, purpose or direction to life. We wanted more of those kinds and less of the other, unpleasant kind. I wanted more time to read a new book, Chris wanted a proper home office and Cass wanted to visit London.
I’ve read three new books in the last month. Chris got his office set-up and Cass has seen Big Ben, a play in The Globe and gone round and round in The London Eye. It wasn’t easy finding the time, tools and resources to succeed, but we managed it.
Life can be better than beige. I’m sure of it. I think doing something (meaningful) new, is just the beginning to a whole new way of life. One we’re adamant to embrace.