Just try it! Image courtesy of Natalie Morawietz.

Are you someone who reads posts with titles like, “10 Things to Start Doing for Yourself” and “10 Ways to Achieve Happiness?” Are you the person whose ears perk up when somebody talks about foreign countries and travels? Are you generally happy with your life, but could do with some more excitement? Do you feel that life is too short to be stuck in a daily routine?

Then you might want to consider the following “hands-on” ideas:

1. Go out on your own.

It might sound boring at first glance. Why would you want to go out on your own? I admit this might not be everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve primarily taken this advice when on business trips in foreign cities, but also a few times in my hometown. The evening might not always end up being exciting, but there were quite a few times I met new people, engaged in interesting conversations, and just had fun. Going out on your own is definitely good “training” to get you out of your comfort zone and handling an unknown situation, like sitting alone at a bar. What’s the worst that could happen? You have a drink or two, and maybe a few people think it’s unusual that you are out by yourself, that you don’t have any friends, or that you are just up for a one-night-stand. On the plus side, you’ll learn that you shouldn’t give two cents about other people’s thoughts and judgments (at least not strangers who don’t know you), and you will realize that you are in total control of the situation.

2. Change your thinking habits.

When we get older, our daily lives and our thoughts can go in similar directions: the routine. For the most part, I guess this is a good thing: We have learned and know what we like and what we don’t. But sometimes it might be worth changing your thoughts and judgments about certain situations. Let’s say your boss asks the team for a volunteer to give a speech at a conference.

Image courtesy of Natalie Morawietz.
Image courtesy of Natalie Morawietz.

Your first thought: Definitely not me! It would require extra work, and you hate speaking in front of so many people. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, and raise your hand! I know you will hate yourself several times for doing it, but finally overcoming that challenge will be so rewarding, and you will be proud of yourself. Gaining confidence and being more adventurous is hard and painful, but the adrenalin and power you receive is worth it!

3. Travel alone.

Think about going on a trip by yourself. Again, there might be situations in which you feel uncomfortable, but for the most part you will see things differently and have experiences you never imagined. When I traveled on my own, I met more people than I would have if I had been in a group, and for one simple reason: I didn’t want to be alone all the time.  I am a social person, but still it always takes some guts to talk to strangers. The bright side is that you immediately have something in common with the strangers you meet: traveling to the same place.

Traveling alone as a female also meant that I interacted more with local people. It seems that people want to take care of you more as a solo female traveler. I had countless invitations for coffee, tea, and snacks. It goes without saying that there are certain limitations out there, especially as a woman. But that doesn’t mean traveling alone can’t be a very rewarding experience!

Image courtesy of Natalie Morawietz.
Image courtesy of Natalie Morawietz.

4. Remember: It never gets easy!

Let me tell you that – at least in my experience – it never gets easy. Just because you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone once doesn’t mean that you’ll possess that superpower for the rest of your life.  I have traveled on my own in West Africa, I have driven overland trucks between Cairo and Capetown and between Quito and Rio de Janeiro, I have jumped out of planes, and I did ice climbing in Alaska (which, by the way, I never thought I would enjoy, but I loved it). But I am still nervous when I get in my truck and have to drive in Nairobi traffic after I haven’t been there for almost two years. I am still nervous when I am climbing down into a moulin on a glacier in Alaska. But without feeling the pain in life, you don’t appreciate the happy moments in life. And the pain sometimes turns into something you thoroughly enjoy!

Read more about my travels on my Alaska adventure blog.