by Bob Howard-Spink
If you are pondering over life and wondering what big changes you should make, gives some thought first to developing a new skill in your spare time.
It will always be good fun but more than that it can also change your attitudes, behaviours, capabilities, and your life ... more than you would expect.
This is the first and probably most obvious reason why. You began something years ago and for some reason or other you had to shelve it.
Maybe it was lack of time? Maybe you gave up because you were not happy with your progress? Perhaps you didn't get the kind of encouragement you were hoping for.
Whichever explanation applies this memory will be lurking in your sub-conscious as some kind of failure and disappointment. As such it could distort and grow out of all proportion so go back and give it another chance.
Satisfying Acquired Needs
You will have changed over the years, and very likely have acquired new interests and needs. These urges may surprise you and seem out of character, but ignoring them because you don't do new things or have spare time interests will only leave the urge nagging away in a negative manner.
It is possible you have not understood this need. It may even manifest itself as "something that's missing" in your job or relationship.
Thinking about it carefully, and pursuing a well matched other interest in your spare time makes such good sense. Hugely preferable to making un-required and disruptive career changes or upsetting relationship changes!
New Mental Drive
Some of us know we are "driven." We feel a strong sense of purpose which typically gets fed into our career ambitions. However that particular opportunity will decline. That is when we need to occupy ourselves with a new purpose, like pursuing a new skill or even a second career.
Others of us may not feel driven but we still need purpose. We all grew our full-sized brain with new cells and larger regions because of the need to survive. The absence of a strong purpose will allow the brain to shut down the unused parts and lose its drive.
Learning to Take Risks
From childhood we are taught to stay within our safety and comfort zone - "Don't do that you will fall" Do you remember? So we learn to avoid risks and stay safe. Unfortunately this then becomes one of your default behaviours.
You cannot simply delete an unwanted behaviour. You have to learn the preferred alternative by experiencing it, until it becomes a habit and takes over as the new default behaviour.
Mastering a new skill that has an element of challenge is not only great fun in itself but the experience will also change your behaviour, preparing you for bigger challenges you maybe want to tackle.
At school we are encouraged to follow our natural aptitudes and so we end up favouring our dominant left or right brain hemisphere. We allow the unvisited part to hibernate.
Learning to do unfamiliar things will reboot the unused parts of the brain, will grow new brain cells, and will open up new pathways.
If those new skills involve physical co-ordination, then evidence shows this learning will also improve synaptic plasticity which promotes a healthy cognitive system. The result is smarter, sharper thinking.
Learning something new re-opens the doors in your mind. It prompts you to be open-minded, receptive, and imaginative.
On top of this if you are also learning something challenging, and you are also working on your diversified thinking then the total effect is going to be a huge boost in creativity.
Once you have discovered this new creativity the instinct and urge will be there to use it - to question circumstances, challenge old attitudes, to become more inventive and resourceful.
Self-Belief and Persistence
As you learn new skills, even relatively simple and everyday things like car repairs or home DIY, you get into the habit of solving problems. You acquire a mindset where you expect to resolve things.
Whereas you once might have avoided unfamiliar challenges or quit early on them, now you know it pays to persist. Persistence becomes a new behaviour.
Each time you tackle something new, master it and taste success you like yourself that bit more. As you master more things and add to your list of "things I can now do I never thought I would" you like yourself even more. High self-esteem is arguably the most empowering quality for achieving your aims in life.
Occasionally you come across people who excel in their chosen field, and also boast a second strength. Like the motivational speaker who is also a martial artist, or the entrepreneur who pilots hot air balloons.
You remember these people because of their dual capability, which somehow added to their interest and their credibility.
Adding another string to your bow will increase your personal credibility in your chosen field, whatever you decide that is?
Author Bob Howard-Spink had by his own admission been shifting careers for 40 years before realising what a life refreshing and enriching experience change is.
He also admits that like many people he had viewed mid-life career change as one of those "crisis" things that people do until discovering what huge benefits it brings.
All of which inspired him to launch onwego.co.uk through which he now encourages, advises, and generally eggs on would be mid-life changers as well as connecting them with sources of help.
The help ranges across career change, making the best of your free time, and personal fitness, all offered to help visitors make the rest of their life the best of their life!
For more information visit http://www.onwego.co.uk
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