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The older I get the harder it seems to experience something novel. At 38 I feel as though I've eaten most of the low lying fruit. I have some ideas such as skydiving, or bungee, or taking a sabbatical and going travelling. I want good stories to tell the grandchildren when they arrive.

But I have several hurdles that seem to stop me doing these things:

  1. I talk myself out of them because they're out of my comfort zone.
  2. I need to earn a living, so taking large amounts of time out seems impossible.
  3. I have too many ideas and can't seem to settle on anything specific.
  4. I'm not naturally a risk taker.

What can I do?

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I talk myself out of them because they're out of my comfort zone.

You could sort the things that are outside your comfort zone by how risky they are, then it would be easy to do the least riskiest thing and add it to your comfort zone. Repeating it over and over to add things to your comfort zone. When something is not comfortable just learning about it can let you feel more safe; like how to skydive, how the security mechanism works and at what height to pull the parachute.

I need to earn a living, so taking large amounts of time out seems impossible.

Yes, life consists of sharing between choises. You either go to work and gain money, or you go travelling and see the world. Each choice comes with their own (dis)advantages, it's up to you too choose which one. Of course, such a decision like "I go travel the world" is not easy to make.

Don't do it if you don't have the money for it, unless you can find a way to earn money while traveling. Working in different cities could be an option.

I have too many ideas and can't seem to settle on anything specific.

That's because you want to do something new. The method I describe in the first paragraph allows you to do the least riskiest one, as you are afraid of doing the more risky ideas that might be a good approach into choosing what you want to do. And sometimes you just have to roll the dice and let destiny decide...

I'm not naturally a risk taker.

Although there are risky thing like climbing high mountains, you might be overestimating some risks. Note how it is statistically more safe to take the airplane than driving by car, while a lot of people that never take the airplane are afraid to do so. With bungee jumping, the cord is calculated to not break even under extreme conditions like wind / rain / heavier weight and so on...

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I agree. Indecision is a bad decision. Pick one thing and do it. You will survive doing one thing from your list. Do it this weekend. Then choose something else for next weekend. Practice makes perfect and you're just out of practice. – bg2011 Oct 12 '11 at 14:18
  1. You should break you comfort zone, if you wanna try something new. You lived in your comfort zone until 38 years old, and you did you get stories to tell the grandchildren? NO. It's not too late my friend. Could be difficult but when you do it with excitement, you get more fun to doing them.
  2. Yes it looks difficult. Our choices changes our life. But always there is a way to doing hard working and traveling. You must allocate time for both. There are a lot of people when they hardworking and also doing traveling, bungee jumping, canoe.. There are some people around you like that. Try to get their idea how they allocate time for them. And like Tom said: Don't do it if you don't have the money for it
  3. I agree with all Tom's says.
  4. Our lives are full of risks. How can we done something without taking any risk? Taking risks could be bad or good for us. We can't know that without living their risks. Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.

Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first.

~Frederick B. Wilcox

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Its great you have lots of ideas but can't choose which one. That means you can talk to your friends and agree on something.

You could look for a local group or team that will have regular activities that will get you out of the house.

I'm a big believer in taking long holidays. You can start organising this today:

  • Talk to your boss to see if you can take 3m off or whatever.
  • Tell your friends you are going and ask for suggestions or if anyone else wants to come
  • Book a flight

Booking a flight is very easy and once you've done this its hard to go back!

Good luck.

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Step one - don't talk yourself out of them! This is your only problem here:

As long as you stay in your comfort zone, you won't get those experiences which are novel.

You can easily try those things which are low risk but feel like high risk, such as bungee jumping. In countries such as the UK, the regulations require some nice safety features you don't necessarily get in other countries (such as full climbing harness) which don't impact the adrenaline rush.

Skydiving, as well, is a day out - and done in tandem is extremely safe - might get you wanting to then train to do it solo.

Taking a sabbatical is a bigger step, as you need to plan and budget, but these days many employers are encouraging sabbaticals, as it allows them to save money during a recession.

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Are you actually capturing those stories now? Have you written the stories for things you have already done? If you haven't you may want to try for several reasons:

  • You may discover that retelling the story is actually quite difficult and it will reignite your interest in redoing the experience again with emphasis on 'higher fidelity'. Re-Do a flying fox but with a video camera, take an old trip and write it up as a story, etc.
  • Trying to write/capture/represent the experiences will make you try the new tools, learn new techniques. Then, you will discover those expanded abilities will open new experiences for you. For example, trying to take good pictures of your next trip will lead you to learn more about photography, this will make you - trust me - to buy better gear, and that will make you want to take that gear into a situation that was not particularly exciting to you before.
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Here is an interesting post on the issue I found recently:

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Your link doesn't appear to load here, could you outline a summary in your post? – Tom Wijsman Oct 23 '11 at 12:31

And that's the real secret of youth, not had many negative or penalizing experiences that discourage us from taking risks.

So as an older man, (I'm 49 so I know what it feel's like lol), you need to find other ways to encourage yourself to take chances.

Perhaps find other friends to do similar thing's with, do it as a group, so that each of you has support.

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Find a job on another continent. Quit your job and move there. Earn money and "travel" at the same time. The culture shock and experiences will give you plenty of tales to tell (but stay out of the ex-pat ghetto).

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I used to struggle with the same desires for adventure, novelty and risk-taking. (Who am I kidding? I still an extent.)

One of the traps we tend to fall into is the myth that everyone is living a far more interesting and exciting life than we are. Because of that, we tend to take for granted the amazing things we accomplish each and every day. The reason is simply because we have achieved that level of mastery of the seemingly-to-us-mundane without taking into account the perception of the people closest to us.

The fact is we will never feel like we have enough time to do all of the things we want. So, start small. I watched a video from a TED conference a couple months ago which challenged everyone to try something new for 30 days. Matt Cutts nailed a lot of points I have struggled with for most of my adult life. I made a seemingly small change to my diet for 30 days and lost 14 pounds without exercising. (Just to put things in perspective, I weigh about 265# with a 40-inch waist.) Simple, small changes in behavior, attitude and outlook can move mountains. When it comes right down to it, we all can spare 30 days for something which has the potential to change our existence.

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