3 Questions to Get You Started Exploring New Territory
by WITHIN Cofounder Hannah Knapp
No matter where you are, but especially living in the SF Bay Area, all of us have lots of things we're interested in, and not enough time to explore them all. As much as we might theoretically want to start up a new thing, we often don't get beyond the first step before our existing obligations push the idea of something new out of the picture.
But that doesn't mean we're satisfied with how we're spending our time - it just means we're letting other people decide how we spend it. If you're feeling the itch to try something new, how can you find the time to explore in a new direction? It can help to get clear on what you like about what you're doing now, what you don't, and what you're looking for. Try asking yourself these three questions, and see where you land.
Question #1: What do I love about the communities I'm already a part of?
As much as you may be wishing for more than your current circles are offering, there's a reason you became a part of them in the first place. What do you love about the communities you spend time with now? Maybe they meet in a place that's super convenient, or they offer you experiences you wouldn't otherwise get. Maybe they feed a particular part of you that you want to keep feeding. Take a moment to get real with yourself about what you appreciate about these people and the ways you support each other.
Question #2: What am I excited or curious about, that my current communities aren't?
You know that feeling - you're super excited about something new, and start talking about it with one of your friends; you're sure they're going to share your excitement. But instead, they stare back at you like you just said the sky was green. Your stomach sinks, your cheeks feel hot, and you change the subject as quickly as possible to safer ground - or start an argument, depending on your personality. Or maybe you are so sure no one will understand, that you don't even talk about with your friends about what you're excited to explore - you've gone underground.
While it makes total sense to protect yourself from being uncomfortable in conversation with your friends, you're also missing out on great new experiences by playing it safe. Having a supportive community of people who are curious about the same thing helps create a safe space for that exploration. Take a moment to write down what you would dive deeper into, if you had people around you who got it, too.
Question #3: How badly do I want to explore this new direction?
There's inertia in staying with the groups of friends and organizations that you already spend your time with. It's going to take some effort to overcome that inertia, and explore in a new direction.
Look at the list you just made, and ask yourself, Would I be willing to spend less time with the groups I'm in now, to spend more time exploring new territory? If the answer is No, then don't bother investing your time in something new; you'll just drop it when your schedule gets full with events and activities from all those groups you already care about.
But if the answer is Yes, then do three things right now:
Decide which groups of friends or organizations you're going to take off of your "yes" list. This doesn't mean you never speak to any of them again, but it does mean you're not going to prioritize time with them over your new adventures.
Decide which new direction you want to explore first. You may have written down several things that are exciting to you; pick just one to begin, and let the others wait.
Begin your search for a place to explore that new direction with people who are already into it. It could be as simple as Googling what you decided in #2, or sending a message to a friend of a friend you met once who's active in the territory you're planning to explore. Educate yourself on what's out there and look specifically for places where you can grow with guidance and support.
At WITHIN, we get a lot of "meditation-curious" people who drop in for a class with us. We love giving them their first taste of mindfulness meditation, and offering some guidance about how to continue exploring it. Over time, it's the people who decide to make WITHIN one of their communities whose meditation practices really take off.
When you come to class regularly, you get support and encouragement from your teachers, and from other students who are making a similar commitment. That sense of community makes it easier to keep prioritizing coming back to class, and practicing on your own, not only because you've got some great accountability partners, but also because you get a chance to hear how other people are navigating the same territory. Being surrounded by other students, guided by teachers, it's easy to be inspired to keep going deeper.
But don't take our word for it. Come see for yourself. We'd love to help you make the WITHIN community, your community.
What communities have helped you explore new territory, and how did you find them? Tell us in the comments below!