Learning to do something new is a great way to stay active and engaged in your community, as well as meet other people who share your new interest. If acquiring an additional skill is one of your goals for the new year, here are four paths of discovery to consider.
Speak a New Language
Whether you're planning an overseas trip, or you'd just like to communicate better with a new neighbor or family member who speaks a different language, your first step to becoming multilingual is a click away. A host of online programs offer courses in dozens of languages. Three popular ones are Babbel, Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, which turns its lessons into games.
And speaking of making language learning fun, an article by John-Erik Joran in Babbel's online magazine lists several outside-the-box study tips from Matthew Youlden, who is fluent in nine languages. Tip #3 is “Talk to yourself." Youlden says it helps you practice and get more confident. Tip #6 is “Act like a child," with Youlden recommending that language students adopt a childlike “lack of self-consciousness, a desire to play in the language and willingness to make mistakes."
Start a New Fitness Routine
Tired of your same old workout: swimming laps, speed walking in the park, hitting the step machine in front of the TV? It's a brand new year, so it's time to shake it up, baby!
How about a travel-inspired workout? The Muse presents several options, including Indian dance, Tai Chi, yoga, classic aerobics and Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing that originated in Thailand.
To get more ideas for adding or substituting a new fitness regimen, try Googling “spice up exercise routine." You'll come up with thousands of results.
Cook a New Cuisine
If you love Thai, Cajun or Moroccan food but you've never tried making it yourself, maybe this should be the year you finally learn how. Take a cooking class, watch some TV chefs or test a few recipes from cookbooks and websites like Epicurious, Food Network and Delish. You can also find sites dedicated to single cuisines.
You'll be able to impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary skills, not to mention saving some of the money you spend on dining out. Learning to cook a new cuisine can also provide a chance to recreate a favorite travel memory or rediscover a part of your own ethnic food heritage.
Take Up a New Hobby
If you've always wanted to try watercolor painting, gardening, fly fishing or blogging, resolve this year to give it a go. Join a club, take a class, watch a YouTube how-to video-- or just grab some supplies and your own creative ideas and dig in.
At HobbyLark.com you'll find scores of suggestions for choosing the hobby that best suits your interests and personality type. For instance, learning to draw or paint and learning how to play an instrument are listed under “Hobbies that Sharpen the Mind." There's a long list of “Hobbies for Physically Active Adventure-Seekers." Maybe this will be the year you take up salsa dancing or join a hiking group at a local park.
Besides shaking up your routine, the rewards of learning a new skill or finding a new passion include keeping your mind sharp and helping you become a more engaged and interesting person. It's one more step to ensure that you do something to enrich your own life as you continue to care for elderly friends or family members.
Read more: Finding Your Inner Artist as You Get Older
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