If you’re a hermit and the thought of socializing with even like-minded people frightens you, there are less stressful ways to begin learning new skills. Check for online courses in your area of interest. You could start with something as simple as throwing a wild card into your reading habits. If you always read fiction, try a biography of someone you admire. If you’re a non-fiction person, check out a great novel. (Ask your librarian for ideas.) 

You can even teach yourself new tricks. I decided to enter a cooking contest this summer and in the process taught myself to make tortillas from scratch. Did I win? Nope, didn’t even make the finals. Did I have a blast, learn a new skill, create a delicious new recipe, and make new friends along the way? Why yes, I did. 

The point is, you don’t have to completely change your life. Just try something new once in a while. You might set a goal of learning something new once a month, just to keep your brain from going dormant. You never know what may happen when you open yourself up to learning new things. You may find a new passion, maybe even a new career. Adam Steltzner did. 

Adam was a below-average student whose own father told him he’d never amount to anything. After finally graduating from high school he played bass in local bands, hoping to end up as a rock star. Until one night Adam looked up at the sky and got curious about a different kind of star. How was it the constellation Orion could be in a different place in the sky on the way home from his gig than it had been on the way there? That curiosity led him sign up for a physics class at a junior college. That class led to another and another and eventually to a doctoral degree in engineering physics and a job as team leader at NASA for the recently-landed Mars Curiosity.

Climb out of that rut. Learn something new. Take the road less traveled and see where it takes you. When you get there, send me a postcard!

Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends. She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life. Read Susan's blog at TastingGod.wordpress.com.

Publication date: September 6, 2012