Another year is coming to a close and it is a great time to look ahead to new learning experiences for 2012. Here are 13 ways to add fun and adventure to your New Year:
1. Learn how to use your gadgets. Spend some time getting to know your tablet, e-reader, smartphone or digital camera and learn more about all the things they can do for you. You will feel empowered when you no longer have to ask your spouse or teen to program your new toys. Watch out tech world, here you come!
2. Familiarize yourself with the proper way to use social media. Don't be afraid to reach out to savvy friends or potential mentors who are actively involved on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. Make it a point to follow tweets, posts and blogs you enjoy and use their success as an example. Interact with them and join in the fun.
3. Learn how to change a tire, check your oil and program your navigation system. All of these "basic skills" will help you get to where you are going in a safe and timely manner. You never know when you will run over a nail or need to make a detour.
4. Plan a new adventure for yourself and your family. Whether you choose to explore new sites in your own city or take a road trip to another state or jump on a plane and fly to another country, visiting unfamiliar sites and eating regional foods will broaden your horizons and introduce you to new experiences.
5. Take a CPR class. If it’s been a while since you’ve saved a life, brush up the Heimlich maneuver before it’s necessary to use it. A CPR certification card is a great accessory for any wallet. Don’t delay.
6. Know how to hail a cab in the big city. Here's a tip: Look at the lights on top of the cab. The cab is available when the middle light is lit. If all lights are on, the cab is off duty. The cab already has passengers if none of the lights are on or you see a few heads in the back seat. Keep your walking shoes handy just in case.
7. Learn where to stand in an elevator. This is especially important if you'll be spending time in any skyscrapers in 2012. Hint: If you’re going to one of the top floors, move to the back; if you’re only going up a few floors, stay near the front. Don’t attempt to make long-winded conversation with a fellow passenger when they are trying to exit the door.
8. Learn how to order wine. Do a little homework on the basics of wine. Experiment with different varietals and styles, but remember, the right wine is the one you enjoy drinking and that fits into your budget.
9. Learn how to eat sushi. Do this especially if you've tried it and like it, but are not quite sure the right way to order it and eat it. Keep working at it until you are no longer intimidated by the menu.
10. Learn a new game. Maybe this is the year you finally learn how to play chess or poker. Or you could just pick up an entertaining board game and master it with friends.
11. Read something new and review something old. Ask friends for recommendations for books that you might like or browse a bookstore or website for ideas. Many magazines and newspapers have book reviews—look until you find something that appeals to you. Tackle a classic and don’t feel bad if you have to refer to the CliffsNotes from time to time.
12. Try out a new exercise program. If you're a die-hard runner, try something different, like yoga, cycling or Body Pump class. Whatever your favorite workout, branch out with a new class or new activity—especially if your regular routine is sitting on the couch.
13. Learn how to cook a meal that would impress your guests. Note: it doesn't have to be expensive or fancy, just delicious. If you don't cook, start with the basics so you can prepare a meal for yourself and others. If you already know how to cook, expand your repertoire with a cooking class or by exploring a new cuisine. You will gain new skills and meet new people.
What else is on your list for 2012? Whatever you do, may it be an enriching, rewarding and fun year. Enjoy!
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.