Trying Times Are For Trying New Things

As deeply cheesy as it sounds, less-than-great times are actually the best times to try new things because you quite literally have nothing to lose. If all those Tinder dates suck, we’re not risking anything by going out on a blind date with a co-worker’s nephew. Nothing hangs in the balance! HOW INCREDIBLY FREEING. >>

How many times have you seen that Einstein quote? You know the one: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And you think “Coooool. Coolcoolcool.” …. and then go back to what you were doing. Which is, coincidentally, the same thing over and over again.

No? Just me?

I mean, I hope it’s not just me. Because that would make for a pretty awkward blog post.

Most of us are creatures of habit and when we find something that works, we keep doing it. But then circumstances change – we get a new boss, a different roommate, our income drops, our metabolism shifts – and our behavior doesn’t.

Before we know it, we’re in a Trying Situation. We’re earning 40k and spending like we’re earning 70k. We’ve been on 30 horrible Tinder dates and we’re burnt out on dating. We’ve inadvertently gained 20 pounds because we don’t walk to work anymore.

As deeply cheesy as it sounds, less-than-great times are the best times to try new things because we literally have nothing to lose. If all those Tinder dates suck, we’re not risking anything by going on a blind date with a coworker’s nephew. Nothing hangs in the balance! HOW INCREDIBLY FREEING.

What’s the worst that could happen? Things will continue to suck in the manner which they currently do? We’ll try a new thing and it won’t be awesome … in much the same way that things presently aren’t awesome? Who cares! Whatever!

What if we reframed our trying situations as opportunities for trying new things? What if we made the extremely optimistic decision to think “What luck! I have nothing to lose! I can take this leap!”

If you’re trying online dating and it’s not working, what if you tried…

  • Emailing friends and family, asking if they know anybody they could set you up with. I think the key to doing this successfully is contacting people individually. People are more likely to set you up if they don’t feel like they’ve been tucked into the bcc field as an afterthought. I know a woman who met her husband this way!
  • Expanding your online dating criteria. What if you were open to dating someone the same height as you – or shorter, even? Have you tried dating someone younger than you? Somebody who’s divorced?
  • Hanging out with a bunch of strangers. Yes, really! Go to the party where you only know the birthday girl. Join a Meetup group. Go to the climbing gym by yourself and ask a cutie to be your belayer. Take a community ed class that will appeal to people you might want to date (aka if you’re a straight woman, you probably won’t find your future husband at a scrapbooking class.)

If you’re trying to stick to a budget and it’s not working, what if you tried…

  • Setting up an autotransfer from your checking account to your savings account. Chances are, you’ll completely forget about that money and just spend what’s in your checking account.
  • Cutting up your credit cards (or hand them off to a verrrrrry trusted person) and put yourself on a cash-only budget. You’ll spend a lot less when you see exactly where it’s going and how much you have left.
  • Putting yourself in fewer money-spending situations. When your friend wants to catch up, invite her over for dinner instead of meeting her at a spendy restaurant. Block yourself from your favorite online retailers. Instead of window shopping, go hiking, go to the library, or cobble together a picnic with what’s in your pantry.

If you’re trying to be more active and it’s not working, what if you tried…

  • Three new workouts. There’s a workout for everyone! Maybe the workout you’ve been doing just isn’t right for you. Commit to trying three totally different activities and see if one works for you. Zumba! Trapeze class! Hiking!
  • Stop driving to work. Unless your home and office are right next to a bus stop, taking public transport will add walking and activity to your day. If public transport isn’t your thing, can you bike to work? Walk?
  • Finding a gym accountability buddy. You’ll be too embarrassed to let them down and not show up!

If you and your partner are going through a rough patch, what if you tried…

  • Giving up complaining and nagging for a week. Even if you think your complaints are 100% valid, your partner probably doesn’t enjoy hearing them all day, every day. Give the negativity a rest for seven days and see what happens!
  • Bringing in an expert; there’s no shame in getting outside help. If you attend church, you pastor might be able to help; some health insurance plans cover therapy. has a great tool to help you find therapists in your area.
  • Giving each other some space. You know how your friend in Denver is always asking you to visit? Do it! Take a long weekend, hang out with your friends, stop obsessing over your partner’s quirks, and see if you can approach your relationship with a fresh perspective after a bit of time away.

If you really, really hate your job, what if you tried…

  • Changing your schedule. Would your boss let you work 7-4 instead of 8-5? Could you work from home one day a week? Could you work four 10-hour days?
  • Switching up your physical workspace. Move your desk closer to the window. Move to a cubicle that’s further from your loud coworker. Ask if you can take over that long-abandoned desk on the second floor.
  • Swapping out a few job duties. Is there anything you really hate doing that’s swappable? Maybe you hate planning student field trips and your colleague hates putting up bulletin boards; maybe you don’t like making PowerPoint presentations and your coworker struggles to write reports. Could you swap tasks?If we’re willing to lean back and squint a bit, there's a lot of freedom in the rough patches. Share on X They give us space to grow and opportunities to try new things that just might get us where we want to go. Even if we’re on a totally different path that what we’d imagined.

I want to hear from you! How do you deal with things get rough and trying? What new things have you tried when The Usual Approach wasn’t working?

P.S. The oddly obvious thing I always forget + The important difference between ‘want to’ and ‘have to’

Photo by Samuel Scrimshaw on Unsplash

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  1. Cristin

    As usual, I feel like you’re reading my mind, Sarah!

  2. K.

    Every time I come to your blog, it is EXACTLY what I need to hear that day. Thank you! <3

  3. Rita Roxanne

    This is very ironically timed. I have made small changes each week and it is really paying off. Previously, i would commit on Sunday to change my entire life… starting MONDAY! I would always fail on Tuesday… who am I kidding, MONDAY! Thank you for reminding me that i am not alone!

  4. E.Green

    I’ve made changes this week I don’t sweat the crazy stuff. Things are going to happen always that’s out of your control deal with it and move on..I’m a much happier person by me not reacting to stuff, that’s what I call it….

  5. Xandra

    When things aren’t going right, I start by changing into my tutu, which usually helps immensely.

  6. lauranne

    I love the finance tips, as at the moment I seem to have lost all ability to stick to a budget, so I think cash only may be the way forwards

  7. Faith

    Love the community ed class idea!

    Something I’ve done in the past to help keep myself from spending money online: make my Amazon (or whatever website) password include the word “Ireland” (a place I was saving money to visit) or “Worldbuilders” (a charity I like). Then, every time I typed in my password, I was forced to think about that thing — and whether I really wanted whatever I was gonna order more than that.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Oooh! That’s so smart!

    • Shantel

      I really love this idea! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Anonymous

    Definetly need an alternative to online dating. Or stop seeing being single as a thing that I can change. Maybe our life is only 40% up to us and the rest to God/karma or patience

  9. Lauren

    I can totally vouch for dropping the height requirement for a partner. Like most women, I have always been attracted to tall guys. But I met my current boyfriend on Tinder (!) and he is the same height as me (5’5). He is by far the most amazing person in the world, and I am so lucky to have met him. 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! Love it!

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