Patagonia Trip
That's a paradisiac lake in the Argentine Patagonia, and that's a guy who definitely doesn't need to read this article. (Photo via Elisabeth Brentano, Taylor Burk, Sunski)

We had to survive so many threats last year – climate change, the invasive presence of Despacito, and the fidget spinner rotating everywhere – that we had to strive more than expected in our goal to change the world. It’s no lie that as every other millennial out there we want it all, and there are so many things to do on our modest bucket lists (like learning three languages at a time in just one year, and traveling to Dubai like a Kardashian after creating a successful startup in only three weeks) that sometimes we don’t actually know where and how to start.

Luckily, 2018 is already here to bring us new challenges, and our Instagram feed will be there to prove it. Here’s a guide with five cool – and still very realistic – ways to step out of your comfort zone in 2018.

1. Volunteer

There are tons of peer-reviewed papers and scientific studies that demonstrate that helping others is vital to achieving a better sense of happiness, increasing self-confidence and creating deeper connections with people. But the real reason why volunteering is the ultimate challenge that will undoubtedly improve your personal skills and create a significant impact on your community is that actions matter more than words, and volunteering is all about actions.

So instead of, say, signing an online petition to stop people from eating dogs in China, you can actually help local institutions who are carrying out adoption campaigns to give pets a home. Your brain will probably reward you for it because it knows the difference between real acts of fondness and a Facebook complaint about how horrible humans are.

Pets of the City of Buenos Aires is always organizing adoption campaigns and you can join them whenever you want. For example, last December, they gave more than 350 pets in adoption and found more than 10 tons of food for rescue dogs and cats.

Buenos Aires 2018
The 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games are taking place in Buenos Aires in October and they are already looking for dozens of bilingual volunteers. (Photo via Buenos Aires 2018)

 

If cute animals are not your thing (you monster), you might wanna check out the fact that later in October, Buenos Aires will be celebrating the third edition of the Summer Youth Olympics. The event is bringing almost 4,000 young athletes from 206 different countries and the Olympic Committee is already searching for volunteers able to collaborate for 6-8 hours a day during one of the most important sports events of the world. You can already submit a request for a volunteering position at the Summer Youth Olympics here.

If these ideas don’t float your boat, you might wanna take a look at wherever your interests lie and check with local charities, cultural centers, schools, etc., and figure out how you can give back! (No, there is no such thing as teaching young minds how to lie on the couch all day – now get moving!)

2. Adopt a Pet

There are more than one million dogs and cats in Buenos Aires, and many of them do not have a home. If you think 2018 is the perfect year to start having new responsibilities, adopting a pet might be a great way to start.

If instead you’re the kind of people who lets your cactus and/or plant die because you forget to water it, please go straight to the next recommendation. Animals are very emotional creatures that need attention, love, and food. If you cannot bear that responsibility, it might be better for you to keep watching them on memes like these ones, or you can go back to step one and volunteer for a pet organization.

Sad Dog in Gif hd #2

If you’re on the fence about this, remember what Pets of the City of Buenos Aires says: “It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much space – your house will always be warmer and more welcoming than the outdoors for a puppy or a kitten in danger.”

Fun fact: people feel way more confident when approaching an attractive person when they are accompanied by their dogs, as shown by a survey conducted by Slate. (Also: if you’re rejected, you still have your dog, so who’s the real loser?)

wS2ZO1s

3. Sweat Stress Out (In Any Way Possible)

Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions that everyone has in common. But joining the gym and starting a complicated diet on the first day of the year might not always be the best – and realistic – plan for those whose schedules are so complicated that they are already struggling with their January calendar. (Also, NYE leftovers looking at you seductively from the fridge don’t really help.)

However, exercising will always help you gain the concentration you need to break the barriers to everything that is holding you in your comfort zone, so you should, you know, do something. You might want to try and find alternative activities or events that you can join sometime in the week which can help you burn some calories and sweat stress out at the same time.

Daybreaker in Buenos Aires
Now that summer is here, the idea of going to 7-am parties doesn’t sound that torturous. (Photo via Melina Stefanich)

 

On January 19, Daybreaker is throwing out another 6-AM-sober-dance-party in a secret location yet to be announced. Going to a morning dance event might be a great way to renovate your energy levels creatively. (Waking up super early BY CHOICE? Now that’s stepping out of your confort zone).

The city is also full of places that are offering yoga classes for free, and you can check them out here. And remember: it’s always better to do at least some activity that requires you to move your bones than doing nothing at all.

Photo via buenosaires.gob.ar
Morning yoga classes at the United Nations Square, City of Buenos Aires (Photo via buenosaires.gob.ar)

4. Ride a bike to work/ school

If you are always running late everywhere you go, 2018 might be the best year to start taking full responsibility for your own transportation, and there’s no arguing that buying a bike is the best choice you can possibly make.

I’d be lying if I said that riding a bike during a sweltering summer day while you’re wearing a tucked-in shirt to the office is a fantastic plan (pro tip: ride on a t-shirt and bring the shirt in your backpack). The idea itself seems troublesome, but aren’t we looking for new ways to step out of our comfort zone?

Buenos Aires Bike
Yes, that’s Buenos Aires (you can notice this because of the jacaranda trees and their purple flowers), and that’s also a guy riding an Ecobici for free (you can notice because they are a very descreet – not – shade of yellow). (Photo via Ecobici)

 

If we look away from the sweating, riding a bike is cheap, healthy and sustainable – that US $30K Audi will always produce way more CO2 than your AR $3000 bike (and Tesla is obviously not coming soon to Argentina *sad emoji face*).

Also, adding to the fact that we don’t actually have US $30K to buy an Audi, riding a bike will also double its appeal by still being cheaper than the bondis or subtes after transportation fees double this year.

Using the city’s bicycle-sharing system might be a great starting point if you aren’t sure yet if you want to buy your own bike – just check the video to see what you need to do. You can have them for free and Buenos Aires already has more than 180 kilometers of lanes (take a look at the map here!).

Buenos Aires Bike
You probably won’t look as cool as this girl after riding a bike for 30 minutes to get to work, but hey, at least you will burn 500 calories every day (or the same as 6.25 medialunas). (Photo via Bicycle Colorado)

5. Travel Solo Somewhere You Don’t Know

You cannot expand your comfort zone if you don’t trust your own abilities, but before confidence comes self-love, and there’s no better way to work on it than spending time with no one but yourself.

When you travel alone, you’re the only leader of your own destination. You can choose to sleep 18 hours straight at a hostel room, or you can go outside all day long, and no one will judge you. And if you’re an obsessive planner and want to break out the habit of trying to control everything out there, the uncertainty of traveling solo will always challenge you.

La Serranía de Hornocal
The Fourteen Colors Hill is one of the most underrated nature attractions in Argentina and it has been featured as one of National Geographic top places to visit in 2018. (Photo via Flickr/ Fabián Tomasoni)

 

There are dozens of local destinations that you can explore to suit all budgets. Mar del Plata (please don’t go there during the summer if your pure objective is to work on your inner peace), Tandil, the Iguazú Waterfalls, El Calafate, Ushuaia, the Patagonia in general, or Jujuy, among many, many others, are all fascinating places to which you can travel solo. (Think how much can you discover about yourself on a 20-hour bus trip to Bariloche!)

And if you are up for an international adventure, New York, Thailand, Rio de Janeiro, and Taiwan are among the best alternatives for solo travel. (But then maybe “all budgets” becomes a bit of a stretch. Hey, you never know when you might win the lottery, right?)

Patagonia Trip
Beautiful, stunning Patagonia will always be there to welcome you. (Photo via Taylor Burk, Elisabeth Brentano, Sunski)

 

More yoga and less Netflix! (But still some Netflix, you know, let’s not get too extreme). Here’s to a great 2018!