With a natural limit for how long I can spend around a group of people, I tend to operate a policy of minimal viable social interaction. This probably makes me an introvert, but I think of it more as my resting state. In the right circumstances, I can actually be quite outgoing, especially when in familiar environments among people I know. Put me on a stage, and I can really thrive.

However, I’m hesitant about signing up for public engagements, perhaps for fear of embarrassment or a bruised ego but also, frankly, anything for an easy life. Yet pushing beyond my comfort zone helps me grow as a person. And besides, the adrenaline that follows can give me the confidence I so often lack.

There’s an old Hindu saying: ‘In the first thirty years of your life, you make your habits; for the last thirty, your habits make you.’ If I’m not careful, my tendency towards introversion could mean I let opportunities pass me by.

For the last few years I’ve employed a little life hack: signing up my future self to things I would ordinarily avoid. In 2010, I applied to be a Games Maker at London 2012. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but one that would mean interacting with the public. It being some time away, I applied knowing I could defer those fears. Two years later, and there I was in the Olympic Park, high-fiving members of the public with my big pink foam finger and leading chants over a megaphone: “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!”

I repeated the same trick in 2012 when I applied to be a volunteer at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. I had a clearer idea of what was involved, but again was unsure about dealing with the public. Soon enough, I was directing people towards Hampden Park stadium, dressed in an unflattering poncho, singing in the rain and cheekily stealing people’s chips.

Clearly this little hack is working. So, what do I sign up for next?

This entry originally appeared on The Pastry Box Project