Ann Bernard has been a risk taker for most of her life. She served for 24 years in the United States Marine Corps, both at home and abroad; has traveled to 40 countries; is an author and serial entrepreneur; and for the past seven years, has been a collector of experiences. That process proved so rewarding that she recently launched an app to encourage others to seize the day – every day, called the #365FirstsChallenge.
The #365FirstsChallenge is a free app that helps users expand their activities and likewise, their life perspective, by exploring new things in categories like volunteerism, games, life skills, dance, foods, music and travel. Users search from more than 1,300 “firsts” for those they want to add to their to-do list and then set a timeline for completing them. Users can also add their own unique items to their lists. Once an item is completed, the user can mark it as finished, earn badges and trophies, and share the news on social media.
But Bernard is quick to point out what the app isn’t. It is not a bucket list. It is instead a means of discovering new things that may very well end up becoming a regular part of the user’s life and help enhance their life’s journey. Bernard, in fact, learned through her research for the app that new experiences are responsible for helping increase creativity; improve cognitive abilities; enhance open-mindedness, confidence and spontaneity; and even help fend off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“Comfort zones, fears, and being creatures of habit keep us from stepping into the unknown and can put limits on one’s life potential. We can’t achieve higher levels of success, awareness, health or happiness doing the things we’ve always done. I want to do whatever I can to encourage, motivate, and assist people to reach for those “firsts” and enjoy their lives to the fullest,” stressed Bernard.
Future iterations of the app will include location-based services, in-app purchases for activities/classes, and the ability to connect with other participants who have selected the same “firsts.” Local #365FirstsChallenge Meet-up Groups will also be formed by city throughout 2020.
“First times and new experiences are proven to be of significance in living a full and happy life. The #365FirstsChallenge is a great tool to get people started and keep them focused on the possibilities that their life’s journey holds,” she added.
For more information, go to 365firstschallenge.com. To download the app, go to #365FirstsChallenge in the Apple or Android app store.