On my journey into multipotentiality, I’ve discovered that having multiple interests is both a gift and a challenge. The gift is clear: we get to live authentically, in a world full of possibilities and time spent doing what we truly love. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The challenging side of having those possibilities, however, is that through exploring them, we’re repeatedly thrown back into the vulnerable, somewhat uncomfortable “beginner” phase, over and over again.
This has been one of my biggest struggles as a multipotentialite. I want to gain experience in so many things, but find myself hampered at one stage or another by ‘beginnersitis’ – frustration at my (lack of) progress, temptation to give up, and a desire to skip the hard part and be magically transported to the stage when I can experience the fruits of my labor.
Learning to identify and accept my beginnersitis has helped me focus more on the positive aspects of learning a new skill. When I’m not distracted by how far along I should be, I’m a lot more in touch with the excitement, the challenge, and the satisfaction that comes with finally mastering that one tricky part.
Here are some tips I’ve found useful for easing myself into being a beginner:
1. Focus on doing little and often
Doing a little every day can help us transition away from the beginner phase in three ways. Firstly, it’s a more helpful way of learning. Instead of cramming in a huge session once a week, taking the ‘drip drip drip’ approach and doing a little practice or learning here and there each day helps us move from the “consciously incompetent” to “conscious competence” far quicker.
Secondly, doing little and often prevents ‘brain overload’. Learning a new skill is incredibly energy-intensive, and it’s easy to get burned out. For example, one of my current projects is learning Spanish. Right now I can talk to someone else for about 30 minutes before my mind starts going blank, I make rookie mistakes and I start wondering if I’ll ever get the hang of this language malarky. Recognizing I’ve hit my limit helps prevent self-doubt and frustration and makes for a much more fulfilling experience.
On a related note, doing little and often is a great antidote to resistance. When we push ourselves too hard, experience brain overload, or set unrealistic goals and expectations, being a beginner stops being fun and starts being frustrating. With every new challenge, we need to strike a balance so that our experience is weighted mostly on the ‘fun’ side. Otherwise, we’re less likely to feel motivated to continue, and more likely to experience beginner’s resistance.
2. Be gentle
However fast we get to grips with or improve a new skill is absolutely fine, because that’s how fast we’re doing it. We can’t change reality and we can’t expect to move mountains in the first few days. Like we talked about in the last paragraph, setting harsh or unrealistic expectations for ourselves is a motivation killer.
Being a beginner is a fantastic chance to exercise our self-compassion muscle and practise being gentle with ourselves. This kind of compassion is invaluable: it doesn’t just apply to new skills, but translates to all other areas of our lives too. The key is to make sure we’re working with ourselves, rather than against ourselves.
3. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal throughout the learning process is a great way to keep track of positive progress. Not only does it help you see how far you’ve come, but it also gives you an outlet for self-encouragement. If and when that critical voice pops up saying “Shouldn’t you really be better at this by now?” or “This is pointless, you’re never going to get it”, your journal will contain reams of proof as to how much you have achieved, and how capable you are at going further.
4. Share the experience
Several of my friends were interested in starting businesses at the same time, so one of them set up a Facebook group. We have monthly calls where we give updates on our businesses and ask for feedback. Even though we’re all doing very different things, it’s been invaluable.
Community is a powerful motivating factor. Not only does sharing your goals with others leave you publicly accountable, but it also enables you to get any support and encouragement you need from people who understand what you’re experiencing.
Try finding others who are also a beginner in your particular skill, or embarking on a different project of their own (the Puttytribe is a great place to start). Sharing your experiences, frustrations, wins and knowledge with other people can keep you motivated and speed up the learning process. Sharing your goals and desires with the people closest to you is also helpful. Public accountability alone is a great motivator, and the right people will admire your courage in stating your goals openly.
5. Celebrate the small wins
One of my biggest challenges in being a beginner is accepting and celebrating the small wins; for example, the first time I managed to hold a certain yoga pose for three seconds, the first time I learned about the Spanish preterit tense, selling a certain number of ebooks per month, or completing the first draft of my new book. These small wins might be far removed from where I eventually want to be with each of these projects, but they’re important milestones and deserve a mini-celebration.
Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the eventual goal that we overlook the small successes along the way. Taking time to acknowledge these will not only help you appreciate how much progress you’re making, but also keep you motivated to continue further.
What are your tips for overcoming the struggles associated with being a beginner? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Hannah Braime runs Becoming Who You Are, the guide to authentic living. She is passionate about helping people create the lives they want from the inside out using a rational approach to personal development. The author of two published books, she coaches and offers resources on authentic living through www.becomingwhoyouare.net. Connect with her via her website, on Facebook and Twitter @becomewhour.