What Makes Learning New Skills Difficult

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I’ve made some progress in my personal, professional and coding journeys recently, and I wanted to write a little about the challenges of making progress, tackling some of the frustrations and discomforts that are not often talked about when discussing progress.

Learning new things makes you feel like you have wasted time.

This one has come up a lot for me recently. 

I’ve been working hard to improve in all areas of my life, and every time I’ve isolated the next step in any journey, I feel this sense of frustration that I have been doing something “wrong” or “imperfectly” this whole time. 

Take my site for example. 

When I began the rebuild and realised that the technique I was using was going to be a massive time saver and allow me to work so much more on more exciting projects, my first reaction was frustration. 

I’d wasted so much time doing it the old way! Time I could have been using to learn new coding languages and frameworks! Or you know, spending quality time with friends and family I guess…

And this happens in my personal and professional life as well. A realisation that something could be done better is always followed by a frustration that I haven’t been doing that the whole way through. 

However, it’s important to remember that it isn’t a personal failure when you discover a better way to do things. In fact, it’s a personal triumph that you are putting time into examining your thoughts, behaviour and skills to discover this new path.

History is littered with people who don’t discover their flaws, don’t evolve and plough on regardless.

Be proud you aren’t one of those people.

Commitment to progress makes work infinite and cyclical.

If you are truly committed to growth, you are signing up for an infinite amount of work. 

There’s no finish post for growing in your personal or professional life, and that’s why you see a lot of people who put all their eggs in their professional basket work themselves tirelessly. For example, Warren Buffett never retired and he is legitimately 200 years old and got his first trading tip from Montezuma II.

Personal growth is often described as a lifelong journey, and you have to keep iterating on yourself, taking feedback and progressing to become a happier, healthier and kinder person.

It’s very easy to slip into a habit of not being present in the moment when you are chasing growth as you are constantly thinking of the next big thing.

The next promotion, the next big project, the next facet of yourself you can improve. 

One thing I have been finding helping me is meditation and grounding.

I try to make sure that whilst I am looking to the future, I am not eschewing the present and learning from the past as well. Sometimes I sack off coding to get a donut, and that really helps. 

Another thing that helps is not taking things so seriously, and trying to remember that I’m learning and growing because I chose to, and enjoying the journey rather than fixating on a destination.

Yes, I realise the irony of telling people not to take themselves seriously in a blog I wrote about myself on a website with my name as the URL, mind your beeswax.

You have to allocate time to relatively boring tasks.

As much as I love it, sometimes learning coding can be boring, especially if you don’t get it right away, or can’t see immediate use cases for something. 

It's the same with certain aspects of personal growth.

A relatively simple example is running. Running can be incredibly boring when you are just taking it slow and pushing through a run. Commitment to growth means you have to allocate time you may want to be sitting on the couch playing FIFA to repetitive and frustrating tasks, and that can be a bit of a hard pill to swallow. 

However, to quote my favourite athlete of all time, Muhammad Ali :

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

A helpful way to look at it is that byy committing free time to these pursuits, it means that you can seize opportunities that may come along in the future, whether it’s a new job role, an important personal situation that needs resolving or knocking out George Foreman in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s about discipline and being comfortable whilst uncomfortable.

I wanted to write this to help anyone who may see it whilst struggling on their growth journey, I’d love to hear from people about their tips to not get discouraged so reach out if you want to share!

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