You Can Learn Anything You Want, Just Don’t Quit

Woman stretching with struggle

I had a revelation yesterday. Sometimes that happens to me. I’m minding my own business when a crystal clear thought slaps me in the face. It was more like a knowing, actually, and it told me that we can really learn anything, all that matters is perseverance.

And that, my friends, hit the proverbial nail on the head. I have been known to go from one thing to another for some time now, feeling incompetent and really bad about myself, because of my inability of developing any exceptional skill. So, does that mean there’s something wrong with me? Not at all.

I recently discovered that there are many people who do not find their one true calling, rather they are learning many different things and combining them uniquely together. They’re called multipotentialites. I know, it’s a mouthful. I thought, great, nothing’s wrong with me after all, there are others like me and this trait can actually be of benefit!

But, I still felt inadequate without much to show for after all these years of dabbling in many different areas, from breakdancing to addictology. There are different stages at which I’ve left these skills. Some I tried and left almost immediately, some I stuck with a bit longer. Some skills I still really like and have interest to learn, but have a hard time continuing. Why?

The Reason Behind Quitting

This might differ for each person, but I found these main reasons for quitting:

  • Boredom (you thought it would be more fun than it actually is);
  • Frustration/ Failure (you take failures too personally);
  • Limiting Beliefs (this is when your subconscious mind decides to throw sticks under your feet);
  • Self-sabotage (when you don’t allow yourself to receive all the goodness).

With most of the skills I started learning, I felt discouraged and de-motivated to continue because of, what to me looked like constant failures. I was always quite hard on myself, with high standards and self-criticism, which only led to frustration and resentment towards whatever I was learning. I had little patience, and wanted to be awesome almost straight away. That is how I abandoned a significant portion of my endeavors. I killed it.

If the Key Is to Persevere, How Can I?

Learn anything – Beautiful mountain view

Do you ever go hiking? I really dislike walking up the hill, it’s like a torture of some kind to me. But, every now and again I decide to hit the mountains, anyway. Why? I want to enjoy the beautiful environment, the gorgeous views and that epic feeling I get when standing on the top of a hill or a mountain, bit closer to the birds and the sky.

My point is, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to get there. If I only walked a few meters from my house and decided it’s too much work, I wouldn’t get there. If I stopped before the peak, thinking it’s too hard, too far and impossible to reach, I wouldn’t get there. We understand that. With learning skills it’s the same.

TO LEARN ANYTHING IS TO MAKE MISTAKES

The mistakes and failings are important steps in learning and through them you become better. There’s no point in crying over making a mistake as it is, in fact, a learning experience.

It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow.
You have to get bad in order to get good.

— Paula Scher

When I applied for an animation school and didn’t get accepted, I felt so down that I stopped drawing for a long time. When I applied for a circus school and didn’t get accepted, I felt like crap and abandoned all my dreams of ever becoming an acrobat.

I let those rejections and “failings” define my worthiness. I realize now that if I have continued with it and persevered, I would have eventually been accepted. But instead I took it way too personally, thinking I’m not good enough and that I’m never gonna make it. That I don’t have that talent, I don’t have the skill. I felt so discouraged that I couldn’t continue.

Ralph Smart says: “The difference between the master and a student is that the master has failed more times than the student has even tried.” Be patient with yourself and welcome the mistakes as the growing factor.

Also, do not take yourself too seriously. This is something I still do myself, but I am reminding myself that it’s not that big of a deal. Making a mistake is not (most of the time) dangerous. Just chill a bit, and allow yourself to be bad before being good.

FIND SOMETHING YOU LIKE DOING, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT IT

Learn Anything You Want - Evi doing a wheel pose on the beach

You gotta really like something to be able to do it while not getting the reward of it, i.e. when you still suck at it. Some people just will themselves through this phase, I suppose, but I think it’s better to do what you really like so much so that you don’t care looking stupid for a while.

For a very long time I’ve been putting off my singing because even though I love it so much, I so don’t want people hearing me suck at it, I rather don’t sing (only when I’m home alone). And because I’m not practicing, I’m not improving either. How will I ever learn? I have to start practicing which means stop caring that some people will hear me sing terribly for a while. Do your thing not because you’re great at it but because you love it and eventually you will get great at it 🙂

The point is to do something that’s fun in and of itself, where you don’t need to whip yourself up to go and do it in order to achieve some goal you set. The reward, truly, is the joy of doing it.

So ask yourself whether you’re in it for the end result or you actually enjoy the process? These days so many people do things out of these extrinsic motivations instead of really following their joy. They set a goal and try to achieve it by working hard and applying themselves diligently. And then they have a hard time. Obviously.

This will really help you to weed out the skills you’re only interested in because, for example, it might be cool or you believe having that skill will yield you better job opportunities. But what is the point in spending your time doing something you really don’t enjoy?

When you’re not enjoying the journey, how do you expect to enjoy the destination?

Enjoying the process really is critical in persevering, ‘coz this process has no end. Even the teachers are still learning. Your level changes, but there is always more to learn.

DO NOT GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF

Do not compare yourself at your level 1 to somebody at level 50. Really, don’t. It’ll make you miserable and possibly make you want to quit. It happened. Comparing ourselves generally doesn’t serve us. There are so many variables that it’s never a fair comparison, anyway.

Every person that mastered any skill had to start somewhere, too. They might not remember their beginnings anymore, but they too were, at some point, really shitty at it. It’s a process, okay.

Some people get motivated by seeing what others are doing, but I tend to get discouraged. If you are like me, save yourself the misery and just focus on your own work. Immerse yourself in your own creation and do not mind others.

What to Take Away From This

The main point of this article is, that you can learn anything you want, all you need to do is to stick with it. Love what you are doing. Enjoy the process of learning. Don’t mind being a beginner – it’s just a stage which everyone has to go through.

CHECKPOINTS:

  • Pick the thing you love practicing, not the thing you love the end state of.
  • Don’t take mistakes and failures personally. See them as important lessons to learn and become better.
  • Don’t be hard on yourself. Ease into the never-ending process of learning. It is not about being perfect or being finished. It’s a practice 🙂

Do you struggle with learning skills? Are you a quitter or a “perseverer”? What’s your tried and tested method of learning skills?

4 thoughts on “You Can Learn Anything You Want, Just Don’t Quit

  1. Florian Walther says:

    That’s really something I try to hammer into my head every single day, because I always was someone who quit things when they became boring. Then there was one thing in my life for which I managed to persevere and I became successful in it without any talent. Just by keep doing it. Now I tell myself every single day that unless I really hate what I do, I must not quit. Not out of boredom or mistakes.

    • Evi says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience – it really is just about keeping practicing and we can learn anything. I don’t believe that talent is a defining factor.
      I will most likely be writing more about learning skills as this is a big topic for me personally and still have much more to say about it 🙂

  2. jana s. says:

    Evi , love the article . It is so true 🙂
    Keep doing what you love .

    Looking forward to new experience 🙂

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