The way we approach new goals and dreams, in many ways, reflects how we feel about learning. The parallels between the two can shed light on ways we might be sabotaging our efforts to improve.
In Presence, by Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski and Betty Sue Flowers, the authors state that, “When we’re learning something new, we can feel awkward, incompetent and even foolish. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s really not so important after all to incorporate the new – and so we give up.”
When we set goals to improve in some area we have to step outside of our normal routines, habits, behaviors, thoughts etc. in order to change. If we keep doing what are currently doing we will keep getting what we are getting. We have to change in order to change what we achieve.
But change is very difficult. Our minds are programmed to find comfort in the familiar. We naturally form patterns of thought that we might not even know exists.
But this is all mental. It is all about how we internally process our thoughts and emotions.
Back in high school I hated school and learning almost any subject. My interests were in anything but school. I did well but it felt more like a tense pressure to perform than something enjoyable.
At that time I felt completely awkward, incompetent, and even foolish as I went about my day. I didn’t accept that as part of the learning process and didn’t realize that those emotions were sabotaging my ability to keep learning.
Going after our goals often comes with the same awkward feelings. The first time we go to the gym we feel like we are the out-of-place kid in a new grade school. The first time we take a graduate level class we feel that everyone in the class must be smarter that us.
But the worst part is always the beginning. If we can push pass the discomfort we can start to see that the way to improve is by outlasting that initial feeling to give up.
So if you are setting a goal and starting to work at the habits and routines in order to improve, accept that the initial feelings of incompetence are normal. Everyone felt that when they first started. But as we continue we start to get more and more confident in our abilities and more comfortable in our new routines.
The other element is to learn how to silence that internal, nagging voice. We have to realize that this is a normal part of it and not let it grow and grow until it becomes overwhelming and seems that the only available option is to quit.
By doing this and realizing the process of learning and the process of self-improvement, we can start to reach our goals and continue to grow throughout our lifetimes.