July 15, 2021

How to Manage Learning Curve Anxiety Guide


When Building New Skills, Expect & Manage Your Discomfort.

Today, I’m going to show you how to recognize and manage anxiety caused by learning discomfort.

Most people have a skill they need to learn but procrastinate because of learning discomfort. If left unchecked, learning curve anxiety can prevent you from achieving significant personal growth or neglecting business priorities once procrastination takes hold.

We know that delays can be costly, and time and opportunities wait for no one. The sooner we can remove the obstacles that hold us back, the sooner we get to where we need to go. 

If learning curve anxiety is holding you back, read on to find out how you free yourself and get on with getting the important work done.

Once you learn to identify how anxiety shows up in your body, you can call it out and manage it out of your system as the imposter it is. 

In this article, I’ll teach you how to prepare yourself for learning, and how to manage the anxiety that may arise so that you can persevere, enjoy and build confidence in the process.

What is Learning Discomfort or Anxiety?

Learning discomfort is the anxiety you feel when working on something outside of your comfort zone. It often stems from unfounded statements we make about ourselves, such as, “I’m terrible at anything I.T. related so I might as well not even try,” or a lack of self-confidence. It can show up in the body as a tightening of the throat, stomach, shoulders, shortness of breath, etc. Because each person’s experience is different, it’s vital to understand how your body reacts to manage your own anxiety when it shows up.

For this article, I will use a recent experience to help you identify your reaction to learning anxiety and how to manage it early on.

Making Cheese Biscuits -Where did my anxiety go?

On the weekend, I put together a batch of cheese biscuits when I noticed how easy the process was now after having made it many times over the last several years.

The recipe calls for cutting in a block of cream cheese into oatmeal size pieces in the dry ingredients. I found myself humming along to the time-consuming process, whereby I periodically scrape off big clumps of cream cheese and keep going. I held the cutting knife at a perfect angle so that the dry ingredients mixed readily. I recalled how this process of cream cheese buildup on the knife used to make me short of breath (anxiety) and tighten my throat. I was surprised that I no longer felt this way. I was enjoying the process and was in a state of flow.

Application Potential

The experience led me to consider a current learning anxiety I was having and putting off regarding new software. I realized that I could apply the principles of what I learned from making cheese biscuits to managing my new learning curve discomfort. The basic principles I learned are as follows.

How to Manage Learning Curve Discomfort

  • Learning discomfort or anxiety is normal and should be expected. 
  • Identify how learning discomfort shows up in your body, e.g. shortness of breath, tightening of the throat. Call it out when it arises.

  • Breathe slow, smooth breaths through the anxiety, and keep working.

  • Keep focused on the benefits of the goal, e.g. delicious cheese biscuits to go with homemade soup!

Now, It’s Your Turn-

Recall a recent skill you acquired. When you were still learning, how did the discomfort show up in your body? Name it.

Next, recall the pivotal moment when you overcame thinking and just started doing it (flow).

Apply What you Learned To What You Need to Learn Now. 

Writing Exercise- Answer the following

  • What is the new skill you need to learn?
  • Why is it essential to learn and become proficient?
  • How will you feel if you achieve it? 
  • What will happen if you don’t do it?

Book Uninterrupted Learning Time - 90 Minutes

Book a recurring time slot of uninterrupted 90 minutes to develop the essential skills you need. Turn off your phone, all other notifications and let others know you are unavailable during this time.

Prepare a clean environment free of all distractions. You may include a small glass of water.

When the time comes, do the work. This is your only option during the 90 minutes. 

How to Prepare for Effective Learning

step 1

Manage Expectations

Assure yourself that learning discomfort is normal and to be expected. 

step 2

Be Aware of What's Going On

Be aware of bodily responses. Call it out when it happens. 

step 3

Breathe Through Discomfort While You Work.

Breathe slowly, fully and smoothly while you keep working.

step 4

Stay Focused on the Goal & Enjoy the Process!

Stay focused on the benefits of your goal. Get excited with each incremental progress. Enjoy the journey.

Accept that Learning is a Process.

When you focus on committing to the process rather than the outcome, you are less discouraged if it takes longer than expected. You will improve; just focus on the process, and it will come. You are honing your ability to learn.

Learning Curve Anxiety is Normal and Manageable. Don't Let It Hold You Back!

Thanks to “How to Manage Learning Curve Anxiety Guide,” there is no need to put off over learning new skills anymore. You have everything you need to tackle anything new without delay and end behaviors that prevent you from moving forward and getting important work done.

As you found in this guide, knowing how to manage learning anxiety with ease means you’ll have more time to focus on activities that bring you the results you need.

Be sure you let me know what you think of “How to Manage Learning Curve Anxiety.” Please leave a comment below.

P.S. To get my Cheese Biscuit Recipe used in my example, click below.


learning curve, procrastination, self discipline, skills building

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Linda Reddin

About the author

Linda Reddin, CEC, PCC, founder of A Strategic Edge Coaching in Kamloops, BC, helps managers and leaders become excellent communicators and inspiring leaders of successful enterprises. In her free time, Linda enjoys cooking healthy dishes, exploring nature, reading, music, teaching and practicing yoga.

Linda Reddin

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