November 9, 2021

Skills Building: How to Learn Any New Skill

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When Learning New Skills, Expect & Manage Discomfort.


Most of us have a skill we need to learn but put it off because of learning curve discomfort. If left unchecked, this type of anxiety can stifle personal and business growth once procrastination takes hold. In this article, I'm going to show you how to recognize the symptoms of learning curve discomfort early on and slay the dragon at the start.

Learning Skills are Crucial to Lead the Pack

We know that delays in a business can be costly. The reason is, competition in the global marketplace is fierce. And time and opportunities wait for no one. So, the sooner we can remove the obstacles that hold us back, the sooner we get to where we need to go. We need to get ahead of the pack or get left behind!

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.

Conquer Your Fears & Find Your Destiny

Once you know how anxiety shows up in your body, you can manage it out as the imposter it is. 

Better yet, I’ll teach you how to prepare yourself for successful learning and how to deal with anxiety as it comes. My goal is to help you enjoy learning, persevere and become confident in the process of learning.

What is Learning Discomfort or Anxiety?

learning anxiety

Learning discomfort is the anxiety you feel when working on something outside of your comfort zone. It can stem 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." Another reason may be due to a lack of self-confidence.

Regardless the reason, learning discomfort can show up as a tight throat, shoulders, stomach, breath, etc. Because each person is different, knowing how your body reacts to this type of stress is vital.

To provide a helpful context, I will share a recent experience of mine. Use my story to help inform your physical reaction to this kind of stress. The reason is, when you know the symptoms you can manage it out.

learning skills

Making Cheese Biscuits-Where did my anxiety go?

On the weekend, I had a revelation. My discovery came while making  a favorite treat - cheese biscuits. 

I was cutting a block of cream cheese into the flour mix to the size of oatmeal. This action usually produces a large clump at the start that is hard to manage- ugh! But, instead of feeling stressed, I hummed as I merrily scraped off clumps of cream cheese and kept at it. I noticed that my pastry knife was perfectly angled for the dry ingredients to receive. 

I remembered how tense I used to get when the cream cheese built up on the blade. During previous episodes, my breath shortened and my throat became tighter. I was stunned that I no longer felt this way. Instead, I enjoyed the process and was in a state of flow.

Application: Learn Any New Skill

The experience reminded me of anxiety I had (and was putting off) with learning new software.  What I learned from making biscuits could apply to learning any new skill.

In other words, if I can learn pastry cutting, then I can learn new software. I was confident this was true.

The trick was knowing how to manage my learning curve discomfort.

The basic principles I accepted are as follows.

How to Manage Learning Curve Discomfort

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

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

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

Now, It’s Your Turn- Reflection

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 shat you need to learn now. 

Writing Exercise- Answer the following

  • What is the new skill you need to learn?
  • Why is it essential? What benefits will it bring you?
  • What are the consequences of not doing it? 
  • How will you feel when you achieve 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. Your only other option is to stare at a blank screen 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. Then, call it out when it happens. 

step 3

Breathe Through Discomfort While You Work.

Breathe slowly 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. So Don't Let It Hold You Back!

Thanks to “Skills Building: How to Learn Any New Skill,” there is no need to put off over learning new skills anymore. You have everything you need to tackle anything new 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 “Skills Building: How to Learn Any New Skill.” Please leave a comment below.

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


Tags

learning skills, 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 develop influence and become 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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