Whenever we start something new, or are interested in widening our personal horizons, it’s incredibly easy for us to feel out of sorts or unable to properly express ourselves. Where do we start? How can we begin learning when there’s so much we already don’t know? Furthermore, how can we know if this is right for us? After all, when starting to learn the guitar, for instance, we’re going to suck for a while. Maybe even a year or two. Making that commitment to go through that process and climb that mountain can be a big ask.
So, how can you get into a new hobby and practice without having to suck every last ounce of discipline you use for living your normal life? It’s a good question, and answering it could help us move forward and potentially become more productive in all areas of our life. A healthy interest in self-improvement can help us identify our vulnerabilities and instead start moving forwards to a positive end result.
That’s worth knowing about. So, how do we get there? In the following guidance, we’ll walk that exact same pathway with you:
There’s Worth In Novicehood
Don’t think that novicehood is something you have to ‘speed through’ in order to become ‘competent’ as quickly as possible. There’s worth in being a novice, and in learning, and in making the ‘noob gains’ you’ve been wanting to make. This is where mentors are more forgiving, where you can make mistakes more easily, and furthermore, where you can fall in love with your practice or craft.
It’s important to know this. For instance, no one who becomes a sports commentator or fantasy football practitioner, using the best tips available, does so without a deep love for the sport in question. It’s important to watch the games, to know the players, to enjoy the rulesets and to see them in action, over and over again. Perhaps even playing the sport helps you gain a visceral connection to it, just like home cooks will often whip up fancier and more interesting dishes after eating at a few beautiful restaurants – they are inspired and want a little of this craft for themselves.
However, novicehood is also where you can learn the quickest and more easily. Your bad habits haven’t been defined yet. If you have a good teacher, or learn from a good source, you can prevent forming them. For this ideal, there is worth in novicehood, and often this is where your excitement and prior motivation can launch you. Of course, you will soon need to convert this motivation into its more steely companion, discipline, but right now you just need to focus on showing up on time, listening, and trying – even if this practice is defined within your own scope of ability. That’s a confident place to start, and one that will suppress any need to criticize yourself appropriately.
Understand Your Purpose
Understand your purpose for learning this craft in the first place. Something has drawn you to it most likely, and you don’t have to have an overly complex, storied or emotional reason to do well in a craft. Perhaps you’re just learning Spanish because you’ve always liked the culture. Maybe you’ve picked up a guitar because you enjoy folk music and wish to relay some of your favorite covers. You have no illusions of greatness, but you wish to earnestly try, and that’s more than enough.
However, sometimes we can feel peer-pressured into certain tasks. Maybe you are trying something new because you’re trying to please someone else. Now, that might not always be a bad thing. Perhaps your friend has invited you to a salsa class because they want you to get out of the house more and they wish to build up your confidence. You might be awful at dancing. You might have two left feet that somehow disobey your every willful instruction. That’s fine. But might it be that a purpose is unclear to you? That you could actually very much identify with this practice should you attempt it? So – knowing your purpose can be very important, but sometimes, leaving room to define that even after starting can be a great idea. Understanding your purpose means staying flexible with it, however it defines itself.
Enjoying yourself is your solemn duty. Why is this? Well, to begin with, you’re more likely to return if you have a little fun. This doesn’t mean you can pick up a guitar and pull off an amazing song within a matter of minutes. However, you can have fun learning basic songs as you visit a teacher to understand chord progressions. You can listen to the great guitarists and become inspired.
Furthermore, you actually learn more easily when playing. This is not a new insight. Think of how you learned most things as a child. We see young children playing with dolls, simulating family situations or action movie scenes, and we think of them as simply having fun and passing them time. But what these children are engaged in is actually something rather profound and sophisticated, that is they’re learning about the world and simulating it through their own imagination. They’re also having fun. The two don’t have to be separated, and in fact, work better in unison.
So – how can you enjoy yourself? Might there be something you’re ignoring, or haven’t considered quite yet? If you can get there, odds are you’ll be making positive progress in the direction of your new hobby or practice.
Find A New Community
Finding a community to share in your learning experience can be a worthwhile use of your time. Not only does this help you enjoy this process more, it helps you learn faster. You don’t have to join a specialized class to understand how this works, either. You simply need to show up with one another person that wishes to improve as you do.
For examples, let’s say you’re going into the gym to practice some compound, free-weight lifts. You want to develop your overall strength, and so have moved away from the restrictive exercise machines in favor of barbells. You have read a book outlining perfect form from cover to cover, and so has your companion. It will surely be easier to weight-lift with proper form with a second pair of eyes to watch you, and to comment on your mistakes, and to work with you to help you achieve the best and safest practice possible.
Then, you can provide the same favor to them, which will help them grow and learn at an enhance rate, too. Thankfully, this will also cement the theory in your mind more, which will help you try even more successfully your next go around. What an amazing feedback loop! This is why learning Yoga in a class can be better, joining a team will always be better than practicing alone, and why no martial-artist can practice without someone there to offer him a challenge. Finding a new community can be a great step to keep you motivated, disciplined, and engaged.
Read Theory & Craft Trips
It can be instructive to read into the craft and memoirs associated with your new hobby or practice, even if that doesn’t particularly help your current endeavor. For instance, it might be that thanks to your new painting passion, you read about famous painters that have helped shaped some of the rules and styles you may wish to work in. Learning about their early life and the tumultuous events that shaped them won’t help you move your brush with any more skill, but it will inform your art, and help you feel a sense of connection to the practice you have.
That can be great, and it provides sustenance, or ‘soul food’ that you need to keep going. Inspiration can come this way, as it can come in many ways. Who knows? Perhaps one day you will write your own story, or live one worth writing about, with this practice to aid you.
Specialize & Diversify
It’s not uncommon for people to have a slight inclination towards certain pathways within a discipline or practice. For instance, you might be more interested in painting watercolor pictures than painting through any other format, and with any other materials.
However, in order to specialize, you also need to diversify. This means understanding what most of the major disciplinary principles suggest, and how to properly use them. To use an example – when entering film school for the first time, the first year is mostly going to comprise of a set of modules that help you enjoy every aspect of filmmaking. Some might translate to props and the art department, scriptwriting lessons will be undertaken, and directing class will also be in your schedule. This will help you choose what to do later. The same principle is important when moving into a hobby – specializing is only valid when you first diversify.
With this advice, we hope you can more easily get into a new hobby or practice. This is where the fun becomes, so don’t forget to enjoy yourself!