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How To Release The Desire To Be Perfect & Embrace Being A "Newbie"

The top of the year has a way of energizing us to try our hand at new hobbies or skills that pique our interest. Whether it’s an activity that helps fill our free time or enhances our personal development, there’s a certain joy and wonder that comes along with the newness. But once the novelty of the initial excitement begins to fade, it’s easy to lose motivation when thoughts of “not being good enough” start to slip in.

Still, that doesn’t mean it’s time to quit and give up entirely — in fact, it’s all more the reason to lean into the joy of being a newbie.


When embarking on something new, such as a project or endeavor, managing initial discomfort and self-doubt can be facilitated by two key factors: mindset and planning. According to Erin James, life strategist and coach, our mindset helps to cultivate a positive attitude and belief in our abilities, while planning entails outlining steps and strategies to navigate challenges effectively.

These two elements are crucial in overcoming initial obstacles and building confidence in the face of the unknown.

Being an adult beginner at something new

“First, you must go into it knowing that you will have moments of feeling uncomfortable, unsure, hesitant, and maybe even scared,” James tells xoNecole. “You’ll have moments where you feel like you made a mistake or can’t succeed in this new venture, but simultaneously, you need to trust and believe in yourself.”

He continues, “You have to embrace those moments and acknowledge that they are self-doubt, not facts. If you understand that these thoughts and moments will occur ahead of time, then you can manage them as they pop up and not let them control you. You can push past any discomfort or self-doubt with the rest mindset.”

While possessing the right mindset is important, it’s necessary to have a plan to lean on when treading unfamiliar waters in each new space. James says that maintaining motivation can be challenging when faced with the awkwardness and – that comes with being a beginner. We want to be good at what we’re doing, as soon as we start doing it, but that’s not always the reality. It’s in this case that the most effective motivator is to remain focused on the end goal.

“It’s easy to lose motivation when things seem both consistent and impossible. The best motivator will be to keep the end goal in mind,” he says. “You have to remember it’s a journey with a long path. It won’t always be exciting or progressive and it may feel pointless to keep going but if you keep the end goal in mind rather than judging yourself only on day-to-day accomplishments, it will be easier to keep going.”

It may come as a surprise that there are hidden benefits to embracing the mindset of a beginner. This concept is related to what’s known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a cognitive bias in which individuals with low ability in a particular area tend to overestimate their own skill level. It argues that people who lack knowledge or competence in a certain domain often mistakenly believe that they are much more competent than they actually are.

Conversely, those with higher levels of competence in a given area may underestimate their abilities because they are more aware of the complexities and nuances involved. Essentially, this highlights the paradox: those who know the least tend to think they know the most, while those who know the most may doubt their own abilities.

Simply put: it’s better to remain open to learning something new at every stage of the journey.

There’s only one road to becoming an expert at the hobbies, activities, and skills that we put our hands to and that’s by first being a rookie. Even the mere fact that you're attempting to try your hand at something new and journeying through unfamiliar territories is a testament to one’s openness to novelty and the process that comes with it. While you were the person you were when you started the journey, after sticking to the process you're bound to become a new and improved version of yourself.

Release perfection and enjoy the journey.

“Accept from the start that it will be challenging and you will have many moments where you feel like a failure,” James says. “Use your brain and trust your gut, it will usually help you avoid mistakes.”

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Featured image by Duangporn/Getty Images

 

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