When was the last time you started something new? Are you doing that right now, with New Year’s Resolutions?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been on my mind almost constantly over the last year or so that I’ve been building my YouTube fitness empire. Building a business is still new to me, even though I’ve been at it for a while now. There’s always more to learn and more to do.
The workouts? Easy-peasy. I love fitness, I love working out, I love learning about new exercises and workout protocols. That all feels effortless to me.
But the behind-the-scenes stuff? Building a website, creating ads, finding an online shopping cart… I seriously might as well be learning to read and speak Latin. Or a harder language, because even Latin doesn’t seem all that bad.
I’ve mentioned before that being in business for yourself is a lot like trying to lose weight and get healthy. It’s a journey, a process. Like learning to play the piano or knit sweaters, it’s a skill. And here’s what I know about learning a new skill:
Even though other people make it look easy, it’s probably not easy
Generally speaking, by the time you notice somebody else’s abilities, they’ve been working on them for quite some time. That friend who decorates cakes like a professional? She didn’t start yesterday. The woman on YouTube with the kick-ass workouts (who, me?) has been exercising for years.
It’s simply not a fair comparison to look at where you are now and think, “I’m no good at this,” because other people are handling things like a champ. They’ve been practicing.
There are lots of reasons why playing the comparison game is a bad idea, but mostly it comes down to this: there is never a fair comparison. Nobody else is living with your particular set of circumstances, and has your challenges or your skills.
Once you can let go of the idea that the new skill should be “easy” because somebody else makes it seem that way, you’ll be free and clear to start putting in the work.
You did know that there was going to be work, right?
You’ve got to put your head down and grind it out
Remember taking piano lessons as a kid? I lasted like three months before I quit. Heaven help me, I hated to practice! I whined and complained and stalled. I sat at the piano and watched the clock – when will this stupid fifteen minutes be up? – and pretty much did everything in my power to stand in my own way.
As an adult, of course, I regret not sticking with it. Now, I understand that sometimes (frequently) you have to just make yourself do things, whether you want to or not. Some things in life – eating healthy, practicing the piano, exercising, flossing your teeth and cleaning the gutters come to mind – don’t have an immediate payoff, but are so freaking good for you in the long run that you really should insist to yourself that they get done.
You’re an adult. You can make yourself do things.
Understand that you’re going to fail. A LOT.
Coming back to those awful, no good piano lessons: on the rare occasion that I did actually practice, I was terrible. I mean, that’s no surprise considering how little I practiced, but it was one of the reasons that I hated the lessons so much. I simply wasn’t good. I failed constantly. If I were to calculate how many notes I missed versus how many I got right, I’d say the numbers were just about even. That’s a lot of failure.
However, if I had continued with it, I have absolutely no doubt that at some point, the scales (ha! See what I did there?) would have tipped in my favor. The more you practice a skill, the better you are bound to eventually become. The trick is waiting things out until that “eventually” finally shows up.
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness
This is such a big one for me. It’s hard to ask for help!
But, when you think about it rationally, there’s no better way to get where you want to go than by looking at a map. Not to compare – “Oh, the person who made this map has been everywhere and I’ve been nowhere, I’m such a loser.” – but to get a nice, clear picture of where you want to be.
Your friend who bakes cakes did not wake up one morning, suddenly blessed with the ability to create perfect frosting roses. She went to classes and learned from an expert. The guy giving piano lessons took a lifetime of lessons himself. Nobody learns in a vacuum, all by themselves.
This is the reason why I put free workout videos on YouTube and why I make step-by-step workout and running guides: I’ve been there, at the beginning of a fitness journey, wondering how in the world I was going to lose weight and get fit. I have tried and failed and pressed on and succeeded at this fitness thing. I know exactly how to get here from there.
It may be hard to ask for help, but it is so, so worth it.
And, finally, you really can’t have a timeline
I think it’s safe to say that when we’re starting something new, we’re willing to be awkward and feel foolish for a little bit, but then we’d like to see some measurable improvement.
With piano lessons, I wanted to be good enough to play whole songs after the first lesson.
When I was losing weight, I felt that an hour or two on my new diet should be sufficient to see a loss on the scale.
In business, striking it rich and retiring with ease in the first month or so seemed perfectly reasonable.
Funny how life always has different ideas, isn’t it? Sure, there’s a certain amount of predictability to some kinds of success – years of piano lessons will lead to playing well, months of eating well and exercising daily will lead to weight loss – but trying to pressure those successes onto your timeline is one of the fastest paths to frustration. Success will come when it comes, so your better bet is to learn how to enjoy the journey there.
Cheers to starting something new, Killer B! May you be patient, persistent and successful in all that you want to accomplish!
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