5 TIPS on being a beginner

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Last week I got the chance to be a beginner at something, something I wanted to not have to be a beginner at. I was a guest speaker on a podcast. Given that I speak in front of groups regularly it seems like a small transition. However, a podcast is different. A podcast is recorded. This podcast is recorded and goes on iTunes. Translation: whatever I say is going to be carved in stone forever, this is how I will be remembered, omg, why did I agree to this…cue rising heat of perfectionism in my body. Whew, is it hot in here?

There was a time in my life, where I would have turned away an opportunity like this, telling myself “I wasn’t ready” where in reality I just wanted to bypass the experience of being new at something. Because when you are new, it’s scary. Mistakes are pretty much a guarantee, and there is no experience to fall back on.

I am always grateful (and amused) when my perfectionism creeps up around my business. I mean, come on, my company name is The Imperfectionista. Lucky for me it is also a constant reminder to keep practicing this stuff in my daily life. The podcast will be coming out on December 10th. I don’t want to give too much of it away, but one of the things I briefly talk about is how important it is to practice being a beginner.

I often hear clients speak about how their perfectionism hinders them from trying something new, especially when it is something we would really like to be good at. We get stuck in the thought of: “If I can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?” Sound familiar? As we get older, we naturally have less practice with being a first-timer in many areas of our life. We know how to walk. We’ve learned to drive a car. It’s pretty easy to get comfortable sticking to what we know. While routines can be helpful, from time to time we all have to step out of our routine. Change is an inevitable part of life and often requires us to begin again. Psychologically speaking the practice of being a beginner is an important piece to building resiliency.

So, how do we do it? How do we begin?

Here are my TOP FIVE TIPS on being a beginner:

  1. Practice. Find something new to try, such as giving a presentation, rollerblading or trying your hand at a pottery class. If the thought of being new at something feels daunting, start with something you are less vested in. For example, I have never tried karaoke, but really good singers amaze me, and I secretly want to be a karaoke rock-star. To anyone else this may be easy-peasy, however for me it is pretty high stakes. I have also never been rock climbing, but it’s not as important to me. I have less “ideals” build up around climbing a rock. It would be much easier for me start off practicing being a beginner with things like rock climbing, and then work my way up to being a beginner at karaoke.
  1. Let go of the outcome. It’s easy to get caught up in where you want to go, but remember as a beginner you just have to take one step at a time. Let go of things out of your control and focus on staying present.
  1. Embrace the experience. You only get one chance to be new at something. Enjoy the process! Take a mindful moment and notice what you see/hear/feel/smell/taste when you try something new. Soak in the full experience.
  1. Remember you are a beginner. Be gentle with yourself. Celebrate the mistakes you make. Think of a time in the past when you were a beginner and reflect on your growth. Practice some self-compassion and give yourself permission to be where you are at in the learning process.
  1. Find a take away. The great thing about being a beginner is that you get to take away experience. What else did you learn by trying something new? Whether you continue your new activity/behavior or not you can always learn about yourself. Take that knowledge and apply it to your next experience.

I challenge you to try something new. What are you waiting for?

Leave a comment below with your best experience of being a beginner!

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