I wish I could say I love to learn. Unfortunately, it is so much easier to quit.
Though I love to possess the knowledge, but the process of gaining new knowledge is just so painful.
Talking from experience
I remember the first time I got on the ski slopes. It was only four years ago. On the first day, I went to a professional ski school. After learning the basics, I spent the afternoon practicing on my own.
It was so damn hard to slide down that small slope without losing control. When I got too fast the words of my instructor popped to my mind: “Open the snow plow wider!” But it felt as that was the widest plow I could make with my skis and it still felt like I was barely slowing, or turning. As I was trying to turn by snowplowing the pain in my legs seemed unbearable. Every time I stopped to check how much was left from that training slope, it felt like the valley just didn’t get any closer at all.
Then I finally made it down to the bottom. I stopped to look back on what I have done and also what I was about to redo.
The chance to quit
All these excuses burst up somewhere in the back of my mind.
“It seems so easy for everyone else. Why isn’t it easy for me?”
“Aren’t I too old for learning this?”
I wanted to quit and just sit in a hütte and have a warm goulash soup.
Luckily I remembered a saying that said “Everything is hard before it gets easy”
So I thought “To see if skiing’s for me or not, first I have to learn how to do it. And finding it hard at the beginning is part of the process.”
I committed myself for 10 rounds
So I decided to go for 10 more times. My plan was whether or not it would have gotten easier for the 10th time, I was going to have that goulash soup as a reward.
For the first 6 times, I felt no change. I got more and more exhausted. I got more and more frustrated. At the end of every round, I stopped for a second to consider that soup. But I reminded myself to my promise, even though deep down I didn’t think anything would change during the last four rounds.
So came the 7th round.
Then and there, something happened.
To this day I can’t tell why or how, but on the 7th round, the snowplow started to work. As I leaned left, I turned right. Then I leaned right and I turned left. Like it was just from the textbook.
A light smile crawled upon my face as I arrived at the ski lift to go back up.
By the 10th time I was completely exhausted, but also over the moon. Not only I kept myself to my promise, that made me proud, but I also gained a new skill that I was able to use… and enjoy using it.
Learning a new skill is seldom easy
Learning a new skill starts with facing your own limits. Then at every obstacle, you ask yourself whether it is worth it or not. So many excuses come up that of course, all seem to be valid. At that point, you are tempted to just quit.
My trick to keep going
If you want to make it till the end, then don’t make your decisions during the process.
Make your decision before you even make the first step.
I had so many tried and failed physical training and language learning attempts. All failed because I never had an initial commitment before even starting. I was destined to quit.
But then once I decided I was going to learn public speaking, I never had a second thought of “is it worth it?”. Of course, I was scared at times. Sure, I found excuses, but I never questioned the overall goal. During the year, when I was the President of the Budapest Toastmasters Club, I can count my absences of our weekly meetings on only one hand. All because I made my decision before signing up for the role.
My goal today
It is 2019 now.
At the beginning of January, I came up with a goal to build up at least 2 high-profile one-day training on small talk this year. I have it in my mind, on the wall above my desk and on the door of my bathroom cabinet. I’ve surrounded myself with the reminders of my commitment.
I have just been back from Tenerife, the Spring-All-Year-Around island. Now I can hardly bear the cold winter and the depressive mood that surrounds me when I get out to the city. Every moment I feel I want to go back to the great rocks of the Los Gigantes.
Yet, it is never a question to meet up with the Small Talk team at 7:30 in the cold morning. To go through with the daunting task of organizing the steps to achieving our yearly goal. This decision was made way before I got lazy over the 1-week vacation.
The long-term result is never a matter of momentary situation, but the matter of initial commitment.
So if you haven’t done it yet, then make a commitment today.
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