The past year has been both challenging and rewarding. There were times when I couldn’t sleep because of excitement. Other times, it was because I couldn’t shake off the anxiety. Funny. Sometimes I couldn’t tell which one I was feeling!
Last year, I launched an e-commerce store. I’ve been meaning to start earlier but felt I needed to learn more. Work would need to be done for setting up, sourcing, marketing, SEO, payment processing, fulfilment, and taxation. It would be too cumbersome, I thought, but I started anyway.
I opened an Etsy shop. At first, I felt out of place. Did I have anything unique? Perhaps. Hand-made? Not sure. Vintage? Definitely not. It was going to be another platform, another thing to learn. It could be tiresome, I thought, but I opened a shop anyway.
I also learned about affiliate marketing. I’ve been hearing about it but thought it would be too much work. There’s research, writing content, and building credibility. I wasn’t sure if it would be worthwhile, but I studied it anyway and started writing.
At my day job, I became a Product Manager. I have lead projects before but as a designer, dealt with clients but only about design, and presented countless times but just to demonstrate my concepts. I have also managed deadlines, expectations, and resources, but only of my own. With more meetings, more responsibilities, and a lot of unknowns, I accepted the role anyway.
I ventured into Amazon, App Store, and other sites where I could sell online. “Why not? How hard could it be?”, I thought to myself.
I wish I could tell you how easy it was to start a new venture and be able to give you tips to make it easier. But no. Not yet, at least. Starting was hard and it took a lot of energy.
Looking back, I see now that the challenge was not that I was lazy (although I can be at times) or that I didn’t know what to do. My problem was that I was afraid to be a beginner again.
I’ve been a designer and employee for almost 10 years now. I’ve developed certain skills that make people see me as an expert, a master of some sort, or a relatively seasoned veteran. Weird flex, but ok? I can say that because people pay me to do what I do… and they pay well! The truth is I’m comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. I’m used to being relatively good at my craft and I’m afraid to do something that I know will be totally new to me. Imagine asking people to pay you to do something you know you are a beginner at? It’s terrifying!
Maybe you don’t feel the same way, but if you are like most experts or professionals, you too are afraid to be a beginner again.
It might be the reason why you’re stuck and can’t seem to move forward.
- you want to build a blog, but can’t start writing
- you want to start a youtube channel, but spend most of your time only researching about equipment or daydreaming about how cool it would be to be a vlogger
- you want to learn a new skill but end up comparing yourself to experts
- you want to create a business and get excited for a while, but that’s it — a cycle of desire, excitement, and eventually losing interest
It can be scary to start something totally new. Most experts tend to settle on what they’re good at and that’s not wrong, but it can be limiting.
Somehow as we progress in our craft or career, we forget what it feels like to be a beginner — to feel the anxiety of not knowing something and to be overwhelmed with excitement of learning something new. We think, ‘why grind learning something new again when you can stay comfortable with what’s already familiar?’
With many things being instant nowadays, it becomes all too easy to forget that the road to mastery takes time and being a beginner is part of the journey. Starting is hard. Yes. But the goal is not to make starting easy, but to take the first step. So:
- write and publish that first blog post – you’ll have a lot of time to edit and polish it later
- record, edit, and post that first youtube video – you can grow as your audience grows
- take a class, look for a mentor, connect with other professionals – many experts in their field are generous and would love to help
- in the beginning, focus on the action rather than results – actions, you can control; results, you can only influence
There are rewards to being an expert at something. But the things you gain, more importantly, who you become while on your way there will be even more rewarding!
To myself and to you: Do not be afraid to be a beginner.
What projects are you going to start this year?