A master is just a novice that kept practicing. A black belt is a white belt that continued to show up. A professional writer is a writer that started with penny stories. We all have to start somewhere. It’s important to remember this as you’re on your respective journey because there will undoubtedly be challenging moments.
When I first started Jiu Jitsu, I felt like an idiot. I had no idea what I was doing. I repeatedly told myself that black belts are white belts that didn’t quit. This helped keep me in the journey. Two years later, I am a blue belt that tells myself black belts are blue belts that didn’t quit. I’m one step closer.
Committing to learning something is essential for growth. I have a couple things I am focused on at the moment. For each one, I am a beginner. I acknowledge I don’t know much. But, I am committed to learning as much as possible so that I can eventually not be a beginner. Writing is included in this. I am not the best writer. I’ve been writing throughout my life but never consistently. I am now spending more time writing with the hope of improving. I’m reading much more as well.
It takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a master. I have roughly 250 hours of Jiu Jitsu. I am not close to being a master, but I am also no longer a novice. I am treating my writing in the same way. If I commit to writing and reading everyday, I will eventually get to my 10,000 hours. While that still may not put food on the table, it will get me one step closer.
If you’re considering quitting anything, keep this in mind. If you quit, you’ll never have the chance to be successful. By stopping you are removing any chance you had at getting to your goal. If you focus on each step of the journey and not the destination, you will one day arrive at the destination.
When you’re thinking about quitting, consider the following:
Are you finding enjoyment in your journey? Are you happy about the time you’ve put in and what you are getting out of it? If you aren’t happy, there’s no point in proceeding to the destination. Commitment to learn your art or activity must bring you enjoyment. If it doesn’t, it is not the right journey for you.
If you convince yourself you’re horrible at something, you’ll want to quit. By switching your mindset to focus on how good you are compared to the time you’ve spent, you’re attributing success to time. This change of thinking has done wonders for me. When I think of how horrible I did during Jiu Jitsu class, I tell myself that I have been in the martial art for 2 years, compared to my partners that have been there for 5. It makes a difference. You can’t expect to be good at something you just started.
Practicing a new skill over and over builds muscle memory which is essential for mastery. The reason for this is that repeated activity changes the brain. Myelin, a sheath in the brain, actually grows thicker with increased activity. This means that the more you practice something, the quicker your response time.
Has the hobby you’ve chosen helped you develop any relationships? Have you met new people as a result of what you’re learning? Have you felt similar to them because of your mutual focus on learning? These kinds of relationships help push us along in our journey. When you are surrounded by people who are focused on learning the same thing as you, you are building a community. The community will help you feel safe and secure as you reach your goal.
Have you learned more about yourself during your journey? Maybe you’ve learned that you are stronger than you thought. Maybe you’ve learned that you prefer something over the other. While learning, we often become aware of certain traits. I learned how compassionate I am while taking a training in leadership recently. While I’ve always known I feel empathy, I didn’t quite know how much of it is evident at work. I only discovered this through learning.
Think about the skill you’re learning and ask yourself if you’re getting any of the above out of it. If you are, don’t quit. You will be doing yourself a disservice. Keep learning and challenging yourself and as a result you’ll keep growing and improving. Growth will take you to the destination, you just have to have faith in the journey and keep going.