I’ve been drawing everyday and working on a YouTube channel about my journey for just over three months now. I’ve learned a lot during this project so far. I’m a lot more confident in my drawing and video-making. Here are five major observations I’ve made about new endeavors.
1. You always start new endeavors with applicable skills.
You always know something that will be useful. We build up knowledge and none of it stands alone. This means that, with enough time and dedication, anyone can learn to do anything (assuming no physical or health barrier).
Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll be great. Yet, if greatness is your goal you probably need to check your priorities. Greatness is determined by the world, not you. It’s timing and relevance at the perfect moment. You have little control over that.
But you can become proficient at pretty much anything. Which means you can find some use for those skills. Which brings me to the second point.
2. You always end new endeavors with new applicable skills.
Any skill you develop can be used in future endeavors. If you learn to make videos and draw, for example, there’s a million ways you can apply those skills. You can use them internally at a company just for improved communication or you can get into marketing, filmmaking, design, etc. Your imagination is your only limit of how you can apply new skills.
When I started this project I didn’t know if I’d get anything useful out of it. Now I know there’s no way I won’t get anything useful out of it. As long as I keep learning, it can be used elsewhere.
I love the idea of being an enabler but the reality is no-one may ever see my content. Or, my content may be mediocre for too long and I’ll have to move on. So I may never succeed at that but my skills will find new life elsewhere if that happens.
Everything you learn contributes to your larger understanding and view of the world. The brain is really good at this. If you’re paying attention and connecting your learning to your world you will find applicable lessons.
3. Identifying and facing fears is a critical development skill.
Humans are loaded with fear. It’s one of our basic instincts. It’s impossible to get rid of fear completely.
Some of these fears are rational, like being afraid of car accidents because they’re so common. Others are irrational, like being afraid of putting your face in a YouTube video. Even a rational fear can become irrational if your reaction to the fear goes too far, like totally avoiding cars out of fear of an accident.
Our irrational fears chain us down. Identifying them and breaking them is an essential self-development skill. Sometimes it’s hard to identify them. It requires internal honesty and reflection. Once you identify these fears, you may need to actually face them directly, like talking to a camera and putting it on YouTube.
This is the kind of thing people mean when they say you should push yourself out of your comfort zone. You identify irrational fears that are chaining you down and you do the thing you’re afraid of.
4. Control over your beliefs is a critical development skill.
Motivation is all about believing the right things and setting your priorities straight to get yourself moving forward.
It’s easy to think that anything you do will fail. Odds are, it’ll fail to some degree. But we learn through failure and so we need to fail. Choosing to see that and believe it lets you start moving forward. It’s hard to convince yourself that failures, especially big ones, can be good. They feel so bad.
Success is a gauntlet of unending, but usually shrinking, failures.
There’re so many ways that your beliefs can lead you astray. For example, believing that success is based on luck can imply that you can just do enough to get by, hang out and wait, and success might just magically find you. Any luck involved in success requires being present for it to strike.
You have to actually put in work, get through the failures, and then the size of your success might be determined by luck. I have a range of success metrics for this project, the basic ones are all learning goals that are totally within my control. While I’ll hit many failures getting there, in the end I’ll succeed. As for making any money, that’s a slightly different story.
Another example is believing that success is determined by talent. Much like luck, believing in talent means you have little to no control over your success. It’s just self-defeating and for many things is flat out untrue. "Talent" is usually the result of months or years of unseen hard work.
5. Freedom to play is critical to development.
If you don’t or can’t take the time to explore what you enjoy you may never find out. You need to give yourself the freedom to explore and play with different directions.
Along with fearlessness and open-mindedness, freedom comes in the form time and money. I know it sucks to say that having money and time is a critical component of development but this is part of how the rich tend to get richer. Money gives you access to time and opportunities that you otherwise might not get. (Somewhat political aside: This is part of why I believe in some form of basic income.)
In the back of my mind, I’ve wanted to learn to draw and paint since before college. But while trapped in the treadmill of college and then work I never felt free enough to explore this desire. After becoming a stay-at-home father, I was able to dive right in.
I arguably had more time while working but it didn’t feel like it. I was stuck in a rat wheel of going to work, hating my job, then coming home and looking for a quick escape. That escape was usually Netflix or video games.
So I could have learned but I didn’t see it as a direction that I could go. There’s “no money in it” and I didn’t see how it would help my career. These are mental cages, not real ones.
I hope this gives you some insights that’ll help you consider new directions and freedoms for yourself.