1. Keep reducing the goal until it's no longer scary. Instead of "learning X", maybe try "reading about X" or "try X for 10 min". Keep taking more off your plate until you feel that "I can do this" feeling.
2. When a fear pops up, respond to yourself with "I know". For example: "I might waste my time and never get good at X" -> "I know". If you repeat that process some contend that by giving your monkey brain (or flight response) attention and respect it starts to diminish. It just wants you to know how risky it thinks this activity is and can keep repeating or getting louder until you acknowledge that it's been heard.
For instance, my wife and I recently redid an entire small bathroom. I replaced wallboard, replaced toilet and cabinet and sink, and laid tile. I'd never done any of that before.
It was incredibly scary at first. But I finally said, "What's the worst that can happen?" We paid a plumber for the hard stuff like moving the shutoffs and replacing the cracked flange (my fault!) and did the rest ourselves.
The worst thing that could happen was that we damage something (which happened with the flange!) or that we decide we just can't do it to our satisfaction and have to pay someone.
The alternative was to just pay someone.
In the end, it was still scary, but it was the logical thing to do, and so I tried it.
It went very, very well. Except the flange.
If anyone needs help getting started or keeping going, that's exactly what my project Functional helps with:
I haven't tested in Firefox Focus though (haven't even heard of it), and I'm wondering if it might be because of overly tight security headers.
While I'm not a developer, I wanted to learn Python for various reasons. Instead of just learning ALL OF PYTHON, I broke it down to little projects, learning how to do those projects along the way. While still no expert, I can at least handle what I set out to do.
I'd also add immersion, if that's what you would call it. Not really related, but I used to never watch sports, up until the start of this NBA season. I subscribed to podcasts and newsletters and found some sites to read daily. In the beginning I probably knew 5-10% of what was being talked about. But after some months of this I can probably digest a good 70-80%.
Like, you might be getting into woodworking and see someone casually saying this, a real example I ran into earlier today:
"I built a jig to hold my boards down and run them over the stacked dado with the miter guide. Despite this, the cupping that some of the boards had made the cross cuts uneven. I opted for half lap joints because I've seen people do miter joints on this bed design before and they don't seem to hold up very well over time."
That's actually a self-proclaimed beginner talking about one of his first woodworking projects. When someone asked him how he learned all these words, he said "You can learn a lot from YouTube."
Indeed those concepts aren't advanced; a miter guide is just little gizmo that holds your plank at an angle, a half lap joint is just a particular way of gluing two planks together, etc.
But reading stuff that has unfamiliar vocabulary can be tiring, so keep an eye on that and make sure you look up the words you don't understand, maybe keeping a small lexicon in a text file.
1) You don't know shit
2) Learning requires patience and time
3) It's ok to take a step back and start from square one
I approach learning new programming languages, hardware design concepts and software design concepts very similar to how I might approach hiking through a forest, mountain, etc.
If I'm hiking i'm usually taking the most interesting scenic route I can take out of pure curiosity. This drives my interest as I'm hiking wondering what might I see around the bend or just over the next ridge. This part is crucial for me to keep going otherwise lost of interest is high and the end goal of getting to the top seems less rewarding.
The same concept should be applied to learning. There should be an elevating amount or sustainable amount of interest towards the end goal of learning something new. Each chapter of a book or functional line(s) of code that does something should excite you and elevate or at the very least sustain your level of interest.
I'm probably one of the weakest software engineers (or possibly was) at my company mostly because I'm a first generation college student and engineer out of my family. I grew up on a farm and ranch where most of these resources were limited. I've had to spend more time on improving my skills and learning new things than probably the vast majority of individuals in our software department have. This methodology I've mentioned above has done wonders for me and has shaped my character/personality to how I approach problems and learning new skills.
If this is not for work where you are accountable to others and instead this is for a personal project it becomes more difficult. If possible, work with someone on your side project because then you will be accountable to them like you would be on a team at work. If it's just yourself and you are taking the approach of "well it doesn't matter if I don't meet my made up deadline for myself", then things tend to never get done. I had this issue. When trying to balance side projects with life and family, the projects kept getting pushed. Once I had a business partner, I'm far more productive because I have a real reason to get stuff done - no one wants to fail the person they are in business with.
I have real problems understanding the question. Honestly.
The only way it could even remotely make sense to me is something like:
"Fear of failing to learn something that is required knowledge to save your (your) job/livelihood/life.
Case in point: am I "scared" of learning German? No, but I can think it will be too hard for the level of energy I will be able to put into studying it compared to the benefits.
So - at least in my case - the only "scaring" element would be "scared of wasting my time/money pursuing this".
This kind of feeling is EXTREMELY common, especially with engineers. You sound like you're over-indexing on logic and not really trying to understand how other people might think and feel. You might not get this now, but working on these other skills will make a bigger impact on your life and career than being a better programmer.
/another (ex-) consultant.
Maybe this is why I do not understand what the problem is, exactly?
I felt like this 10 years ago when I got a job as what we would now call an “Enterprise Developer” working in C# after being stuck in a bubble in the “expert beginner” phase bit twiddling in C and C++ and doing VB6 that was already out of date and I was working with people younger than I was who knew the latest tech and people my age who were already experience led architects.
It happened again two years ago, by then I was the dev lead who knew all of the best practices from a development side but didn’t understand infrastructure, high availability, scalability, dev ops, or modern cloud infrastructure.
I fumbled my way through that project thanks to Hashicorp’s Consul and Nomad, and self demoted to a senior dev at a smaller company where I could get hands on experience.
I’ve filled in a lot of those gaps now, but still I don’t know the $cool_kids back end tech like Docker and Kubernetes or a single modern front end framework.
So yeah, it’s frightening jumping into a new tech stack heads first where you need to be somewhat productive since you convinced the company to pay you slightly above market rate.
It's amazing how quickly you can learn something when you throw yourself into a situation where you just have to do it, or else.
Obviously you need to take care to ensure that your employers/colleagues will be supportive and understanding that you'll need some time to develop new skills. But you also want them to push you to raise your level to what you/they know you're capable of.
Most people have unfocused energy. They try to do too many things and never hit the boiling point on the harder things. Because they don't succeed, they start to lose confidence on attacking hard problems, and start to give up earlier.
You might be playing a game. It's easy to give up on them. Commit to a certain stage, maybe a level, a round, try out a build, or play until one defeat.
I'm reading a tough book. Instead of commiting to properly reading it, I've committed to highlighting major points in each chapter.
I tried to learn to use a breadmaker today. It's quite intimidating - the instructions are very precise, ingredients have to be collected, and there's a lot of unknowns. I committed to just doing one loaf of bread. It took me the whole morning's energy, it was quite pointless, and it failed. But I learned a lot and I'm glad I did it.
Want to learn to do mobile programming? Commit to it until you can do a to do app or something.
Want to learn a concept? Then do it until you learn and can repeat the concept.
Phrase it as a challenge, a puzzle to yourself, not something you have to do.
What I strongly don't recommend you do is to only commit a certain amount of minutes. It works for some, but often I see people stop before hitting that boiling point. It's actually incredibly fun to focus on something for a few days, just as long as it's not an endless treadmill.
Write them out. What are you afraid of? "I can't learn this." "This time I will be proven to be an impostor", "Everyone will think I'm stupid". "I'll be ridiculed." Sometimes just doing that helps.
There's a lot of critical thinking that fears don't hold up to. "Have I learned anything hard or new before?" "Was I ever ridiculed for being a novice at something?" "Will _everyone_ really think I'm stupid?" etc. Sometimes just analyzing the things your fear-based reactions are telling you is enough to dispel them, or at least make them less paralyzing.
Ask yourself "what if I knew everything would turn out fine here, and that I'll be a success. How would I act in that case?"
Stuff like that. Sometimes the technical problems are easier than the psychological ones.
I think the first step is easy, but continuing is hard. I think the most scary project I took on was being a very inexperienced home improvement person and decidiing to tear out our rock chimney, replace the whole wall and install a big window and create a new hearth with a wood burning stove. I had a week of vacation to do get the house at least back to livable.
I broke it down into parts or mini-milestones. Estimated what I would need and what I would do. I did research. I took the first step of removing the first stone of the chimney. Then the next stone. Then the wall. Then then next step.
I am not in ANY way affiliated with this site, I just read it often and the articles have helped me more than I can describe in words.
Keep restoring the original and repeat. Then start adding new functionality. Experiment. Break it. Play "what if". You can always restore and start over.
Before you know it, the mystery starts to fade and for some people, the fear does too.
Check out the book mindset by Dr Carol Dueck.
She walks a person thru recognizing where we have a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset. It was a refreshing read.
* "you've learned over 20 languages"
* "this won't be as annoying as brainfuck, Piet, or FRACTRAN"
* "you've absorbed the basics of analog circuit design, this digital crap is gonna be easy"
* my coworker whose FPGA board I'm using tells me "just get to a point where you can turn on an LED with a switch and it's downhill from there"
* I tell myself, "your algorithm is a series of interconnected state machines. Figure out how to make a state machine and it's downhill from there"
Assuming you're studying alone, so it's not fear based on māna (comparing yourself to others without taking in the back story of all parties being compared):
Generic fear is recognition of the unknown. Recognizing when there is something to learn is a beneficial skill to learn. Recognizing this is how fear works, the emotional response ceases its control when the logical mind understands what is going on and how to deal with this unknown; learning is an opportunity for a reward.
Learning is pattern matching our previous understanding (neighboring concepts) with a new idea. (And understanding the story of how that concept came to be, and what its intention is eg, leading to how it is used and in what situations.)
When one is learning a concept within a subject matter they are already familiar with, there are a lot of similar concepts, making the learning easy or effortless. However, when it is a new subject matter, especially if it is an atomic concept with its only neighboring understanding comes from isomorphic concepts that exist in other domains, it can take a bit more work to really "get it".
A trick I employ when learning is I forget time. I forget any goals. If I'm learning a thing so I can solve an issue in a issue tracker, then I will feel pressured on time. But the harder or more foreign the subject is that needs to be learned, the slower one needs to go to really get it.
If I am okay taking a day or even days pondering a new idea with the patience of learning the concept for it itself, then the learning process will be enjoyable instead of stressful.
If you have "all the time in the world" to learn, then it becomes easy to recursively dive depth-first into the concept and it's prerequisite concepts, as well as its neighboring concepts. Instead of learning a single concept, why not learn an ecosystem of concepts? This will help one retain what they've learned, make what they learn far more useful than learning a single stand alone idea, and it makes it easier to learn more of that topic. Once the first 2-4+ concepts in a domain are learned, learning anything else within that world becomes a cake walk.
I like that there's a word for this :) Which language is this from?
The book is fairly well researched, draws from credible academic sources and breaks down the "genius" construct fairly well. It left me knowing that any new subject or skill is approachable to anyone and everyone, as long as they are prepared to put in the time, and effort and an effective feedback loop in there.
Another suggestion is to actually write down and articulate the specific issues you're facing. I find that the act of writing helps me make sense of thoughts - much more so than simply thinking about my thoughts.
Although I find I'm better at execution than planning so I like the mantra "just do it".
If it does not have something to do with a deadline, then I would suggest just pursue the new language, concept, etc. like you would something you are naturally curious about. If you are a fan of a certain science fiction universe, it is not scary to try and learn something new about that universe, because you will be naturally curious about it and be focusing on the joy of learning new information about the universe. Treat whatever you are trying to learn like that by finding ways to get naturally curious about the new subject.
I suspect you don't have a fear of learning, but a fear of how people might perceive you during the phase of learning? Don't get me wrong, I also struggle with "perception fear", just in different areas of life. I'm also working on overcoming that.
Here's my 2 cents that's worth less than 2 cents.
Face your fear head on. Instead of beating yourself up for mistakes, remind yourself that making mistakes is natural. Adjust and try again.
Hope you break out of this fear because it's a mindset. Most fears are bullshit. Learning won't kill you, people judging you along the way won't kill you.
Enjoy yourself and go easy on yourself.
Want to build an entire website, with authentication, payments, dynamic interfaces, real time notifications? Learn HTML by putting your resume on the web. Then take that knowledge, and build something that takes a basic form, and maybe saves to a database. Then you take that, and build something that takes that user input, and thanks them by email. Onward and so forth.
Going from 0 to 100 for someone that hasn't done all of these little projects over the years, is way too daunting and unrealistic.
The minute you start thinking "oh no the subjects so big, where do I start", you start tying yourself up in mental knots.
Also, have another subject, so when you get fed up, you can take a break and switch subject (maybe forever). You can "find your spot" like that.
To learn is to live!
For example, there is no stage fright. It's stage excitement. All those feelings some people get before speaking in front of a large crowd? That's all excitement. Wow, I'm looking forwards to this! This is going to be great! Surprisingly effective. Apply the same self-psychology here.
Being excited about it makes more sense; maybe it really is excitement you're feeling. Easy to confuse the two.
It's not enough to "crawl before you walk before you run". It's important to feel good about successfully crawling, even if one is accustomed to running marathons in another context.
knowing what you're doing really means having the patience to make a subplan, trying to execute it carefully, seeing how well you did and repeating the process.
initially that might take several days and be painful. it will get faster over time, but you have to learn to let the work steer you, and to put it aside when you no longer have the focus or stamina. that internalization, regardless any any of the particular skills you may pick up along the way, is what makes you a practitioner rather than a hack.
Maybe what you have is a fear of committing to learning something hard or new? Something with a deadline, that you'll be judged on at some point?
My advice is to ask questions and read up. You can ask trusted advisors/friends what to read up on before asking questions to the scary folks (who are usually not that scary anyway).
A few benefits to this:
- The power of habit can be an impetus to overcome the initial fear.
- The knowledge that you did it just yesterday, and it wasn't so bad.
- Learning gets solidified overnight, and often things are easier the next day.
- And then just doing something every day means it gets a lot of repetitions.
"I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."
― William Faulkner
Improvement = Consistency + Effort
If you consistently put in effort, you will improve. Improvement over time becomes success.
If you just keep consistently showing up and trying your best, eventually you will get very good at anything. On a long-enough timescale that is a certainty. There is no reason to fear the new.
Maybe my advise isn't so good but i like to buy new pens and have some sweet stuff like chocolate. If i pass first hard part i can encourage myself with a bar of chocolate.
For instance, I wanted to start working with Lazarus (A FreePascal IDE with WYSIWYG GUI designer) so I used it to throw together some simple GUI launchers for a portable LAN gaming pack I put together.
Helps in all fear based situations.
That also means you get better at understanding how you learn, and prioritizing what to learn as there is just to much!
Baron von Hilton went bankrupt numerous times before founding Hilton Hotels. Failure is how we learn. It’s the main ingredient in “experience”.
It’s also a way to find your own path. I tried Angular. It just didn’t click for me. I tried React. At first I didn’t like the idea of JSX. Then everything clicked. I might have never tried it had I not failed with Angular first.
Like, I wanted to do kernel development for years and couldn't get into it, and then suddenly I had a job with buggy kernel drivers that needed to be fixed and it was surprisingly easy. Fear wasn't holding me back, but not having identified a realistic small project in the area that I was motivated by was.
When I encounter uncertainty or doubt, I have a bad habit of distracting myself so I don't have to think about it. I have learned to catch myself doing this, stop distracting myself, and continue to press on.
If something isn't working after trying and trying, it can be really frustrating. But instead of thinking about how stupid the thing is that I'm trying to make work, or why it was designed this way, or whatever, I have learned to just keep trying. Maybe I'm even correct that the thing is poorly designed or whatever- but it doesn't matter, just keep going.
This is not easy- but the upside is that it is simple. You just have to remember to keep going. Again, not easy, but also extremely uncomplicated, no?
If you're anything like me, you can be very thoughtful, but that can manifest as constant thinking about "what ifs", which honestly doesn't help anything. Make your head like a rock. Just keep going. Everything besides "keep going" is a distraction. So just keep going.