Thoughts On Sunday: The Learning Curve Doubt Syndrome

Sunday, 5 October 2014

I have this terrible habit of doubting what I'm doing when I've just started doing it. For example, this past week, I've been constantly doubting my ability to grow and maintain this blog. I question what my overall aims are, if I'm a beauty blog or a lifestyle blog, what the point of it all is, if I'm not just adding to the thousands of blogs already out there. I forget that I'm doing this because I like writing, because I enjoy trying out new products and discovering new brands. I forget that I'm just starting out, that's it's normal not to know pretty much anything and that in due time I'll figure it out bit by bit and find my feet. 
I seem to think that despite the fact that I only started blogging a month ago, I should have it all figured out. And so the doubts of my ability to succeed start creeping in.

I like to call this the Learning Curve Doubt Syndrome, an emotional condition closely linked perfectionism and a lack of patience, which can be defined as wanting to be perfect, and wanting to be perfect right now and consequently doubting yourself when you realise you're not. If we imagine for a moment that perfection actually exists, most people will strive to attain it with the semi-realistic belief that it will take time and hard work to get there, and that the learning curve is a necessary step on the road to their idea of Perfect. Those us of us suffering from Learning Curve Doubt Syndrome? Well, we'll start questioning our ability to ever attain our goal within the first couple of weeks - if we get that far.

Why do we do this? Because the learning curve is hard. That's a fact. There are those who naturally enjoy hard work and get satisfaction of working through a hard puzzle, so they have no problem with the learning curve. It's just another exciting challenge. Then there are those of us who are not so naturally inclined to deal with the hard work that comes with accepting that you can't possibly be good at something from the outset. That you are going to make mistakes, that you are going to go through setbacks as you work it through and that it's going to take time, the length of which depends on individual skill and the steep of the learning curve ahead. 

So when we're confronted with this reality, we immediately begin to doubt ourselves. The end picture seems unattainable and we fixate on that instead of the journey that's ahead, that promises so much if we just give it a chance. With the Learning Curve Doubt, logic goes flying out of the window. I mean, logically, the idea that I can create, grow and maintain a blog that I am almost a hundred percent happy with and that I can run like it's second nature without any hiccups or mistakes within the space of a month is ridiculous.
You've probably heard of the Ten Thousand Hour Rule (or heard the Macklemore song inspired by it), an idea most associated with Malcolm Gladwell and his book 'Outliers: The Story of Success'. The idea is that those who are successful in their field owe their success to the  ten thousand hours they invested into the task. Though this theory has been criticised, the general premise of the idea remains solid: in order to be great at something you have to practise, you have to practise every day, and it has to be at the very least ten thousand hours of practise

And yet the Learning Curve Doubt ignores this rule entirely. I've maybe put in about twenty hours so far, and I expect to be an expert. I want the answers now. I doubt whether I'll ever seem to have it figured out like bloggers who are able to queue posts to cover absences or have captivating features and formulas that I grow to admire and love. I forget that they went through the same wobbly phase of finding their feet. In fact they're probably still trying to find their feet, but the one thing all successful blogs seem to have in common, whatever their content, is perseverance.
Actually, when you think about it, perseverance is the key to any form of success in whatever you want to do. It's not going to be easy, especially not in the beginning when the "Errr, is this right? Is there a right way - I can't remember - how do you even do this? Argh! What am I doing?" sets in, but so long as you enjoy it, you just keep doing it. You push past the Learning Curve Doubt, and instead of giving in and giving up, you keep going until you decide you want to stop. And then you move onto something else. 
Wouldn't it be great if things felt as simple in practise as they sound in theory? Ha.

All I know for sure is that I really enjoy blogging, and for now, that's all that really matters. I'm still not a hundred percent what my content is going to be, how to write regularly, how social media is going to come into the mix and keeping up with everything, but I'm sure I'll figure something out eventually. I just have to ignore the little voice in my head that spews doubt and get on with it. I still have another 9,980 hours to go before I can declare that I'm just no good at blogging.

For all my fellow suffers, bear this in mind when the doubt starts creeping:  
the Learning Curve Doubt Syndrome can be beaten and the way to beat it is perseverance.

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