I’m certain there are people who get absolutely giddy when presented with a new technological challenge. I’m not one of them.
Last week I took on a slew of technology challenges, including a new and NOT intuitive database (are they ever intuitive?), a new iPod, a new phone, and new productivity software. There were other hurdles, too, but to list any more would just be whining.
As a result of my hellish week, I had an insight that might be useful to you. Here it is: new stuff brings with it six stages of emotion. We tell ourselves specific stories at each stage. Here are mine.
Stage 1: Fear. “I just don’t feel like dealing with this today. I’ll do it tomorrow.” Of course, I reached the point where I had to deal with it, afraid or not.
Stage 2: Frustration. “I hate this thing. I’m never going to learn it. What was I thinking?” Pouting and swearing ensue.
Stage 3: Resignation. “OK, you’ve got to get hold of this. You have to learn this stuff, so you might as well stop delaying, complaining, and stomping around. Trudge on.” At this point, most of the negative emotion gave up and moved out. It’s here that I was able to start learning, because I had gotten out of my own way.
Stage 4: Mild interest. “Oh, hey, look! I did it! I figured out how to do that thing I couldn’t figure out yesterday. Cool!” Now, I was getting somewhere, picking up speed, learning more, learning faster. A few small successes gave me the mental energy to keep going, to try to learn one more new thing.
Stage 5: Curiosity. “Hmmm. I wonder if I can do this.” That’s where I am this week, feeling just confident enough to poke around and see what I can do with these new technological wonders.
Stage 6: Confidence. I have no idea what thoughts fill this stage, because I'm not there yet. But I can feel myself reaching it, little by little.
The trick, I think, is to recognize the stage you’re in as you’re moving through it. If you know you’re in a certain stage, you know there’s another stage coming right after it. Just keep pressing forward, secure in the knowledge that learning is a process, that the unknown becomes the known, that new eventually becomes old. Ultimately, you will experience that sense of satisfaction that comes from meeting --- and maybe even mastering -- a new challenge.
Like my business card says, You can do this.