Do you want to be even more successful? Learn to love learning and growth. The more effort you put into improving your skills, the bigger the payoff you will get. Realize that things will be hard at first, but the rewards will be worth it.

We are reminded that almost everything worthwhile in our lives is hard at first. Learning to walk was hard at first, but gradually we learned, and now is effortless. The same holds for our more advanced skills such as sports, music, art, etc. We forget these past struggles to learn and take them for granted now. When most people begin to try something for the first time, it usually doesn’t turn out particularly well. It doesn’t mean we are bad, stupid, or anything like that, it just means that most things of any complexity take a while to learn.

Given this, the surprising thing is how most people react when they begin to learn a new skill, and it does not go well. Most people at that point feel such things as surprise, anger, and frustration. We forget that the expression “beginners luck” means that doing something well at first is a fluke. We forget it isn’t supposed to be easy; it is almost against the laws of nature for something to be good at first.

So what is a more positive way to handle the difficulties we will encounter when we are learning something new? We should take the attitude that we are supposed to fail at first, that is the way the system works. We should look for a way to find fascination with the process and build enjoyment of the ups and downs of the process. We need to recognize the difficulties and make them into the time and effort we plan on expanding on the project. This is one place in your life where a healthy dose of pessimism will pay off. Just planning for difficulty will take much of the negative emotions we feel in these situations away.

Let’s look at another situation where we encounter difficulty at first. Almost anything involving change is hard for us to incorporate into our lives at first. One of my favorite expressions regarding change is, “the only kind of change we like is the change in our pocket.” Deciding to change is easy, it is just a decision. Staying changed is hard. We want to fall back to our old ways; we are discouraged, uncomfortable, and so on. Once again, we are learning something new, and it helps build this into our plan for change.

In addition to learning to enjoy the process as above, we can add another element to help us through learning something new or the change process. We can keep reviewing the goal we seek, the payoff, etc., and continually tell ourselves that the pain is temporary, but the payoff is permanent. We need to take the pain and frustration and deal with it minute by minute, telling ourselves to hang on, hang on, we can make it. Life is a series of minutes we can make it through.

People use visualization techniques to help them learn a new skill or deal with change. They “daydream” or use guided imagery to see themselves going through the process of learning or change and attaining the goal. A person on a diet can see himself f becoming thinner and thinner, easing the pain and giving them the sense they can do it. The same with a new skill such as golf. They see themselves hitting the ball in just the right way, and they see the golf ball going right where they want it. A word of caution regarding using visualization to learn a new skill. The technique is very, very powerful, and you will tend to perform exactly as you visualized it. So, if you visualize the wrong technique, chances are you will perform the wrong technique. So be very sure of the proper technique before you use visualization to help you master it.

One last point. I have stressed the need to recognize that new things will be hard to learn at first. While this “negative” view is helpful, it must be balanced with a positive outlook for the whole project. Plan and expect problems at first, but also plan and expect that you will eventually master the situation. Planning for a positive outcome will help give you the willpower to see the situation through and enable things that are needed to move you ahead to appear when they are needed. Remember, if we expect good things, we tend to get good things.