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Learning something new as an adult?

I’ve just stared skipping. A new challenge for 2013. Why? Because I’ve heard it’s good for running barefoot. It helps strengthen the feet and ankles. Something I’m in dire need of! I’ve also started some new stretching that I hope will help… but that’s another story…

Little did I know how hard it would be! It would seem my poor co-ordination as a child has morphed into terrible co-ordination as an adult! Indeed, first go on the weekend I could manage but 5 rotations. Then I gave it away. Too hard! Maybe skipping wasn’t for me?

Have you ever tried to take up something new? Running maybe? Swimming? Drawing? A language? Learn how to finally use Microsoft Excel for something more than pretty tables? As an adult it’s tough going! It all seems so overwhelming! Our initial reaction is – it’s just not for me. I’m no good at it. It doesn’t suit my body type, personality type, or lack there of of creativity. Excuses pile up and we quickly give it away as a bad joke. That’s how I felt instantly about skipping. I was no good at it when I was a kid anyway…

But that’s just it. As a kid we learnt new things on a daily basis. As children, our minds are quicker, more ready to absorb, and were much more determined. We can see other kids doing it. And our parents tell us to give it another go. Try again. Keep practising! When we fall off our bike, our parents are there, picking us off the ground and encouraging us to have another go. So why as adults are we so quick to ignore our own advice? Impatience? Fear of failure? Embarrassment? Perhaps a little of all of those things. It’s as though we’ve learnt to admit defeat before we’ve even given it a go. So many people tell me they’re not cut out for running. But how can that be? Humans were designed to walk on 2 legs. We have the in-built capability to walk fast. Hang on a minute, we’ve got all the mechanics we need to run. So why do so many people tell me they can’t run? Like me and skipping, we’ve forgotten how. And we’re too afraid of trying to learn again. It’s hard going and we don’t have the will to overcome the obstacles that invariably come up.

Next day, I returned to the garage, skipping rope in hand. I’d googled ‘rope length’ and worked out that I’d had it too short. I lengthened it. I skipped, and got 20. Still crap really. Bit better than the day before though!

I returned again the next day. I tried harder. I realised I was jumping twice, once over the rope and then for some unknown reason once while the rope was in the air. Seriously, such an unco! I slowed my jumping down. I did 40 in a row the next day. Then today, I managed 100 with a couple of stops when I tripped myself up. I’m terrible, but I’m getting better! I’m persevering…

Learning something new can be so rewarding, and such a journey. It’s invigorating and helps you stay young. I’ve found for me it unlocks that wide-eyed-wonder-view of the world. You know, that look in a child’s eye when everything is new and wonderous.

The secret of learning something new as an adult is to be patient with yourself. Don’t expect perfection right away. If something’s not working for you, don’t give up. Try and find a different way of doing it that will work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Even of its just from the google gods. And finally, be willing to fail, and just keep giving it a go. Eventually things will start falling into place…

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