Documenting my life

Tag: beginner

On being a beginner – advice by Brené Brown

I recently started a new project, which uses a tool I have never used before. It was interesting to notice how I deal with new things, learning to do something for the first time, and how I respond to challenges and roadblocks.

I am usually a very determined person and I have a growth mindset, i.e. I believe things can be improved and I can learn and change my behaviour.

However, I found myself struggling when I felt like I didn’t have a clear path ahead of me.

This is what I did:

  • I reminded myself of other times when I was a beginner and how I was actually praised on multiple occasions for being a fast learner
  • I took a step back and defined the steps I needed to take. This includes searching for information and educating myself online
  • I identified two people I could reach out to and ask questions to

Having a plan is useful because it means you know what you need to do. Any task can be broken down into small and relatively easy steps, so you should not feel overwhelmed.

In the moment it can feel like something is really tough and difficult to manage, but it’s key to remind ourselves that starting something new means the initial learning curve will be steep and that this is normal.

This situation and the frustration I felt reminded me of a podcast episode by Brené Brown, in which she discusses the topic and calls this type of situation an FFT, i.e. a F****** First Time.

Brené Brown is a research and expert on vulnerability. She defines it as uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure. Being new at something is the epitomy of vulnerability. The only way to get to the other side is to push through.

New is hard and we don’t like the discomfort. […] Sometimes we get so afraid of the vulnerability that we actually stop trying or doing anything that we’re not already good at doing.

When we just give up being new and awkward, we stop growing. And we stop growing, we stop living.

The more we’re willing to embrace the suck, and try new things, the more new things we’re willing to try.

And it’s not because being new gets comfortable, it’s because we learn how to normalize discomfort.

Knowing we have the strenght to survive those [though] moments […] is how we get braver.

She advises to do the following:

Name it and understand it. Recognize you are in an FFT. Discuss the situation with someone you are close with and acknowledge your feelings of disappointment and fear. “When we name and own hard things it gives us power, to effect change and achieve purpose

Naming your FFT allows you to do these three things:

  • Normalize the situation. Knowing this is exaclty what it’s supposed to feel like, it’s something that we haven’t done before. We don’t have previous experience to draw on, so it will be difficult and scary.
  • Put it into perspective. It will feel like it’s ok to struggle, since you are doing something new and that’s just how it is. The important thing is to know it will get better with practice and that some time in the future we will look back and think of how much progress we have made.
  • Reality Check expectations. With yourself and others. I am generally quite optimistic and tend to underestimate the time and effort required to do something. And actually, when you are doing something new, there is no way of knowing how much time it will take you to complete a task, of course. And since we might be very good in similar aspects of our lives, we tend to underestimate the effort for something new. Know that it will take time, that you will do many mistakes. Ask questions if you can, take notes and try and not repeat the same errors. Remind yourself that it’s normal for this to take a lot of time and that you will feel stuck multiple times

It’s very encouraging to think about this and to know that although being a beginner is tough, it’s the best way to learn and improve and that I will make progress and the discomfort will end.

Why I think the most common advice for beginners makes sense

The most common advice for beginners is “quantity over quality”. The important thing to do at the beginning is to focus on sharing many new articles, rather than working on a draft for a month, trying to make it perfect.

Not because of laziness or lack of willingness to put a lot of effort into each post. On the contrary, publishing more posts arguably requires more hard work, given that you have to come up with more ideas, go through the manual process of finding a title, adding a nice image, and other things that go along with hitting “publish”.

Why focus on quantity?

The best way to improve is through practice. You can spend hours researching different topics and how to guides, but it’s only when you actually do the thing that you are confronted with problems to solve, things that need to be improved and questions you didn’t know you had.

So, we want to focus on practicing as much as possible.

white space

Publishing imperfect posts can feel really scary.

But hear me out!

Especially if you are a perfectionist, here are my thoughts on the topic and what made me decide to hit “publish” sooner rather than later.

white space

What does not liking something mean?

The good thing about recognizing that something you made is not as good as you wished, means you have an idea of what you would like. You can see that there is a difference between where you want to be and where you are. That is normal and it’s a good sign! It means you can appreciate the nuances and recognize what your ideal is.

Now, knowing something isn’t perfect does definitely not mean being able to also know exactly what needs to be done to get there and have the technical ability to do so in a brief amount of time.

POV: give yourself many chances and document the progress you make

The less spoken power of creating often is that doing “the thing” every day or every week means you will have another chance tomorrow or next week. So there is less pressure for each one to be a masterpiece (or any, really).

If one post has a typo or is unclear? I get to post another one next week, where I can show my progress! If I were to post every four months, it would make sense to expect a top-notch, extremely well-produced and polished post with tens of academic articles as references. If I post every week? Everyone will see the progress and I will know I have made improvements over time, simply by looking back at the history of published posts.

Nobody instantly knows how to do everything, and I think there is value in doing things, analysing where they could be improved and working on that. By posting often you get to showcase your progress.


On top of getting in the reps necessary to improve, another advantage is that it allows you to build a larger “bank” of posts, forcing you to come up with different ideas, topics and you will become more creative and experiment in many different ways.

This will give you a larger sample to be able to know in which direction to move forward: what did you like the most? What drove the more interesting comments? With which post did you learn more new things? Which topic was more fun to write about? It’s only by having tested out different things that you can collect enough data to make a decision.

Not everything is set in stone

Also, an important thing to remember: in most cases, there is the possibility to go back to something and correct it or edit it. In a blog, of course. But in many other life situations. Even in professional environments, sometimes more than one “final” version is shared if there is an update or correction needed. In this case, I think that by documenting the process and sharing the imperfect results you will learn faster and improve even more.


This is why “quantity over quality” makes sense to me as the top advice for beginners, especially because it gives you the chance to learn by practicing hands-on.

In my case, I am aware that I am a beginner and that my knowledge/skills are limited. So, I will try my best to make all my posts as good as I can, but I will draw the line and aim for one post per week. This means that I will “have” to publish even if I am not 100% satisfied with the results. As I mentioned in my previous post, this blog is a challenge for me and a way to learn more, so constructive feedback is welcome!

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