emotions and learning.

Learning feels great again. I learnt some basic UX Design skills, how to use Figma, and how to program with Vue.js. I even had a learning project and was able to build the first prototype of my digital bullet journal — dibujo. I even have a learning system in place which I enjoy using. So learning feels great — I thought.

Lately, I again fell into old patterns and started struggling again with learning.

The next step in my learning project is to connect the prototype to a database so that actual notes and to-dos can be saved, updated, or deleted. But I started procrastinating again. I came up with excuses not to learn.

I had to learn a new set of skills and it appeared like a big obstacle in my mind. I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

I once again recognized how important emotions are for learning. If you want to learn properly, you have to take emotions into account. For me at least it seems like there are three emotions I struggle the most with:

Anxiety.

Motivation.

Confidence.

We need strategies to manage our anxiety, build motivation, and be more confident and less judgemental. The two strategies that help me the most and also helped me this time are: reflect on reasons and just start.

Reflect on reasons.

Before I start planning my learning, I sit down and write down 2–4 reasons why I want to learn this specific topic or skill. The reasons should be love- as well as fear-based. For example, “I want to learn this because I’m curious about design.” or “I want to learn this because I don’t want to miss the opportunity to build my own product.”. Writing down reasons helps you refine your intentions.

The reasons also make you more aware and alert which is also important for learning. Since your brain doesn’t distinguish between love- and fear-based reasons, it is a good idea to have both. You never know which one will trigger your brain and boost your awareness and motivation.

Just start.

Often we build up this massive obstacle in our head. Learning the topic or a new skill just seems impossible. Because of this, our anxiety increases, our confidence decreases, and we start procrastinating.

Common advice to break this cycle of making learning a bigger and bigger obstacle — and advice that also helped me — is to just start simple.

Either just start for one minute or break your learning down into tiny steps which you can take now. Once started, you will learn for more than one minute. Once started, you will learn more than one tiny step. Just starting helps to reduce anxiety, it makes you more confident, and you build motivation and energy as you go. Most of the time, the beginning is the scariest part.

Don’t ignore your emotions.

Don’t ignore your emotions. They play an important role in your learning. Feel free to try the strategies above if you also struggle with anxiety, motivation, and confidence.

What strategies do you use to actively make use of your emotions and deal with anxiety?

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