2018 was punctuated with beginner moments—those sometimes awkward, stomach swirling, sweaty moments when you feel naked outside your comfort zone because you don’t really know what you’re doing BUT you’ve mustered up the courage to show up, in spite of the fear bubbling inside you.
It’s in those stiuations that you need to applaud yourself and let the childlike excitement of trying something new squash the urge to take flight.
As I reflect on the year that’s been, whether it was starting yoga, navigating new business territory, learning salsa dancing or processing foreign emotions in therapy, the personal growth I experienced along the way was certainly worth the initial discomfort.
Maybe being a beginner doesn’t phase you at all.
Maybe it excites you, thrills you even. Maybe you’ve already written a long list of NEW things you want to try in 2019.
If that’s the case, AWESOME, but for those who haven’t yet embraced the magic of new beginnings, here are plenty of reasons to love being a beginner in 2019 and beyond.
We tend to default to what we know. It’s cozy, comfortable and reassuring. I’m not going to lie—I love knowing the answers and feeling like an “expert”. I used to hate situations that made me feel “dumb” or “inferior” because the conversation topic was foreign to me.
Instead of stepping into the beginner mindset, I was more focused on exiting that space ASAP and gravitating towards something more familiar.
Clearly, I was ignorant of the benefits that come from being the student.
When you consciously check-in as a student and embrace more openness with regards to your judgments, you automatically leave your ego at the door.
It becomes less about trying to impress and project a particular image, and more about listening and observing intently.
This willingness to learn and grow not only makes you a more active listener and increases your level of awareness, it expands the pool of opportunities available to you.
When you’re able to exercise humility and recognise that it’s an asset for self-improvement, the frustrations and setbacks you experience as a beginner are more likely to be viewed as necessary learning curves. Cultivating this perspective is so damn liberating.
The beginner’s mindset invites you to experience life in a way that isn’t tarnished by the past or preconceived ideas.
When you cultivate it, you free yourself from your incredibly high expectations, open up your mind and ultimately recapture the excitement and anticipation that new experiences generally bring.
Shedding expectations and replacing it with untainted enthusiasm, curiosity and playfulness is a refreshing way to relieve yourself from unwarranted stress (of the unknown) and avoid jumping to conclusions which many of us are very skilled at.
Think back to the last time you tried something new or did something outside your comfort zone, like snowboarding or giving a big speech. Chances are, the hormones coursing through your body were keeping you wide awake, in the present moment.
In contrast, engaging in the same, repetitive tasks can put you on autopilot mode.
Last month, Tom and I took up salsa dancing—it was on my 2018 bucket list—and it’s definitely been one of my biggest highlights this year.
Each class went for about 90 minutes and it was such an immersive experience. I was having so much fun learning the steps and grooving to the music that I wasn’t preoccupied with past or future thoughts.
I was right there, in the moment, learning the steps and dancing with people I hadn’t even met before.
The beginner mindset keeps you alert and present, encouraging you to explore each moment with a greater sense of awareness and curiosity.
You simply cannot put a price on the freedom that comes from relaxing the parts of your brain that are constantly churning out reflections and future thoughts.
Many of us want to skip to end—to the grand finale when we know exactly what we’re doing and we’ve reached a certain level of confidence.
Probably because it’s comfortable and fear has dissipated thanks to the injection of confidence.
The thing is, when you embrace the beginner mindset and choose to explore what is outside your comfort zone, you’re effectively preparing yourself for life changes that force you out of it.
It’s through those seemingly uncomfortable situations that you cultivate patience, compassion and learn how to relax in moments of uncertainty. It’s basically a simulation for handling unexpected challenges.
Give yourself permission to be a beginner and approach things with an open mind. Feed the childlike curiosity that lives within you, because it’s such a liberating experience that breeds endless possibilities and keeps life hella exciting.