What is your best life advice? I was reading this article the other day that asks people their best life advice. You should actually give it a read because it’s really interesting what people give you as their life hack. It really got me thinking. Like properly fully thinking about what my life advice would be if someone were to ask. My answer would be: Learn. Learn everything you can about what you find interesting, and even then learn things you don’t know much about because you don’t realise how they relate to you and your life. However, don’t just learn; do.
You go through different periods in your life where sometimes you learn loads in a short time and then other times you learn the same amount in years. I remember when I finished University I felt like I learned so much within three months of graduating as I did the three years I spent there. Right now I am going through a BIG learning phase; I’m constantly learning new things about myself, life and photography. It’s exciting and exhilarating. And draining. In amongst the excitement I’m also hard on myself because sometimes I wonder how I couldn’t have known these things before. Why didn’t I know that thing I didn’t know that I didn’t know? Yeah, read it again. Right? Ridiculous. My Mum often says to me; you weren’t born with a chip in your brain knowing everything, you have to learn and experience. Everyone learns differently. But also in learning it’s important, as I stated above, that you do what you have learned. You only fully learn things by also doing them. Yeah you could watch a million Ted talks, Creative Live Tutorials, Youtube videos, even reading 99U articles and you absorb. You feel like you learn, but unless you do then you don’t. Not really. You need to do. And do again. Because the first time you do it will be difficult. Don’t let that stop you. Do it again. Fail again and you’ll get better. Whilst you’re at it you can take your learning further by thinking differently. Bring something more than just straight doing what you learned. You are learning for a reason. Bring YOU to what you are doing. It’s okay to follow, or copy, but only for a while whilst you are working things out. You NEED to break free of that and bring more to the equation. Period.
So the thing is that there will be times that you struggle with the learning. Things just get difficult and you feel like you can’t get past the hard parts and people give up here. You shouldn’t give up just because it’s hard. Ira Glass has this amazing quote that is helping me through my hard time right now.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you’re just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close this gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure this out than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s going to take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through”
Learning isn’t linear. I know what I have to do for me at this moment to keep improving. It’s this difficult process of doing, receiving constructive criticism, which can sting, then doing again differently. Sometimes that feels frustrating. I have ridiculously high expectations of myself. But keep going. In his Q&A book Zack Arias manages to also inspire me. He states:
“It is this sort of struggle that drives you. Get past your insecurities. Get over your fear. Fear is a cancer in your life. Go. Keep moving. You’ll finish the race. Finishing the race is a better goal than winning”
Everybody struggles. But keep learning, keep doing and keep trying. What’s your life advice?