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Reducing Your Learning Curve

Nothing creates more stress for me than having to learn something in the world of technology. As my daughter has lovingly said, Mom, I think you were born missing the technical gene. I couldn’t agree more. Yet in order for me to continue writing, blogging and sharing my love of God, people and ways to create a meaningful and happy life, working with my computer and cyberspace is a necessity I cannot ignore.

I admire people who can sit down, experiment with the computer and learn to do all the wonderful things it has to offer. I am not one of those people. Recognizing and accepting that has been the first step in reducing stress levels and adjusting my learning curve to one I can handle.

So how have I met this huge learning curve?

First, I not only acknowledge and accept my limitations in this area, but am comfortable in that knowledge. I don’t have to compare myself with others. Understanding technology is simply not part of my persona and never will be. Instead, I can maximize my strengths while improving in those areas that are more challenging.

Second, what is the minimum I need to know in order to do my work? I need to have step by step instructions and the ability to apply it. I need enough understanding and knowledge of terminology and language to converse with a mentor or teacher. That has been frustrating because new terminology is introduced every day. I continue to stick to the basics and learn the rest a little at a time.

Third, I know too much while knowing too little. Most computer self-help books are either too elemental or too advanced. A lot of what I already use is without full understanding of terminology and vocabulary. Because of this, traditional classes do not work for me. I budget time and money to hire a mentor to help me. On my own, I get self-help computer books and gradually learn the basic terminology so I can ask the questions I need to ask for assistance.

Fourth, breaking down any new learning into small steps and chunks of information is important. As a former teacher and facilitator of many groups, I am aware of the importance of application of knowledge to facilitate learning. No matter how busy, I challenge myself to learning something new every week in this area.

Fifth, I grace myself time to learn. I don’t even try to keep up with the fast, mad pace of technology. I work at a pace I can handle which reduces stress levels. Understanding how you learn is also important. I am very visual and tactile. So I save time, money and energy by hiring a mentor to help me.

We are each challenged with learning that might be difficult but necessary. For me it was technology. Yours may involve learning how to communicate more effectively, creating a happier marriage, applying good parenting skills, learning how to budget and care for your finances, etc.

No matter what the area of learning, the same principles apply:

• Acknowledge, accept your strengths and weaknesses. This is not limiting. It enables you to brainstorm and come up with alternative options and solutions. Resist comparisons to others.

• Define specifically what you need to learn. Create a plan of action that works for you. What is your learning style? What do you need in time and finances? What can you learn on your own – what do you need assistance for.

• Recognize that it takes time to learn and apply that learning. Adopt an “I can do” attitude and perseverance. Stick to your plan of action.

There are so many things we can accomplish with an appropriate attitude, determination and the willingness to apply self-regulation and discipline.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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