It often seems like humans have a built-in fear of trying new things, meaning that we often need a little extra push to do things that we might want to do, but have never tried before. Add to this the mentality that if you can’t get the hang of something right away, then you’re never going to be able to do it, the need many people have to do things perfectly right from the start and the fear of making mistakes, especially in front of other people, and you have a set of characteristics that can be very life-limiting. This is because it means that people will be missing out on many opportunities in life because of the fear of doing something new, and you never know which opportunity will be the one that changes your life forever, leading to new experiences, friends, relationships, and even careers.
As a result, it’s important that we not only encourage children to try new things, but also to teach them that making mistakes is all part of the learning process and that no one is perfect at anything right from the start. It’s commonly said that it takes, on average, ten thousand hours of practice or experience to become an expert at something (although this is more a rule of thumb than a hard and fast rule). Yet, telling a child that it will take this long to become good at something can be more off-putting than it is reassuring. Instead, a better option is the thirty times rule. What’s this rule? Well, it takes doing something about thirty times for you to become sufficiently familiar with doing it that it becomes a habit, and it’s only with this level of familiarity that you can really decide whether you like doing something or not.
This is where this Ted Talk by Matt Cutts comes in. It’s titled Try Something New For Thirty Days, and it aims to encourage people to try new things that they’ve always wanted to do for thirty days in a row. This can be anything from writing a book or learning to play a musical instrument to changing an annoying habit, exercising more regularly or eating more healthily. The talk itself is just over three minutes long, but it’s a great way to introduce older children to the idea that they should always be trying new things, and trying them for sufficiently long enough to become familiar with them before deciding whether they like it and want to continue, or whether they don’t really like it after all, and would be happy to give it up.
Thirty days is also handily close to the length of a month, meaning that time can be measured by the things that have been tried and not just by the passing of time. After all, as Matt points out in his Ted Talk, being able to say ‘oh, that was the month I tried …‘ is a much more memorable way to mark the passing of time than ‘remember last September …‘ . So, children should be encouraged to get into the habit of trying something new each and every month, and doing it for the whole month rather than giving up on it after the first few goes because they weren’t perfect at it right away. If instilled in childhood, this habit will continue into adulthood and lead to adults who’ll always to looking to expand their knowledge and grow their skill sets, and that will make it much more likely that they will lead positive, happy and successful lives.
Of course, kids will need encouragement to take this life lesson to heart, and the best encouragement they can get will be if they see you, as an important adult in their life, trying new things as well. So, if you want to have the biggest impact, make this a family thing, and let your kids see you trying new things for thirty days on a regular basis rather than just encouraging them to do it. Not only will you be having a positive impact on your child’s life by teaching them an important life lesson, you’ll also be expanding your own knowledge and skills base – and that will have a positive impact on your life too.
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.