I compare it to learning how to upholster a wing-back chair by reading instructions in Portuguese.
Everyday, I have to complete difficult tasks that I have never attempted before, and I have to do them in a language I have never studied.
ReCAPTCHA. Pixel code. Permalink. Anchor text. Bounce. Conversion. Backlinks. Plug-ins. Funnel. And my favorites - the acronyms: CMS. DNS. GIF. VR. LET. AR. SEM (not to be confused with SEO).
My learning curve has been steep - a friend of mine would more aptly call it a "learning cliff." Running REC Retreats demands that I take on tasks that I have never, ever had to consider before now, and I am learning at a very rapid rate. The good news? I am safeguarding my brain and postponing age-related dementia. How?
Learning a new skill strengthens the connections between areas of our brains. Cognitive psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman, explains that popular brain games are limited in that they improve certain aspects of short-term memory, but learning a challenging new activity strengthens entire neural networks.
Back to MY brain ...
Recently, my brain has been power-lifting. My neural connections are beefing up and building muscle. They are growing strong. How? I am learning at an unprecedented rate.
- I was a public school teacher ... how would I know anything about marketing a small business? (I had a full class of "customers" every fall, whether I advertised my services or not!) I'm taking marketing classes, talking to experts, and reading articles. I'm definitely learning.
- The closest thing I have ever come to designing and sending out newsletters is the annual-family-holiday-letter that would be on-time some years, late others, and yes, missing altogether occasionally. So, learning to manage email lists, to create and schedule automatic responses and to do so in a timely manner requires skills I have not (yet) mastered. But I'm learning...
- Websites are for visiting. Not for creating and maintaining. That's not the case for me anymore. With a tip of the hat, a hearty hug and a sloppy kiss, I say, "thank you" to the wonderful webmaster who keeps me from jumping off this particular learning cliff. She is a fantastic teacher and I'm trying to be the best student possible and learn.
Experts say that it doesn't matter so much what you learn as that you learn. Benefits are greater with more complex tasks, but learning something that you enjoy matters. Find classes, find tutorials online, read how-to books. (Or say now, attend one of the REC Retreats events.)
No tattoos for you!
As exercising helps keep your body young, learning helps keep your mind young. And both are less painful than getting a midlife-crisis tattoo. Not that there is anything wrong with a tattoo - my nose piercing was the result of a midlife-crisis moment! It's just that learning hurts less.
Is that a beanbag?
Currently, my wing-back chair upholstery project is resembling a bean bag, but as I learn Portuguese, it looks more and more like a chair every day.