What If I’m Not Any Good? 4 Reasons We Put Off Learning New Skills

Vocal coach Terry Wood (left) works with 2010 Operation Rising Star winner Melissa Gomez during recording session at Firehouse Recording Studios in Pasadena, Calif. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

Learning a new skill, exploring a new hobby, or working toward a big goal can be both exciting and nerve-wracking.

The cycle is all-too-common. Maybe you buy a brand new guitar or a bunch of books in another language, and you’re pumped up to start learning! You noodle away for a while or thumb through some pages… and then the doubts start to creep in.

What if I have no musical talent? What if — after months of practicing Spanish — I still get nervous talking to a native speaker?

Those self-doubts can get the best of you if you let them…

… but you’re stronger than that, right?

We recently surveyed our readers to find out some of the common worries when it comes to taking lessons. Is it nerves? Is it fear that you won’t be any good? Do you feel clueless about what instrument to buy, or which supplies to invest in?

Here’s what we found out, followed by advice straight from current students for overcoming the most common concerns.

1) I’m worried I won’t be talented at my instrument, target language, etc.

This was one of the most popular responses in our survey. And we totally get it.

But here’s the brutal truth: you probably won’t be any good… at first. So here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • If you’re a total beginner, remember that teachers are used to this! As long as you’re motivated and excited about learning, that’s what your teacher wants to see.
  • Your teacher is also there to give you real-time feedback. If you’re trying to learn from prerecorded videos or books, you’ll miss out on that one-on-one help. With the right guidance and practice, you’re bound to improve your skills.
  • Learning just for fun? Even better! Try to think positively, and remember that even if you’re learning slowly, you’re still making progress.
  • Setting small and specific goals can help immensely. And don’t forget to celebrate when you reach them!

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2) I’m worried formal lessons will make learning boring.

Did your parents force you to take piano lessons as a child? Did you take a language class in high school or college to fulfill a credit requirement?

Here’s a little secret: even if you disliked these lessons or classes back then, making the decision to learn something on your own is a totally different experience.

Now is your chance to set your own goals. Are you learning a language for an upcoming vacation? Do you want to learn an instrument for fun, to keep your mind sharp? Take some time to think about your motivations.

Next comes the fun part. The great thing about working with a private teacher is that your lessons will be customized exactly for you. If you’re clear about your goals, your teacher will work with you to keep you motivated — so if you’re feeling bored, speak up!

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3) I’m worried I won’t have enough time to commit to learning, practicing, etc.

Ah, the common excuse: I don’t have time for lessons!

In reality, it’s just a matter of reorganizing your time to make room for your hobbies. We like to compare it to budgeting your money — and that starts with setting those specific (and realistic) goals, taking advantage of practice time you may be overlooking, and following the “pay-yourself-first” rule (learn more here).

Moreover, taking private lessons can actually keep you on track. Instead of wasting time on confusing online programs or watching tutorial videos out of order, your teacher will have a plan to ensure you’re making progress at the right pace.

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4) I’m worried my teacher won’t be a good match for me.

Yup, we get this one too. Working with the right teacher can play a big part in your learning experience.

Maybe you need someone who’s great with kids, if you’re booking lessons for your son or daughter. Maybe you want to work with a teacher who specializes in a certain genre, dialect, or style. Thousands of private teachers have joined TakeLessons, so you’re bound to find a great one.

So take a look, browse around, and let us know if you need some help. And don’t worry — you’re always covered by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

More tips here: The 7 Types of Learners & How to Find the Best Teacher For YOU

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OK, ready to take the next step?

You might still feel nervous — that’s OK. Even our pro teachers were in your shoes once. Heck, even Kurt Cobain, Misty Copeland, Mark Zuckerberg, and anyone else who inspires you was once a beginner. And look where they are now.

For the aspiring musicians out there, we’ll share one last piece of advice from Belinda M., one of our guitar students:

Learning to become a great musician is like the lottery… You can’t win if you don’t play!

How can you argue with that?

Photo By U.S. Army

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