Have you ever wanted to learn a new hobby but wasn’t sure where to start? Perhaps you felt unsure whether or not you’ll ever become good at it?
For the first time since I started blogging, I won’t be featuring a tutorial or reveal. Instead, I wanted to take a step back and address some of you who are intrigued but doubting your ability to do the various projects on my blog for yourself. Doing DIY and craft projects certainly requires a variety of skills, but trust me, you don’t need to be a pro handyman to start! In this post, I want to prove that to you.
Always trying different hobbies has been something that defined me since my childhood. I would ask for bracelet-making kits or some yarn and needles for my birthdays, while many of my friends wanted new clothes or a new computer. In high school, I would drive to Michael’s and spend hours exploring all the colorful aisles, just brainstorming what my next project should be.
Buying our house last year took my love of creating to a whole different level. My mind boggled with countless ideas to make our new house our very own home. We found ourselves going into an endless stream of projects after projects, limited only by our time and budget.
Before I knew it, many people around me were asking how I learned to do so many different things… and that really caught me off guard! I didn’t ever think I was really special in this sense. Most of the time, I just caught a whiff of an idea, developed it, and just DID it!
But after intentionally “observing” my thought process for learning how to do new things, I found that there definitely was a process that I was going through. And I would love to share this with you so you can start too!
These are the hobbies and skills I acquired over the years (not in any particular order):
- candle making
- computer graphics
- playing the piano
- composing music
- learning new languages
- soap making
- budgeting – can this be called a skill?
I assure you, the purpose I’m listing these out is not to show off! Actually, that’s the last thing I want to do. The reason that I’m sharing this is to let you know that anyone can start and get good at any of these hobbies/skills as long as they have the right mindset! So today, I wanted to talk about exactly what that “mindset” is.
Hobbies or skills?
Maybe you already caught this, but I use the words, “hobbies” and “skills” interchangeably. A lot of people will probably argue (with good reason) that there’s a difference between those two. However, one of my biggest tricks for learning new skills is to treat it as the means to achieve a goal, not the goal.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby or a skill. What matters is why you want to learn it, what you will do with it, and what is your ultimate goal?
The maze trick
Have you ever had a hard time solving a maze puzzle, but breezed through it when you solved it backward? Why is it so much easier to go from the end of the maze to the start versus the other way around?
It’s because when you begin at the starting point, there are multiple possibilities, all but one ending in dead ends. However, when you start at the end point, you rule out all the dead ends; you have one road leading to the starting point!
Similarly, I’ve found that “get good at knitting” is not a good enough goal. It is like solving the maze puzzle from the starting point. You don’t know where you’ll eventually end up and whether it’s a dead end. You’ll eventually run out of motivation because you don’t know where your ultimate destination is.
Instead, a better goal is “make a throw for my living room.” This tells you the desired end result, thus gives you the motivation to follow through to the end. You would be able to be creative AND productive at the same time.
Being “creatively productive”
My husband knows that I always say,”Be creatively productive!” I started using this phrase to describe the mindset that I take on when diving into a new project. Being “creatively productive” means defining the goal first (the “productive” part), and then searching for ways to get there (the “creative” part).Being creatively productive means defining the goal first, then searching for ways to get there.Click To Tweet
So, if you have been wanting to learn a new skill or hobby, decide what you want to make first. I have many examples of projects you can do on this website and all of them contain step-by-step instructions that can be followed by complete beginners.
Next, I’ll dive deeper into my process for getting inspiration for projects and learning the skills needed to complete those projects. Plus, I have a FREE Project Planning Worksheet to help you put all this to practice at the end of the post :). Stay tuned!
First, decide on your goal.
Whenever I’m brainstorming for my next project, I look around my house or at my calendar. I don’t look in my craft box!
Many people ask themselves “what can I make?” This is actually a very burdensome question because answering it requires you to do 2 things at once: think of all the different steps for all the possible projects, then assess whether or not you can do each of those steps. The problem is that by doing this, you’re going through the steps of brainstorming and planning for each project before even deciding if you’ll do it or not! You’re at the wrong side of the maze! A lot of people don’t get past this step because they feel overwhelmed.
What I do is completely ignore my abilities or inabilities for a moment. Instead, ask this question: “what do I want to make?” It’s not a burden to answer this question. You’re just thinking practically of what might be a good thing for you or your family when completed. Here are some good example answers:
- Make a cotton throw for my living room.
- Paint my kitchen cabinets white because I hate my orange oak cabinets.
- Decorate that wall because it looks empty.
- Make an entryway bench for the kids to put on their shoes before heading out.
- Make 20-30 gifts with a $20 budget for the upcoming [insert Holiday].
- Play my husband’s favoriate song on the piano on his birthday
- Put something in that awkward corner to put it to use.
- Make a coffee cozy for my tumbler (the store ones costs $15!!).
As you can see, your answer to the question “what do I want to make?” should contain a clear goal and perhaps the reason why. This 1 sentence goal should be as specific as possible.
Second, think creatively of how you can get there.
Only after you have decided on your goal should you start thinking about how to get there. This is where the creative part of “being creatively productive” comes in! Think of all the different possible solutions. Think outside the box. Note that you’re still not thinking of your abilities or inabilities.
For example, if I decided my goal for my next project will be, ” make a throw for my living room,” I would come up with the following solutions:
Now, with a clear list of options, I can pick one of these skills depending on what I specifically envision the end result to be. If I wanted to go for a chunky knit look for my throw, I would go with knitting. If I wanted to get a loose, lacy look, I could pick crochet. Again, don’t worry about whether you know how to do it or not! This will come later.
Decided what skill you’ll use for the project? Now we need to assess what we need to learn to do the project.
Third, determine what you need to learn.
So, what if I decided that I wanted a knit throw, but I don’t know how to knit? Well, since we already decided on the end result, learning this new skill is totally achievable. Why? Because you would only need to learn the things required for this specific project!
Most of the time, it comes down to 1-3 things to learn. In my case, it might be learning how to cast on, do a particular stitch, and cast off. Now, I just need to go search how to do these things on Youtube, an online resource, or a knitting book!
A project that is brainstormed and planned by being creatively productive can be a great controlled environment for learning new skills or hobbies. In fact, this is how I got my hands on most of the skills and hobbies I listed earlier. I’ve rarely thought “I want to learn how to ____.” Rather, I ended up learning different skills because they were needed for various projects. And after a few projects, I had a repertoire of things I knew how to do.
I hope my overview of how I always aim to be creatively productive shows you the right mindset you need to fearlessly dive into your next project and learn something new in the process!
More Words of Advice
- Don’t feel like you need to take “Crochet 101” or “Woodworking 101” before starting anything. Just learn the pieces of information you need for each project and each step. The first time might take a bit long but you’ll have so much practical knowledge after a few projects!
- Youtube and Pinterest are very good places for picking and choosing the information you want to learn. Also, check out this helpful website: DiscoverAHobby.com
- Buy only the materials and tools you need for 1 project at a time. This will allow you to save money, and eventually, after a couple projects, you will have a good collection of things that you actually use.
- Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts. Even if there is a “traditional way” to do things, sometimes cutting corners can still get you good results faster.
- For example, when I was looking at ways to crochet with tulle for the dish scrubby project, all the other tutorials were telling me to strip the tulle in half, tie the ends together, and roll the tulle “yarn” into a ball before starting. I didn’t want to put in all that work, so I just used the full width of the tulle and used a bigger crochet hook. It worked out perfectly!
- Knowing when NOT to cut corners is equally important. Mainly, you don’t want to cut corners when doing it right way will save you time and money in the long run. For example, we didn’t skip washing, sanding, and priming for our kitchen cabinet makeover. Instead, we used our creativity and some brain power to come up with another way to get it done faster.
- Don’t feel like you need to get perfect results all the time. Sometimes, the imperfectness of your product is what gives it the character and unique charm that can’t be replicated by other people.
FREE <Creatively Productive Project Planning Worksheet>
For those of you who are more visual, I created this FREE One-Page Project Planning Worksheet. It’s basically a fill-in-the-blank type of worksheet to guide you through the process of planning your creatively productive projects.
You can print it out each time you’re planning for new projects. I have binders of these types of brainstorming worksheets (of course, they’re not as pretty as this one!) and it’s so much fun going back to it later to see how much I’ve learned.
The worksheet will come straight to your inbox when you sign up using the form below. Plus, once you sign up, I’ll send you exclusive content, updates on new posts, and freebies. I hope you join the Try Everything family! 🙂
So, what project do you want to get started on? What hobbies/skills will you be learning next?
I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section 🙂
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