I have a confession—I’m a recovering online course addict.
For most people, the internet brought more entertainment and connection with people all over the world. For me it brought the opportunity to learn literally everything.
This seemed harmless for a long time. What could be so bad about learning new things? Until one day I realized that I wasn’t really learning anything at all.
I would devour new information and be able to regurgitate it on command, but I couldn’t actually do anything that I learned. You wouldn’t be able to look at my work or actions and tell that I was leveling up my skills.
When I finally realized I was doing this, I felt a bit of shame. I decided to flip over to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and never learn anything new.
I wouldn’t take any courses. I wouldn’t read any books. Nothing.
Obviously, this wasn’t very healthy either, so I had to figure out how to balance my desire to consume new knowledge with actual implementation so I could improve in any area.
There were two things I needed to master to get the most out of my learning binges:
- Knowing when it’s time to invest in my education.
- Taking action.
I now know that the best time to invest in myself is when I feel stuck. I’ve reached a plateau and I’m not growing anymore. That’s when I need to find some resources that can help push me to the next level.
If everything is going well, I’m feeling adequately challenged, and I’m growing through my daily practice, then I don’t need to consume anything. I just need to keep implementing what I already know until I hit a wall.
The second piece, taking action, actually comes very naturally when I follow the first step.
When I was first trying to break my knowledge consumption habit, I was focused only on trying to get myself to implement what I learned. The problem was that I was still consuming new things!
It becomes difficult to implement something new when I’m constantly taking in other new, unrelated information at the same time. The reason I wasn’t taking action was because I kept consuming. I needed to first remove the trigger to the problem before I could change my behavior.
Now I find implementing what I learn to be much easier because I don’t have a million different things distracting me all at once.
Why am I bringing this up?
Earlier this year I took a surface pattern design course and I’ve been implementing a lot of what I learned. However, recently I felt like I hit a wall.
I’ve been wanting to make more complex and interesting designs. I want them to have more of a professional feel to them, but I was struggling with how to approach this.
So I decided it was time to invest in myself, and I signed up for a course to level up my pattern design skills!
It’s a course called Repertoire by Bärbel Dressler. She’s an incredibly accomplished pattern designer and pattern historian. I started it this week and I’m super excited to learn more from her.
In the last 6 years that I’ve been learning to draw, I’ve mostly done it all on my own. Most of the courses I’ve taken have been around managing the business side of what I do and I’ve let my art and design skills fall by the wayside.
But without my art there is no business, so it’s important that I’m constantly improving in my creative work.
The course I’m taking is 10 weeks long and I’ll be making a lot of art. The design at the top of this post is actually one I created after working through the first module. I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of what I create here with you, so stay tuned.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week, and I’ll talk to you soon!
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