I've been trying to learn Vim, which is a terminal based text editor used by uber geeks and longbeards. I know how to get around in Vim, I've been using it for years because it's one of the only text editors available when I ssh into a Linux server, but I'm not nearly as fast using it as I am when using good old GEdit with a bunch of helpful plugins. The thing about Vim is that it has a ton of shortcuts keys for doing stuff, which is both awesome and terrifying because of the steep learning curve that this creates. I have tried switching all of my text editing needs to Vim before, but I'd always hit a snag after a little while and in frustration I'd quit and just use GEdit.
This time I'm cutting myself some slack, I don't have to quit all other text editors cold turkey, it's okay to fall back on them if I'm in a hurry and just need to get something done. But when I have time to use Vim to do what I need to do, when I can pull up Google and learn how to unindent a whole block of text at once instead of saying "this is stupid, it's so easy to do this in GEdit!", I should take that time, because in truth it's not particularly hard to do the things I want to do in Vim, I just have to force myself to learn how, even if it's frustrating to hit those road blocks.
My daughter is 6 and for her birthday we baught her a brand new pink bike, with streamers on the handlebars and a little basket. She loves that bike, but there's just one problem; she won't ride it. Oh she'll sit on it, but she won't peddle it around unless one of us is hovering nearby, because she's scared she'll fall off. Now this fear isn't completely unfounded; shortly after she got the bike she was riding it down our street and she started to tip over and instead of putting her feet down to stabilize herself she tried to jump clear of the bike and ended up getting tangled in the peddles and scraping her knee. We keep trying to tell her that she just needs to get back on the bike and try again, and she does try from time to time, but until she decides that she's ready to face her fear, and possibly sustain additional injury, she's just going to sit on it and not go anywhere.
And that's fine. We all have to decide how and when we want to grow, to step outside of our comfort zone because we know (or at least hope) that the price at the end will be worth the pain. It's often difficult to make ourselves take risks if we haven't yet convinced ourselves that it's going to be worth it, we don't yet know what we will gain from the experience. I've decided that learning Vim will allow me to become even more keyboard-centric, it will free me from clunky GUI based text editors and possibly increase my text editing speeds. My daughter will eventually decide that she wants to be able to ride her bike with the other kids in the neighborhood, and hopefully that desire will help her overcome her fear, or at least face it. When your desire to achieve outweighs your fear of failing, or your frustration with having to slow down to learn, then the time is right to commit.
Because learning and growing can hurt, you have to be committed to following through, even when things aren't easy. A committment isn't just a decision, because you can change your mind about a decision, but a commitment is something that holds you to a course, even when you might want to change your mind. Breaking a commitment needs to have reprocussions, you need to have an incentive to follow through, and the most basic incentive is just knowing that you had committed to doing something and that you would be letting yourself down by quitting. I prefer to bind myself more strongly to a committment, like tweeting about it or blogging about it, hence this post. Whatever it takes to get you to your goal, that's what you need to do to force yourself to follow through.
Now go. Do. Accomplish something that now seems scary and out of reach. Get on that bike and ride.