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The A List Apart Blog Presents:

Stop Cringing and Embrace the Unknown

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You know those moments when you’re shown a new feature to build, a description that needs to be written, or a design that needs to be translated to code, and you just freeze? When you aren’t sure where to go or how to begin?

This happened to me recently; the designer I was working with wanted to include a small animation on the homepage. I’ve taken an animation workshop, and I’ve done very small things on sites before, but I’ve never done something quite like what he asked for. At first I thought it was completely unnecessary, why bother? But as I worked through it, Googling madly and using Mozilla Developer Network a lot, I learned. When I got it working, or at least got it started, it was fun to see.

We’ve all had those moments when we’ve been asked to do something in our work, and cringe. I get it, some days you just want to coast, use the knowledge you have, get the job done. But on those same days, you may be thrown a new idea or concept that you need to make happen. How we handle these moments, can make a difference in how our days go.

Lately, instead of cringing, I’m pausing to think of the task differently when something new is thrown my way. Instead of feeling like I can’t do it, or searching for an argument for why we shouldn’t do it, I’m trying to look at these moments as a possible way to learn.

I can be old fashioned at times; I like the code that I know works, and sometimes I’m slow to warm up to new things. But, I’ve found when I keep an open mind to the possibilities and try something out, I learn and sometimes I even have fun.

We have so many tools at our finger tips that can help us learn quickly, and I know when I learn something on the job, the new ideas stick with me longer. Truth be told, I’ve gotten fond of reading the drier specs and documentation—it’s a way I’ve found I can learn on my own in these moments of uncertainty.

So now, instead of cringing when the new idea is presented to me, I’m pausing to think through what a plan of action could be. Can I figure out how to make it happen? When I get something to work, like I did recently with that animation, it’s a gratifying feeling, knowing that I pushed through the fear and learned. Truth be told, this is often how we grow, by pushing through those moments, we realize that we’re capable of figuring it out and getting it done.

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