Sorry, this is not a post about personal fitness or adjusting your gullibility while watching The View.
I don't know about you, but I haven't come close to mastering my profession. I suspect that's the case for most people who work in technology-related fields, as well as those whose focus is on creative endeavors (after all, who can assess when creativity has been mastered?). And when you combine the creative with the technical, the idea of learning and knowing everything about everything is simply ludicrous.
One of the decisions I make daily is which technologies I'm not going to even attempt to learn or use. Being a one-man website design/development business means that I can't do everything that every possible project might require. I've written about this before, but it's should be of paramount importance for anyone considering becoming a freelance consultant in a technical field.
Having said that, there are still times when the temptation to dip my toes into a new (to me) technology or technique is too strong to resist. Yesterday, a client asked me if I could create some animations for his client. The specifications were for either an animated GIF or a Flash movie, and a maximum file size was also specified. The artwork would be provided.
This sort of thing is not my forté. I build websites; I'm not an animator or a graphic artist. Animated GIFs are growing increasingly uncommon - the equivalent of buggy whips in the automotive age - and I have little use for Flash. And yet...
The challenge was irresistible. I had a vague idea how to create both alternatives, and I had just completed a couple of major projects and needed a break from the wonderful world of coding, so I figured, what the heck...I'll give it a shot.
Long story made short: I created a sample in each format and sent them along, and they were well received. It probably took me three times as long to do the work as it would have taken an experienced animator, but my client was happy (he's waiting on feedback from his client). Even better, I honed some skills (OK, that's an exaggeration; I began to develop some rudimentary skills) that might come in handy in the future. Or not. And that's fine, too. One thing I've learned is that learning should never stop. The stretching should never end, lest the creative muscles become frozen and inflexible.
I'll go so far as to say that learning simply for the sake of learning is worthwhile. There's a cost in terms of time and, sometimes, mental or emotional pain, but as long as the cost is manageable, I hope to keep paying it.