Learning is a skill; it’s a skill that can be improved.
There are many reasons why you may want to learn a new skill. Here are just a few of them:
• To get a promotion at work.
• To move into a different field.
• To keep your mind sharp.
• Because it’s exciting and empowering to learn new skills.
1. Set a Specific Goal.
When you choose a skill that you want to learn, you have to write down your objective as a goal statement. However, you have to make sure that the goal is specific, and not vague.
In order to make your goal more specific, you ask yourself the following questions:
What specific problem am I trying to solve by learning this skill?
Are there certain aspects of the skill that are more applicable to my situation than others?
2. Give Yourself a Deadline.
We’re all familiar with Parkinson’s Law. If you apply it to learning a new skill, the law says that the longer you give yourself to learn the skill, the more work you’ll end up doing to acquire the skill. At the same time, the opposite is also true. The less time you give yourself to learn a skill, the less work you’ll have to do in order to learn it.
Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage by giving yourself a deadline to learn the new skill.
3. Believe You Can Learn the Skill.
Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” Once again, there’s research that will help you to develop the belief that you can learn new skills even if you lack so-called innate talent, or you’re no spring chicken.
when it comes to learning new things, people have either a fixed or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset think that success in learning a new skill depends on being naturally gifted. On the other hand, those with a growth mindset think that success in learning new things depends on their own efforts.
Obviously, those in the second group are much more likely to persevere when learning new skills. Therefore, in order to believe that you can learn the skill that you’re trying to develop, adopt a growth mindset.
4. Do Preliminary Research.
Find a few books, YouTube videos, tutorials, courses, and so on about the skill that you want to learn. Make sure that you choose high quality resources. Go through your resources quickly in order to help you to begin to identify what you need to do in order to learn the skill.
Don’t get bogged down with details at this point. You’re just trying to develop a general mental framework of the process that you’ll follow to learn the skill.
5. Apply the Pareto Principle.
The Pareto Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. How does this principle apply to learn a new skill? When learning a new skill, identify those sub-skills which will give you 80% or more of the outcome that you want.
One example of the 80/20 rule is learning those few guitar chords which will allow you to play many different songs.
6. Move From Learning to Doing Fast.
So far you’ve conducted preliminary research on your skill, perhaps you’ve asked someone who’s good at the skill for some input, and you’ve watched a few people performing the skill. In addition, based on your research, you’ve deconstructed the skill and you’ve identified the key components of that skill.
What haven’t you done yet? You haven’t acted. While preparation is important, you don’t want to get stuck at the preparation stage. Move into the “doing” stage as fast as you can.
7. Practice. Practicing is the only way to learn anything.
Unfortunately, practicing can get repetitive and monotonous. That’s why in order to learn a new skill, you need to have discipline and patience.
8. Have a Goal for Each Practice Session.
The further away your goal is, the more difficult it is to persevere until you achieve it. The way to address this issue is to break up your goal into milestones, then short-term goals, and them tiny or nano-goals.
Ideally, you should have a goal for each of your practice sessions. That way, for each of your practice sessions you can achieve one of your nano-goals. This will help keep you motivated to achieve your short-term goals; then your milestones; and, finally, your long-term goal.