Learning a New Skill
Interested in learning how to play an instrument? Maybe you want to pick up a new language?
Well, there are efficient ways of doing this, and learning a new skill doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think.
Some of it involves perseverance and making time to learn, and some of it requires preparation. When you are ready to go, you want to make sure you know how to learn faster than it would usually take you.
The catchy headline-making claim by Josh Kaufman that learning a new skill takes 10,000 hours has been criticized by many. Learning a new skill can take just a fraction of this.
1) Set Goals
We have outlined a few useful tips to make sure you can master new skills in no time at all.
Everything starts with an intention.
By giving yourself something to aim for, you can measure success but also look at your progress from where you started, to where you want to go.
If you wanted to learn how to play a song on a guitar by the end of the month, then once you have mastered the first few chords, you would know you are well on your way. Consider why you are learning this skill when you set your goal. If there is the intention behind the goal, then you are more likely to achieve it.
The good news is that you are setting your own goals. Don’t be shy when making your goals, and there is nothing wrong with dreaming big.
As Bruce Lee said: “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.”
2) Think About How You Learn
The fact is, everyone absorbs information in different ways.
Einstein had a saying: ‘’Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
This saying might resonate for many people in school as a classroom of 30 students is all expected to learn in the same way. Some people are more comfortable at learning visually and others by using audio.
3) Grab Small Opportunities To Learn
If you are learning a new language and want to do some extra studying, make the most of every moment.
You can learn on your daily commute to work. Put the headphones in as you ride on the bus, or use your time driving wisely and learn as you go.
Most people use their lunch break for their downtime, and this is understandable, but if you have set yourself a goal, this might give you an extra hour a day to practice your new skill and master it a lot faster.
4) Make Learning Meaningful
Without a purpose, you will find it hard to learn a new skill.
Repetitive learning is known as rote learning, and although this helps you to memorize facts, it is not necessarily the best way to learn a new skill. Many people who try this method find that they lose focus. And learning can become a chore.
Meaningful Learning, on the other hand, is best described by Oxford Learning as ‘’Understanding how all the pieces of an entire concept fit together. This type of learning stays with students for life.’’
It is an active method of learning that requires you to be engaged in the process. If you want to master a new skill, then you will need to understand why it is that you want to learn it.
Meaningful learning is considered to be the best way to remember new skills in the long run. Ever wonder why you can’t remember much French from school? It is likely that you weren’t taking it all in because you didn’t consider why it was something worth learning.
5) Get Involved
Learning a new skill comes a lot easier when you tackle it head-on.
Instead of continually reading about how to learn to use an SLR camera, learn as you go. Sure, you need to get to know the basics, but the best way to learn it is to pick up a camera and make some mistakes.
This way you will feel involved in the process and less likely to stop learning before you get started.
Some people prefer to learn where they can measure their progress from the start. If you can get feedback from someone who knows what to look out for, they can help you to make adjustments that you might otherwise miss. Doing this from the get-go is a good way of making progress fast.
6) Get Rid Of Distractions
You are going to hinder your progression if you are at the mercy of notifications on your phone.
Some people find it hard to go any serious amount of time without looking at their phone. If this is you, it is best to turn your phone off completely when you are practicing a new skill.
Try apps that block out websites and apps of your choice that can be set to keep you out for anything from 15 minutes to 8 hours.
When learning a new skill, the focus is essential, so anything that can help you in this area is a must-have. Otherwise, we advise that you turn notifications off and keep yourself logged out of social media and instant messaging apps.
7) Break It All Down
Once you have set your goals, you can go deeper into how you are going to learn the new skill.
If you are learning a new instrument, are you going to use YouTube to learn step by step then set aside time to practice one song at a time? Maybe you are going to start by learning some of the basic chords that you will need to know.
There will be a lot of fine details involved in learning any new skill and identifying them; even the smaller ones can help you to improve faster.
Maybe even write your goals down.
Some of the aspects involved in guitar playing include the following:
- Acoustic vs. electric
- How to tune your guitar
- Holding the pick correctly
- Easy songs for beginners
- How to read tabs
- Basic chords
If you laid each of these out and went deeper into each one, you will find that you will learn the guitar a lot faster. Some of them will come a lot easier than others so you will be able to see which of them you need to dedicate more time to.
8) Pat Yourself On the Back Along The Way
When you have broken the basics down, make sure you take stock now and then to see where you have done well.
If you are trying to learn how to build a website, you should feel pleased when you have created a homepage slider or have successfully uploaded a template for it.
The more pleased you are with yourself, the more likely you are to keep going. Focusing on the end goal makes achieving anything feel a long way away, which can be demotivating.
When we reward ourselves for the smaller wins, our brain releases chemicals that make us feel good and gives us the motivation to keep going, no matter how far you are from the end goal.
Appreciating how far you have come can stop you from quitting halfway through. Think of all those people who have guitars in their living room that you’ve never heard them play, or remember when your friend said he was building that website that he never talks about anymore?
Do everything you can to make sure you stick to what you are doing.
9) 20 percent Effort for 80 percent Reward
Named after the Italian economist, the Pareto Principle looks at how 80 percent of your success will come from 20 percent of the work you put in.
The percentage might be a bit of a rough estimate but consider that most of the results you achieve come from a small part of the work you put in.
So back to the guitar learning. You might find that most of the skills required can be left until you have learned some of the more essential basics. Some of the chords you will learn early on will feature in a large number of the songs you play early on.
You should be putting more emphasis on these smaller skills as they will be more relevant. Also, practicing these will make the other skills easier when you get to them.
10) Believe in Yourself
It might sound a little corny, but so many people give up on their goals because they don’t believe they will get to where they want to.
In her book ‘’Mindset,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck writes about a fixed mindset vs. growth mindset.
This theory proposes that there are different types of people. Those who are more risk averse believe that talent cannot develop beyond certain boundaries, and they are limited to what they can learn.
Then there is a growth mindset. These people believe that the sky’s the limit, and through practice and working hard they can learn new skills.
If you want to know how to learn new skills and faster, then this is the approach that you need for success. If you believe you can get to your end goal, then you are more likely to try hard to get there.
You can master no new skill without putting in the hours.
If you want to learn how to be a better chef, you need to spend more time in the kitchen. Developing your skills should be part of the fun, maybe you can cook a meal for a large group of people.
You aren’t going to get it right without a level of patience that comes with repetition and getting it wrong sometimes along the way, which leads us to:
12) Set a Goal For Every Practice Session
Every time you practice your new skill, think about what you want to achieve in the micro sessions.
So, if you have a 20-minute window to learn a new language, maybe set yourself the small goal of learning a new phrase, or the colors.
These small goals will feel like little wins that eventually snowball into a more comprehensive set of skills.
13) Get a Mentor
This tip isn’t just about getting someone who can help you to improve, but someone who might hold you accountable.
Of course, you want a teacher who knows more than you, no matter what type of skill it is you should be conversing with those who are already where you want to be.
Most people learn better when face to face with a mentor. Sure, YouTube videos are useful, and blog posts can help you to improve, but when someone can guide you through what you need to do and point out areas for improvement, you will learn a lot faster.
Most teachers will be sympathetic to the fact that you are learning, and with some skills, you can ask a friend who knows more than you for help.
Don’t be afraid to reach out; it will make learning a lot easier.
It doesn’t matter what you are trying to master, the above are just a handful of the ways you can use to make learning new skills easier.
When things come easy, you will find that you stick to it, and when things get challenging, try one of our other pointers to see if a different approach can help.
Whatever you are trying to achieve, be kind to yourself as you go, and think about the end goal.