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Learning, let alone mastering a skill, can be a challenging feat. But it is definitely possible.
If you’re interesting in learning a new skill, you’re already ahead of the game in terms of learning and leading a richer, happier and more fulfilling life.
This article shares some tips and ways that will help you get better at and master a skill.
Use multiple sources and styles
A great rule of thumb is to learn from one teacher, source, method, book, course, etc. and implement it. Then take note and try a different teacher, etc.
Oftentimes we can be struggling to learn something and then we learn it a different way, from a different teacher, or see a different perspective. And all of a sudden, we’ve got it! Everything makes sense!
Or we catch something that makes it much more understandable. Or we connect the dots to other things we’ve learned.
Experiments is how science develops and it’s how we learn. It’s how we can apply and test material. It’s how we can try new things or modify existing things for better results.
Experiments can test your abilities and push the limits for what’s possible.
Experimenting is a fun word where there is no “failure.” It was just a test or an experiment to see what would happen. We record the results, learn from them and then try new and different experiments.
Learning how to learn
Learning how to learn can help maximize your learning so that you can master a skill quicker, better and more efficiently.
It’s a skill that will help you in all areas of life because learning is required to improve and grow in all areas of life. It will frankly change your life.
The top performers and richest, most successful people are highly adept in the skill of learning.
This article is a great place to get started with tips and techniques on how to learn better, easier, and faster.
Teach and give advice
This will not only help you learn, but will give you more confidence.
The learning pyramid is a phenomenon where we learn and retain the most from teaching what we learn compared to other types of learning.
It’s also possible to teach without another person. You can teach yourself by journaling, mind mapping or talking out loud.
Oftentimes you can learn something from teaching that you never even thought you knew or had learned. Teaching can actually bring it out of you.
For example, I have a friend who I talk to often and she comes to me with advice usually about relationships. After talking to her and giving advice, I have found many times I’ve learned and discovered something (insights and ideas) myself just from speaking it to her out loud that I would’ve never thought
An easy way to get started with teaching what you learn is to record (or take it a step further and share) a TIL (Today I Learned) lesson. You can either write it down in your notes or in your journal. It helps to start a specific notebook to record everything you learn every day.
Start a blog
One of the main reasons why I started a blog is because it would help me learn.
Just as we learned in the previous point, teaching others helps us learn.
And it has many incentives with the learning process:
- It keeps you motivated
- It helps keep you accountable
- You help others in the process
There are countless blogs that started as beginner hobbies and turned into experts through their blogs from all different fields – finance, photography, tech, fashion, cosmetics, education and more!
I’ve learned a tremendous amount from blogging and I only wish I would’ve started sooner!
Talk to experts and ask their advice
In this age of the internet and social, reaching out and getting in touch with experts is extremely accessible.
The worst that can happen is that they ignore us or reject our request for answers, information and advice. This may hurt our egos temporarily, but we’ll move on and get over it.
As far as the best that can happen, well the possibilities are endless. You could not only learn something rare and invaluable that will change your life.
You could also:
- Gain courage facing your fear of reaching out
- Develop a relationship with the expert
- Learn how to network
- Get a job working with the expert
Yes, these things do happen just from tweets, DMs and emails sent.
The reward far outweighs the risk.
Learn with others & get involved in the community
Learning with others can help us master a skill faster, easier and better.
We have others to get creativity and ideas from, and model after. Not only do the teachers teach us, but our fellow classmates or learners can teach us just as much as well.
You can also teach others this way which, as a previous point shares, helps us learn the most.
It also opens the possibility for feedback, discussion, creativity, and new ideas.
It’s the reason why there are book clubs. And it’s the reason why The Socratic Method is still heavily used for learning purposes.
Learning with others also helps keep us accountable in our skill development. We are more likely to show up and do the work under social pressure.
There is also the benefit in creating new relationships and friendships, especially with those that share our interests and goals.
We are a social species. It’s in our nature. Research shows that we learn better in social environments than in isolation.
Have a mission and concrete goals
You want to be intentional with your learning and set clear goals.
Setting SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant and Time-bound) goals will help you focus and hone in on getting exactly where you want to be with your skill and ability.
“Mastering a skill” is a very vague goal. You want to make sure you’re setting specific goals in terms of abilities, tasks and results.
Having goals keeps you motivated because the goal is:
- Specific, you know exactly what you are looking forward to celebrating
- Measurable, you can track the progress
- Achievable, you can do it!
- Relevant, it’s something that interest you or will help you
- Time bound, you are pushed to reach the deadline
You’re also more likely to be motivated when you’re backed by a strong mission or “why” that gives your skill deep meaning and purpose to your life.
If you want to get something done, if you want to do more of something, if you want to get better at something, it’s crucial to schedule it.
If it doesn’t get scheduled, it’s not a priority and will likely not happen. Especially not consistently.
Scheduling it forces you to make time for it. You just have to commit and follow through on your calendar.
Intensify your learning
Intensifying your learning gives you more time without sacrificing amount of learning and gives you that relaxation too.
You’re able to learn faster and more efficiently and effectively if you can intensify your focus.
With low-efficiency and low-intensity learning, you learn at a slower rate so you take more time learning and it ends up taking you longer to master a skill.
It’s kind of like exercising. You can do a ten minute high intensity workout or you can do a light jog for forty minutes. The surprising fact is that you’re probably going to get better and faster results from the intense short workout than the more relaxed, longer workout.
This is true for many things in life, which is the basis behind the 80/20 Rule, that 20% of our input leads to 80% of our results.
To do this, you can try to schedule and shorten your learning or studying session of what you would normally schedule longer sessions for which will result in higher focus and higher intensity learning.
Or you could try the Pomodoro Method, which is training, studying or learning in intervals followed by short breaks of relaxation. This is backed by science and research that shows that humans can only intensely focus for no more than 45 minutes.
Do the homework
When going through courses, taking classes, or reading a book, we are often given homework to do.
Sometimes the homework may seem redundant. (“Why do I have to fill out this worksheet on something I just read or watched?”)
However just from watching, reading or listening to the material, our brain can sometimes trick us into thinking we actually know the material when in reality, we don’t. Doing the homework can test our knowledge which, in turn, helps us learn.
It also makes us proactive in our learning. It allows us to practice outside of the safe learning environment such as our dance teacher next to us to guide our movement or the security of the text in front of us or the audio in our ears.
Take responsibility for your learning
Don’t expect just watching the course, going to class or reading the book will do the work for you.
Remember that you are responsible for your learning. Not your teacher, not the course or the class.
If the method of learning is not bringing you the results you want, find a new one. The responsibility to learn and master a skill still lies on you.
You could have the greatest teacher, course or book in the world to teach you everything. But your success in mastering the skill lies in the work you do.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes and failure (and don’t be set back from them!)
Mistakes and failure are a part of the learning process.
School and the education system teach and train us that mistakes and failure are bad, bad, bad! But the opposite is true.
In improv class, one of the main principles is that mistakes are a good thing. Fearing mistakes is bad because it keeps us from trying and putting ourselves out there. When anyone would make a mistake in the improv games played, we would clap and celebrate.
Being afraid of mistakes and failure will only hold you back and keep you from mastering a skill. You can’t be good, let alone great at something without being bad at it at first.
“Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” – Ryan North
Making mistakes and failing takes courage.
With these tips, you will get to mastering a skill in no time.
Now, I’d like to know from you!
What skill are you trying to master?
What are some tips that you think has helped you master a skill?
Let me know in the comments below!