Imagine if you never learned anything new. You’d miss out on all the new technology, social media, jobs, eat the same food for years and probably bore yourself to death. Learning new skills keeps life interesting and is an unspoken requirement now. Technology changes daily and we all have to navigate new programs, systems, trends and websites.
1. Start with Your Mindset
Learning most new skills will be hard at first; you’ll definitely have a learning curve. You have to mentally prep yourself for the frustration. Prepare for feeling unsure while you work through it. You’ll feel that you’ll never understand it and progress will inch along slowly. Many people quit at that point. Instead of quitting, accept that the process will be confusing for a few days or weeks. Think of it as a temporary roadblock.When I first started freelancing, I learned new skills every week. I had to learn different terms, formats and styles of writing. I incorporate new styles of writing easily and have a good memory for learning terms. Learning new formats was the most challenging. I learned a pitch format that took me a full 2 days to understand. For 2 days I stared at my computer half frustrated and half bewildered. The first project I worked on took me extra time because I had to understand how to format it. I knew I would get it. It wasn’t impossible. It wasn’t even that technical; it was just different. Now I can write a long pitch in that format in less than 2 hours. I repeat, the first one took me 2 days. Don’t quit before the 2 day mark. After you’ve learned and incorporated it, you’ll be able to perform that skill quickly and accurately.
2. Find Examples
The easiest way for me to learn new skills is to read the requirements and then see actual examples. When I want to learn a new skill, I find someone who is good at it and pick their brain or follow instructions until I understand it. The library, Google, You Tube and any other research resources are also your friends. Find the best examples of that specific technique or skill and study them. Look at why they’re good. What do people comment on? What do critics or experts of that industry comment on when discussing your example. If you want to lean to paint landscapes, look at the masters. What techniques and material did they use? How did they approach the work? Studying excellent examples gives you plenty of insight into acquiring that skill. You’ll be nowhere near that good. The point is to have an inspiration, not something that intimidates you so much that you give up.
3. Learn the Rules
Your brain needs time to add or interpret new information. When learning a new skill, set aside a chunk of time to learn the rules, common results and practice. Every industry has a standard. Find out what it is. Imagine that you’re learning how to build model planes. Find out if there are rules that dictate each step. Look at your examples for common themes. If there is a logical order or framework, follow it. Switch up once you know the rules if you want.
4.Break Down Each Step
Look at each piece and examine how it’s put together. The better understanding you have of each part, the better you’ll perform that new skill. Discovering how something is done and why it works is an important piece for me. Most people try to tackle the whole concept at once. That’s what generally leads to frustration when learning a new skill or subject. The whole project becomes less overwhelming when working with chunks o information.
5. Get Started
Find the most important steps through research and then start. Don’t’ keep researching. 9 times out of 10 the first 3 or 4 resources you come across will be the most or least helpful. Why is that good? You’ll start to practice and realize the instruction helped or that it confuses you more. If the resources you find confuse you, try a different angle or method. You’ll figure out the least helpful elements quicker if you don’t spend time reading through 10 books that suggest the same method.
6. Know Why it Works or Doesn’t
When I learn new skills, I always need to know why something works or doesn’t. I tend to explore the opposite and find out why it doesn’t work. In the landscape painting example, studying bad paintings is just as valuable. As long as you realize they are poor quality, you can learn what not to do. Ask yourself and others why that particular painting is so bad. Where does it fail? What did the artist do or neglect to do? For me, learning what not to do is just as important as learning the right way. After I figure out the rules, best and worst practices I understand the whole skill set more.
7. Practice Makes Perfect
One you learn it, you have to practice to actually become good. I’ve never retained anything that I didn’t practice immediately after learning it.. Set up a specific time or day to practice, without exceptions.You don’t have to be the best ever. Just learn it, practice and don’t expect to be the Venus and Serena level amazing when you start out. That type of comparison will psych you out and actually get in the way. I practice until it becomes second nature. You’ve truly learned a new skill once it becomes automatic. When I no longer have to review the steps or refer to examples, I feel much more comfortable. I also save loads of time.
Now Put it Together
If you want to learn a new skill, try to break it down as much as possible and understand why. When you understand why something works, you can build on it and make it your own. Creating variations and alternatives becomes easier. Never stop learning and exploring skills that support your business or your art. You will always reap the benefits and rewards of mastering your chosen skills.
Share which new skills you’d like to learn in the comments. Are these skills for work? To help pursue your dream or just for fun? Don’t be shy. Forward this post to people who want to learn something new.