Want to learn a new skill? Here’s what you need to do

We all know that learning is important. We go to school and spend our childhood, adolescence and young years learning so we can later start on a career path, then we get a job and we keep on learning to improve ourselves and get ahead in our professional lives. Learning is a never-ending process that goes beyond school years and formal education and helps us move forward, so we must always strive to gain new knowledge and expand our horizons.

There are many people out there who would like to become better at what they do or master a new skill but they don’t really do much about it. They get discouraged because they simply don’t know where to start or they lose motivation because they feel it’s too late for them to learn something new. The truth is you’ll never find out if you can succeed, unless you actually try. So, the most important thing is to gather your courage and start learning.

If your bucket list includes ideas such as mastering a new skill, learning a new subject or improving your current abilities and becoming more competent in your profession, then stop wasting your time and get to action. We’ll contribute with some useful tips on how you can achieve your goal of self-improvement.

Strat with some self-assessment

We’re all for going after what you want and following your dreams, but dreaming alone won’t get you far. You should do a reality check and see if what you want to do is actually achievable. You must know your limits and your possibilities before you dive in. For example, you’ll never learn to sing like a soprano if you’re completely tone def and you just lack singing talent, so it’s pointless to waste your time on singing lessons in hopes you’ll become a great singer one day.

Also, learning requires time and effort and if you take up learning a complex skill that requires your full attention and involvement it might be hard to fit it in a busy schedule. Make sure you’re ready to make such a big commitment and put in a lot of hard work to reach your goal.

Lastly, you should ask yourself why you want to learn a certain skill or subject. Is it because everyone else is doing it and you want to keep up with the trends? Are you trying to impress someone? Or do you want to expand your skills set to advance professionally?  You should have a valid reason for embarking on a learning process and make sure what you learn has an applicability in the real world.

Know your learning style

We’re not all the same, so it makes sense that different people have different learning styles. Some rely on visual memory to help them remember things and they’ll learn better when there are visual aids involved in the process. Others find it easier to learn by listening to things being explained or by watching demonstrations. There’s no one size fits all learning technique that will guarantee you’ll learn better and faster. It all comes down to personal preference and it usually takes a combination of methods to help you learn more efficiently. The best way to find out what works for you is to analyse your past learning experiences and try to remember what brought you the best results. You can also use the trial and error method and go through various learning techniques until you find the ideal recipe.

Look for support

Learning doesn’t have to be a solitary process. In fact, most people learn better if they have external support. Ideally, you will find a reliable person that already masters the skill you’re looking to attain and can share their knowledge with you. You can sign up for a course, find an online tutoring program or join a study group to get the support you need.

The important thing is to work with someone you’re comfortable with and who has the patience and willingness to explain things to your understanding. You don’t necessarily have to look for a teacher in the traditional sense of the word. For example, learning from the people you work with and are more experienced than you can also be of great help if you want to improve in your profession.

Take baby steps

There’s only so much information you can assimilate in a learning session, so you can rest assured that you won’t become a genius overnight, even if you do your best. You should work hard but you should also work wisely. That’s why it’s better to start small and work your way up than to set large goals from day one.

Don’t waste your energy by trying to achieve spectacular results in a short amount of time. Instead break down the learning process into smaller more manageable parts and focus on each one at a time. After you’ve completed one stage, you can move on to the next one and make sure you take breaks in between to give your brain time to process and store the information.

Practice and then practice some more

Practice makes perfect says an old adage, and indeed you’ll become more skilled by the day if you practice what you’ve learned regularly. By repeating an action over and over again you’ll reinforce the knowledge you’ve gained until it becomes a part of your long-term memory. But take note that mindless practice is of no use and won’t help you progress. So, don’t let your mind wonder and concentrate on what you’re doing.

Also, if you want to make the most out of your practice sessions, focus on the skills you’re struggling with, not the ones that you’re already good at. Just like when you’re building a puzzle, you must spend more time on filling in the missing pieces and completing the overall picture. You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone to do it, but it’s a proven way to see better results.