The Foolproof Way to Learn a New Skill

The Foolproof Way to Learn a New Skill

 We’re happy to introduce someone you probably already know if you’ve spent any time here; Bryan Cromlish, moderator and co-creator of Life,forinstance! We always appreciate his thought-provoking contribution to the conversation and are grateful that he’s agreed to write this article about learning a new skill.

As the story goes, I was already holding my own head up on the day I was born. My parents were sure I was going to be a genius. Fast-forward a couple decades, it turns out I’m not. I am pretty confident that moment of glory was cancelled out by all the times my dad lifted me up into a door frame as he checked my diaper! What I am trying to say is that I do not even consider myself to be smart, just a logical thinker. In my mind, it is important to know what you need to know, not what you don’t know.

For many of us non-geniuses, learning something new can be an immense challenge. The mind works very differently now than it did when you were young.  As a kid, you seem to be able to pick up skills naturally and everything seems to make sense. As an adult, the smallest new skill to learn can seem daunting. What do you mean I need to learn how to program the clock on the new microwave?

How exactly do you learn something new? The way I learn changed throughout university and it wasn’t until after university that I established exactly how to learn something new with ease, go figure. I believe the secret to learning something new is all in how you approach the desired goal. Being prepared to learn something new is half the effort in my mind, the rest is just putting in the time. This simple technique has helped me gain the skills I needed to get my dream job (mostly learning about the social media space).

Here is how I go about learning something new:

  • Figure out exactly what you want to learn (remember: can’t be an expert right away)
  • Figure out how you can break it up into logical steps (milestones)
  • Focus on one step at a time

That’s it, pretty simple. The idea is to get a sense of the bigger picture so that you can grasp and focus on the valuable components of the desired skill. I spend a good chunk of time at the table of contents or researching important sub-skills, which allows me to build a model of what the skill will look like when I am done.

Let me ask again, how exactly do you learn something new? Maybe together we can actually come up with the foolproof way to learn a new task. Everyone has a trick, what’s yours?

photo credit: Dan McKay

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