Last Updated on July 22, 2021
I get it!
There are things you’d like to learn but can’t start because of time. You might have started but quit along the way after realizing that it takes more effort. You shouldn’t give up yet!
Why shouldn’t you?
Having a new skill means that you can fulfill your desire, help someone, or turn your skill into a side business without any trouble. You don’t have to leave such benefits behind because you “don’t have time.”
What if I told you that your wish to learn a new skill could happen within a month?
When I started blogging, I didn’t know how to create a website. Although the process is quite simple due to the many templates available online, I wanted to do it from scratch. I had only a couple of days to educate myself about some programming languages used in web development.
So, I went online and checked some tutorials about the subject. I learned the basic building blocks of the Web and a bit about some high-level programming languages.
In short, I was able to launch a simple website just a few hours after I began learning. I have since developed an interest in becoming an expert at it.
What Do Experts Say?
You may have read in books or heard that it takes 10,000 hours to learn something new. This converts to around 417 days without sleep. You’d have to fill yourself with knowledge 20 hours a week for 10 whole years!
Wait. Did walking and talking take that long to learn when you were a baby? Think about a skill you gained when older. I bet the numbers don’t match up?
While speaking at a TEDx event, business coach Josh Kaufman said that 20 hours is all it takes to acquire a skill you knew nothing about. In other words, you only need to spend 45 minutes each day for a month to be good at something. He gave the example of how he practiced playing the ukulele within the same time frame.
The 10,000 hours may apply if you are looking to be among the best in whatever you are learning. For most of us, we only need to know how to do something and aren’t chasing a particular field’s top position. With dedication and efficient practice, you can be good at what you want within 1 month.
Should you be “Very” Intelligent?
In the same talk, Josh stated that skill acquisition’s biggest obstacle is not intellectual but emotional. If you start to feel doubtful about acquiring a skill, it becomes difficult to continue your journey with it. Everything will appear complicated as you try to understand.
Your degree of intelligence can indeed affect your learning process. But I guess that when you first got the thought to learn a skill, you knew you’ve got what it takes. All you have to do is maintain that positive attitude you had in the first place.
Being a Pro Shouldn’t Bother You
There is this misconception that learning anything new should result in becoming an expert. You only need to attain a level that makes you happy without comparing yourself with others. If you make comparisons, the work of “experts” will appear as gold, and you’ll think you “aren’t there yet” for a long time.
An aspiring fashion designer, for example, will always feel troubled when they compare their designs to Donatella Versace or Tom Ford. Keep in mind that professionals have years of experience and advanced productivity tools.
For the most part, you only need the basics to get started. It doesn’t mean you should abandon learning the first moment you become able to do something new. You can advance your skills with time if you feel like doing so.
Take any improvement you make as a win to progress faster in your learning. If several other people think you are doing great, it’s true. That better include the family member or friend that laughs at you all the time!
What Are Some Barriers to Acquiring a New Skill?
Do you wonder why you tried to learn a thing and failed? Here are some possible reasons:
1. You want to learn everything.
Yesterday, you said to yourself that you need to master how Photoshop works. Today, you feel like gaining knowledge about creating an outstanding video of you doing Photoshop tutorials. Tomorrow, techniques to reach more people with your videos will catch your attention.
Here, you want to learn the next thing without acquiring the basics of the first. Focusing on one thing at a time is essential for skill acquisition. Sit down, practice one skill of your choice, and only move to the next after becoming good at the first.
In the previous example, you should first learn how to do Photoshop. After practicing that, you can teach yourself how to create a high-quality tutorial video. Lastly, gather some techniques you can use to promote your video and make it get lots of views.
2. You are scared.
Learning something totally new to you can be intimidating. A whole bunch of things waits for you to understand them, and you question your ability to accomplish the process. You fear what people might say if you end up failing.
Let’s say someone once criticized you or made fun of you after one of your failures. If you feel dumb, you end up creating reasons in your head concerned with how it won’t work for you. In such a case, giving up is the most suited way to escape your worries.
Another thing that can build up this fear is a previous bad experience. Reliving a negative outcome from your past is enough to make you not try something again. All these lead to you never taking action on acquiring the skill.
3. You lack motivation.
Being motivated plays a significant role in learning a new skill. You can complete your learning process quicker and more efficiently with an inner drive. It’s unfortunate how the lack of motivation can affect your dreams.
For instance, you want to learn how to rap, but your mind tells you that you are too old for that. Maybe you have always dreamed of flying a plane, but you are already a lawyer. The person you wanted to impress with your new skill no longer likes you, or you don’t need the money anymore.
Now, look at it from a different perspective. What if your beloved one comes back or your old job vanishes? I guess you still need the skill.
If you set your mind to defeat these three setbacks, you can add many new skills to your life.
7 Proven Steps to Learn a New Skill Fast
Let’s now explore the working ways of learning a new skill within a short time.
1. Define your goal.
Skill acquisition can be difficult if you don’t know what you really want. You only get what you strongly desire. If you are too unspecific with what you want to learn, so will be your paths to being successful.
Whatever you choose to learn should be meaningful to your life. Instead of going for a skill that has unclear values to you, invest time in one that can improve your current lifestyle. You don’t want to learn how to fry fish when you can’t light a fire!
If you have more than one skill to learn, put them down in a list. Look at the impacts of each skill on yourself and others. Will you feel good about yourself, generate income, or put a smile on someone’s face?
A skill that you are passionate about makes you feel good. A lucrative skill can help you build wealth. That which you learn for helping others brings joy in their hearts and strengthens your relationship with them.
Those three aren’t the only objectives for learning a new skill fast. Use them as a guide to finding what you need to achieve with each skill. Start learning whichever is the most useful to you and come back to the others later.
Want to learn more about how to accomplish your dreams? Find out the 3 simple steps to achieve any goal.
2. Set a clear deadline.
Deadlines are a key part of several of our daily activities, but they are undoubtedly necessary for learning a skill. If you have a deadline, you practice the art of completing a task to your satisfaction within a particular period of time. Laziness and distraction won’t have a place in your life.
In this case, you are looking to learn a skill in 1 month. You can even set a closer deadline, such as a week. But you don’t just say, “I want to learn [WHATEVER SKILL] by the end of this week.”
There are several mistakes in the example above. You first need to be specific about the date and time. Second, you should write the deadline in your notebook or on your calendar to keep it at the top of your priority list.
Now, a good deadline should sound something like, “My deadline for completing the whole of [SKILL] is October 31st.” What follows is that you’ll be determined to meet that finishing date.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t let anxiety take its toll on you. Be realistic to avoid overworking yourself.
3. Break down the skill into smaller pieces.
The majority of skills result from combining several small bits. If you focus on one sub-skill at a time, learning becomes manageable and less scary. You can easily figure out the important aspects that require focus to acquire the skill as quickly as possible.
An electronics technician has to dismantle a computer to repair it. Similarly, a doctor performs surgery to explore a critical condition further before diagnosis. The two examples involve separating some parts to accomplish an objective efficiently.
The first thing in deconstructing a skill is listing down all its components. Do this step even if the skill appears as simple. After you start learning, it’s totally fine to add the components you might have left out.
Next, find the sub-skills that are fundamental in acquiring the entire skill. Do this by researching each component to find out its value to you as a beginner. Look at what the specialists in the field say about what requires more attention than the rest.
You can use the Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 rule, which shows that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the efforts behind it. In skill learning, give your energy to the sub-skills that can grant you over 80 percent of your desired outcome.
Take the example of learning the piano. You have to play some Do-Re-Mi’s before trying your favorite pop song. Before you even drop your fingers on the keys, you should be familiar with music notes.
After practicing the foundational sub-skills, you can move to the others in descending order.
4. Identify all the possible obstacles and avoid them.
Minimize the things that get into your way if you want to enjoy the result of what you learned. Your environment should be favorable for focused learning. Get rid of the TV in your room or any other source of entertainment that may obstruct your concentration.
Procrastinating is an enemy of learning. Want never to learn how to play golf? Just leave the golf club inside its bag in the other room or lock it in your storage area. Practicing won’t cross your mind, and you’ll end up with no progress.
When I began to learn advanced website development, I kept my laptop fully charged any time I was home. I also ensured that there were no Internet connection issues so that I could start practicing as soon as it was time for doing so. There was no excuse for me to skip my practice routine.
Another way to eliminate procrastination is by having someone charge you money each moment you skip your scheduled learning. Let them punish you or reveal your secret as an alternative. The harder the punishment you set, the lesser the chances of you ever missing your practice.
Show no mercy to any obstacle that can slow down or end your journey of learning something new.
5. Spread out your learning.
Binge-learning can be tempting when you are excited or crazy about acquiring a skill. If you ever binged any TV show, you probably understand the downsides of consuming too much within a short time.
If you don’t spread out how you learn a skill, you can easily forget some important details. Binging is ineffective because the average human cannot retain all the new information they read, hear, or see each day. This concept varies depending on one’s memory.
The best thing to do is learning in time intervals. Do it in the morning after you wake up or in the evening before you sleep for only 45 minutes or 1 hour. You can include some small breaks to absorb what you learned.
Take advantage of daylight if you are learning from a book because artificial light can cause eye strain. Keep away from pulling an all-nighter. You don’t want to experience fatigue and poor sleep.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Getting someone to guide you is the easiest way to solve the problems you encounter in learning. This way, you get firsthand details from an experienced person in the field. If the help you need is some motivation, you don’t even need an expert. Someone close to you comes in handy for that.
Using the advice of a real person, you don’t have to play trial and error with all the information in books or the Internet. As you may know, choosing between different ways of doing something can be difficult. You may end up wasting a lot of your time and never finding whatever is effective.
You’ll be surprised to discover that all the support you require is living with you or some walking distance away from you. I have experienced faster learning by gathering ideas from the people close to me. If it’s something beyond their realm of expertise, I either find a professional in my neighborhood or contact a consultant online.
Asking for help is also essential for establishing strong relationships with others. It shows that you trust their opinions and believe in their abilities. With such good vibes surrounding you, learning a skill becomes a smooth process.
7. Allow feedback.
Taking well to constructive criticism can be a hard thing to do. As much as it can lower your ego or make you feel bad, it’s necessary for gauging what you have learned. If you weren’t born with this trait, you could still learn it.
In case someone says something negative about how you are doing something, don’t react at all. Take time to process whatever they have said. Embrace any suggested changes that make sense. If the feedback is positive, thank them.
Ask several people what they think about your work. It’s important to get opinions from both your friends and people you don’t frequently interact with. Your friends might not tell you the truth, but a stranger will.
The Beatles, an English rock band formed in 1960, used the immediate feedback from their audience to perfect their music. They are considered the most influential band of all time. That’s the power of feedback!
Practice makes perfect! You must have heard that phrase. Knowledge is powerful but practicing ensures that you take advantage of what you know to get better. You can’t gain experience in something unless you do it several times!