Learning a new skill is on everyone’s agenda. Whether it’s becoming fluent in a foreign language or simply having something as an asset, skills are undeniably valuable. While being able to teach yourself something instantly is the Facebook community’s most desired superpower, it isn’t all that easy. However, it’s definitely possible.
Firstly, find a skill you are passionate about. What is something you’ve always wanted to learn to do? Forget difficulty levels for now, and go beyond a “just for fun” mindset. Consider the skill as something that will be vital to your life (and anyway, it may be).
Things may be easier if you consider your own skills. Some activities require good memory retention or an ability to accurately follow instructions. If you can already check certain “pre-requisites” off a list, your chances at becoming an expert at your new skill are significantly higher.
Once you’ve picked your skill, set realistic goals. Figure out what your primary motivation is. Do you want to learn to draw because a university elective requires it? Or do you want to impress a colleague? Whatever the case, make these goals meaningful to you, however shallow they may seem. Your bar should be at a defined level of expertise. If you want to become knowledgeable in a language, are you seeking full comprehension or get-by conversation? Gauge your own strengths and weaknesses in regards to this particular skill.
If you’re training yourself to become proficient in something you’ve never done before, chances are, you want to learn fast. If you can’t, don’t let your pace discourage you. On the ground, sloths move 2 meters a minute. It’s a stretch, but they get the job done. Manage your expectations and also set a deadline. When will this skill be most useful to you? Figure things out far in advance. If your chosen skill is writing fiction and you’re keen on entering a short story contest, don’t hesitate. Dive in!
Break down the skill. If you’re into photography, you’re going to have to learn the ropes of using cameras and editing tools. Skills can be two or even three-fold — making a list of what you have to tackle will come in handy. It’s kind of like throwing together a deconstructed meal. Be visual about it. Build graphs and brain maps (they may sound pretty juvenile, but they are useful — I promise!).
Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it your mantra and remember: consistency is your friend. You can learn a perfect Pachelbel Canon on the piano but fail to retain certain strokes because you don’t practice enough. On that note, don’t overwork yourself. It’s the same principle as studying too hard for an exam. While it’s great for your short-term memory, the stress will tire your mind.
Every now and then, you’ll feel like giving up. “It’s too difficult,” is a phrase that nobody is alien to. Identify your pain points. What do you know you’ll struggle with? If it’s hand-eye coordination or remembering sequences, figure out the best way to overcome these struggles. Most importantly, remember your motivation.
Maybe there is a charm that comes with being a natural at something. However, it doesn’t mean making the effort is any less attractive!