The more smartly-practiced skills you learn, the faster you’ll learn other connected skills. And knowing your skill mastery and the direction they’re going gives you the clarity on what to learn next for maximum learning efficiency.
Never Stop Learning
As I frequently write about, I learn 3 new skills every month. It’s a “calculated” approach that helps improve different areas of the brain or body. I strongly encourage you to read it first, or bookmark it if you don’t have time to read it now.
Learning 3 new skills every month completely changed my life for the better. I’m a much better person than I was 9months ago. And trust me, it’s not as hard as you think it is. In fact, most of us do learn 3 new skills every month without knowing it. Being aware of it makes all the difference.
However, the 3 skills a month approach is not without criticism. I’ve had the same questions multiple times, so I thought it might be interesting to write about. I narrowed it down to one question, which I hope answers all.
Why Are You Learning 3 New Skills Every Month?
1. Because They Are Useful
I will start by saying there are (almost) no useless skills.
Everything I aim to learn has a purpose. The first skills I chose were: classifying documents using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop and Learning The Past and Future Tenses In Spanish.
In one of the current startups I’m working on right now requires my acquired ML skills.
When working on my game, I can now draw decent enough sketches/drafts for my artists to understand my vision.
I moved to Spain 2 months after learning the past and future tenses in Spanish. I had no idea I would go to Spain at the time.
I use and improve these skills pretty much every day now. The progress has become organic.
I picked up storytelling, public speaking, conversational Spanish, bodybuilding for an ectomorph, dropshipping for eCommerce, investing smartly, photography, non-fiction writing, meditation, journaling, and much more.
In total, I learned 27 new skills in 9 months.
2. Because I Build Stronger Connections
I work from co-working spaces. I work with people from all over the globe with different backgrounds. As such, it’s not always easy to have deep conversations if you have nothing in common.
By learning so many skills, there’s a much higher chance that I’m going to find something that unites me with another person.
I’ve connected with people I would never connect with normally, and these connections ended up being some of my strongest connections.
3. Because I Discover Hidden Talents Or Passions
I didn’t aim to write. I didn’t aim to take photos.
Yet I’m now getting paid to do both.
If I didn’t try them as new skills, I would never have known that 1. I’d be good enough at them, and 2. I’d really grow to like them.
As I mention in another other story, we pigeonhole ourselves into specific things that we are/do. I’m a software engineer. Most of the skills I learn are counter-intuitive to that.
4. Because The More You Know The Faster You Learn
For me that is the best reason. Learning constantly, at a faster pace. There’s (almost) nothing I enjoy more in life than learning. It’s such a great feeling when you reach a level of mastery you never knew you could reach before.
Here are a few powerful quotes on learning:
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery
“Approach everything with an open mind, with a learning mind. You will never stop learning as long as you keep the mindset that everything works, because everything does work. There’s a time and a place for every single move. If you work on it enough, it will work.” — Conor McGregor
“The person who can learn from everything will beat out the person who judges harshly who and what to learn from.” — James Altucher
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
I’ve been doing for 9months now.
I am more skilled;
I have stronger connections;
I have new passions; and
I learn much faster.
You want more skills, stronger connections, discover new talents and learn faster?
I strongly suggest you try the 3 new skills approach.
You’ll see, all aspects of your life will improve. Maybe not the first month, but you’ll build momentum and get there.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing ! :)
First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/4-reasons-why-skill-development-can-make-your-life-much-better-ab8684368935
How To Become More Skilled And Why It Matters
Let’s define the word “Skill” as such: “the ability to do something well, not professionally”.
I’m a video game programmer by trade. That’s what I do for a living. Yet every time someone asks me “who are you?”, “what do you do?”, “where are you from?”, I never know how to answer.
What is it that we do, really?
What defines who we are?
We pigeonhole ourselves to very specific traits that define us, limiting our ability to reason with our brain about our capacities.
By saying I’m a game programmer, I’m letting my brain think that I can only do logical tasks like programming.
For the longest time, I thought I could not do creative things like drawing, because I’m a logical person. Again pigeonholing myself to being “logical”.
Teaching your brain that you can do more leads to great results.
What if I told you I’m rock climber, a bodybuilder, an artist, a photographer, a translator, an English teacher, a traveler, a public speaker, an AI programmer, a video game developer, a game designer and a movie/trailer maker — in no particular order.
Would you believe me? Most likely not, right?
All the above skills require working completely different parts of the brain. Yet I can do the above to a level where I’m confident enough to call them a skill.
And I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to motivate readers.
How It All Started
A few months ago, I was reading and watching videos on how to learn new skills. Like most people, I was sure I didn’t have the time to learn new skills outside of my realm of expertise. After all, I worked 10 hours per day, 6–7 days per week. Those videos inspired me to experiment. Out of those experiments, I’ve created a “framework” for myself and since then I’ve been able to consistently learn 3 new skills per month. I’ll show you some of my tips here.
In short, the key is: Consistency, Usefulness and Momentum… CUM. You’ll remember it!
“Will” comes for free if you’re consistently doing things you consider useful.
How to choose your new skills
First off, choose 3 skills that use completely different sections of the brain.
I’m certainly no brain expert, but here are a few categories of skills that I’m almost 100% sure use different parts of the brain:
Logic/Science (Programming, Math, Physics, etc.)
Creative (Art, Music, Writing, Design, Movies, etc.)
Health (Nutrition, Body-building, Sports)
Speech (public speaking, speed, tone, etc.)
The first month I tried Logic, Creative and Languages, more specifically: Categorization using Machine Learning, Drawing using Photoshop and Past and Future tenses in Spanish.
Be Specific and Realistic
As you can see, these are very specific subsets of skills. You have to be realistic!
What if I chose Programming, Drawing and Spanish?
This is way too broad!
Where do I start? What is it really? How the heck can I learn all that in one month! How do you track progress on that?
Being realistic and specific will help you focus and stay motivated, and ultimately help you stay consistent in your practice. More on that next!
How To Be Consistent
Practice each skill 30 minutes per day
Thirty minutes for each skill is achievable. If it’s unreasonable for you, just reduce to 1–2 skills instead. Sometimes I do 2 skills in a month.
And is 30 minutes each day enough to learn a skill?
I say yes.
Remember our definition at the top: “the ability to do something well”. In 15 hours (30 minutes X 30 days), you can learn A LOT.
Have a schedule
No buts. It’s a life/death deal. Be extreme in telling your brain that you HAVE TO do it or something bad will happen. This is made easier if you do it consistently at the same time every day. I practice on weekends also. I don’t want to break the momentum. More on that later.
Learning new skills requires energy, much more than doing things you know. For that reason, I do them when I’ve got the highest amount of energy. For me, that’s 30 minutes each skill, starting at 6am every morning. It will be different for you.
Most skills can be practiced passively. That is, without you actually “spending” time practicing them.
During your day, you spend a lot of time doing passive things: Commuting to work, basic cooking, doing the dishing, health hygiene, etc. I bet for most people, that’s at least one hour of their day.
Use this time to learn passively.
Most skills have good theoretical knowledge required. It’s not hard to find good articles online, podcasts and videos to teach you the theory required to learn a skill. Just put your headphones on and learn while doing those passive activities. Learn the jargon, the techniques, etc.
Expert tip: put the playback speed above 1x. It takes getting used to, but it’s worth it in the end!
Of course, don’t spend all your time on theory! I spend at least 75% of my time on practice over the course of a month.
How To Build Momentum
The more you learn about a topic, the faster you’ll learn it.
You have to track your progress.
Your brain needs a little dopamine rush to keep you going. When you start listing skills you’re interested in learning, give yourself milestones with hard deadlines. Break down the skill in manageable sub-skills required to reach the status of “acquired”.
The simplest way to track progress is to have simple checkboxes. Once you feel like you’re good enough in the sub-skill, check that box!
By the end of the month, you should have plenty of momentum. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it. You can choose to continue learning the skill, find a complementary skill, or do something else entirely.
Continue Learning; or
You can always be better at anything you do. Take advantage of the momentum and accelerate your learning even more. Try to become a “master” at it.
Find a complementary skill; or
Take advantage of the momentum to learn something complementary. Focus on a more specific subset of a particular skill, or a different branch. Learn a new language tense or vocabulary, learn new Photoshop techniques, learn new Machine Learning principles, etc.
Do something else entirely.
Some say that to find success, you must focus on a particular set of skills. I personally challenge this “rule”. I like diversity. I like to be adaptable. I like to relate to other people’s stories. I feel like I’m a better person for it.
Doing something else entirely breaks the momentum for that skill, but the success you had from learning previous skills should carry over and keep you motivated. Your brain will now accept that you can indeed learn things you never knew you could.
This is the first step to becoming a polymath.
You can learn anything in life, provided you find Usefulness in it, are Consistent about practicing it and keep the Momentum going.
Learning 3 new skills is not even a challenge with the right mindset.
Remember: Don’t skip. Do. Even when you don’t want to.
You can do this!
Thanks for reading, clapping and sharing! :)
First published here: https://medium.com/swlh/skill-the-f-up-4b1c31f851fd