Lifelong learning is essential these days in order to just keep up let alone get ahead. The rate of change is rapid and getting faster all the time. In order to equip ourselves, we all need to constantly grow and develop. It is necessary to constantly learn new skills.
Sounds daunting? It is easier than you imagine.
Why it is important to learn new skills
There are many reasons to develop new skills and the importance and benefits can vary from person to person. The truth is that much of what we do today was not even a thing when we were young. Many skills we had as children are no longer relevant today.
You can learn new skills at any age but it does become slightly more challenging as we get older. The sooner you start the better. As you become more accustomed to adapting and learning it will become easier to acquire new skills.
Here are a few reasons it is important to constantly learn new skills:
It keeps your brain active
The brain needs exercise just like your muscles. The more you use it the stronger it will become. This will make your mental faculties sharper and even stave off degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Increase your ability to learn
Following on from the above, the more you learn new skills the easier it will become. A bit of practice will improve the rate at which you can learn new skills and make it easier and faster as you go.
Realize those childhood dreams
We all had lofty dreams in our youth. Many people, consciously or subconsciously regret not pursuing them. Some are likely to be unrealistic but many are achievable and worth pursuing. Get around to achieving some of those early ambitions.
Improve your happiness
Developing new skills can increase your happiness. It will give you a sense of accomplishment and the achievement could well increase your happiness. Don’t live with regret.
Increase social interaction
New skills often lead to new social interactions that could lead to meaningful relationships. Human interaction is important and new friendships are beneficial.
Become more independent
This does not contradict the above benefit. As much as we need social interaction we also need to function independently. New skills can provide the ideal platform for independent discovery and growth.
Improve your resume
New skills will naturally make you more employable. Even if the skills are not directly related to the position you are seeking they will make you more well-rounded and therefore more attractive to employers.
You might be looking for a promotion that could be more achievable with new skills. Learning a new language could give you more opportunity for foreign travel and greater responsibility. You might even want to change career direction altogether and a new skill or two is required. Whatever your reasons, new skills will improve your resume.
Discover a hidden talent or passion
If you have not tried new skills you might not discover certain talents or passions. This can lead to many exciting opportunities and great development.
Why many people do not develop new skills
Most of us are afraid of failure. Often the status quo is enough for is, or so we believe. The truth is that you will not appreciate change and growth until you reach it.
We do not want to commit to new skill development. Life is complicated, it is busy. New development often takes a back seat. We often think that the current skills and abilities we have are enough to take us through life. Often this is not the case.
Learning a new skill can be daunting. We often fear the unknown. Once you start the habit of learning new skills you will realize that it is easier than you think. At first, it can be scary and difficult but you will soon get into the groove. The more progress you make the more encouraged you will become and the easier the task will be.
Stop doubting your abilities and take the plunge. You will soon realize that, if approached in the right way, new skills are much easier to learn than you thought.
14 Tips for learning a new skill
Here are a few guidelines to help you learn new skills:
The first step is to get going. Life will always be busy and there is never a perfect time to learn a new skill. Don’t procrastinate or look for excuses. Once you get going you will find that there is time. The practice of learning will soon become a habit and it will just get easier as you go. The important thing is to get started.
Commit to learning a new skill
You need to make a firm commitment with yourself and possibly your partner or family. You will have to make some sacrifices when learning a new skill so be prepared for this and accept it. Discuss it with any others it may affect and get them to understand that it is important to you.
Decide on what skill you wish to learn first
Before you can start learning you need to work out what it is you want to learn. It should obviously be something that interests you or will have some importance or benefit to you. Take the time to give this serious thought so that you make the correct decision. You don’t want to invest time and effort only to discover that the skill you are learning does not interest you.
You might already have a clear idea of what it is you want to earn. If not, there are many ways to brainstorm ideas. You can make lists of your interests, browse online for ideas, watch videos or look at magazines. The more meaning and significance the learning has the easier it will be.
As with all important things in life, it helps to have goals. These should be based on the regular goal setting concept. They should be specific, measurable, achievable and realistic, and have a time frame. Saying, for example, you want to learn a new language is not enough. Sating you want to be able to converse in Italian in 3 months is better.
Commit your goal to writing. It may be an idea to put it up somewhere you will see it regularly such as next to your mirror or on the fridge. This will give you a constant reminder and will inspire you to stick to your goal. The ultimate goal could be broken down into smaller goals to make it more achievable.
Plan your learning
Decide on how you are going to learn the skill and find out what you need in order to do this. There are often a number of ways to learn new skills and the internet will help you uncover these. Decide on what system or method will work best for you.
Your plan should also include a timetable of what you intend to learn and when. You do not have to stick to this religiously but it will give you a timeframe to refer to. It is also necessary to have a space to learn and practice the skill. The area must be suitable and conducive to learning. If you are learning to cook you would need a kitchen, obviously, but other skills might just need a quiet room or area.
Part of the planning will involve breaking the skill down into components that need to be addressed. If you plan to learn to play tennis, for example, you will need to work in fitness and strength, your serve, you forehand stroke, backhand and so one. Learning golf would involve many focus areas. Incorporate your goals into this breakdown.
Get the necessary tools and materials needed
You need to be well prepared so that when you start you do not waste time getting learning materials or other items you need for the leaning. You plan should have outlines everything needed. Make sure you have it all ready.
The best way to develop a new skill is practice. That is how the experts make it look so easy. If you look at any accomplished sportsperson, performer, chef, artist or any other skilled person you can imagine, guaranteed they have spent countless hours practicing.
Follow the 80/20 rule
As with many aspects of life and learning, the 80/20 rule is relevant. This means that 20% of your effort, learning or knowledge will account for 20% of what is necessary. This means that you should select your learning content wisely and direct your efforts accordingly.
Some learning will be helpful but only make incremental improvements to your knowledge. Focus on content that will yield the greatest results.
Use multiple learning formats
While some learning styles might suit you better than others, most are useful and beneficial. Experiment with different methods in order to determine which is the fastest and most suitable for you. Fortunately, there are multiple options available these days and it is easy to mix and match a number of formats to speed up your progress.
Another remarkable way to learn and improve a skill is to teach others. Once you have made decent progress with your skill, find some beginners that are also eager to learn the same skill. By teaching them you will grow and improve your own abilities. It will also be rewarding to watch others grow and encourage you in your learning.
Get feedback and test your learning
How will you know if you are making progress and mastering your skill? Some skills are easier to test and measure than others. Singing, for example, can be somewhat subjective. A new language could be tested with written work as well as by talking to someone fluent in the language.
Decide how you will test the skill or solicit feedback and do this at regular intervals. This will help you measure your progress and identify areas that might need additional effort.
Consider a mentor
Look to experts in the skill you are learning and try to find a mentor or teacher. They have years of experience and will be a huge asset. This is especially true once you have mastered the basics and want to take your skill to the next level. Depending on the skill, it does not have to be a paid professional. You will often find people that are simply passionate about their skill and happy to share some time with like-minded individuals. You might be able to give them something in return that will help them with their passion.
A good mentor will speed up your learning process and help you overcome any plateaus you might reach. They have valuable insight and experience that will help you develop and possibly save you time and effort.
Some skills are easier to master than others but all will take dedication, practice, and perseverance. Do not get discouraged when things take time. Enjoy the learning process, remember how much joy the skill will ultimately bring you and avoid the need for instant gratification.
There will be times that you make mistakes or find parts of the learning challenging. Don’t be discouraged and don’t beat yourself up about these. You will overcome the obstacles if you just stick to it.
As much as you do not want to hesitate or procrastinate there is also no major rush. Take your time and savor the acquisition of knowledge. Enjoy the journey and it will make it more pleasurable and easier to continue. The more you learn, the more you will want to learn. If you try to rush the process or put too much pressure on yourself it will make the experience unpleasant.
Learning new skills is fun and exciting. They will broaden your environment and open new opportunities. Invest a bit of time in learning a few new skills and see where they take you.