We tend to consider gaining new skills similar to how we think of winning the lottery:
“Gee, that would be really nice…”
“…Think of everything I can do with that new skill or ability!”
“…But the chances of succeeding at this are very small… mmm, I’ll pass.”
But while the lottery is taxing for those who are too optimistic, you don’t need things like youth, or a high IQ to acquire a new skill that you’ve been contemplating. You just need a little elbow grease and the right learning methods.
Whether you want to study a new topic, acquire a new skill, or simply enhance the ones you already have, these techniques will provide you the framework necessary to achieve mastery.
1. Get rid of your unsuccessful learning strategy
Do you learn visually, kinesthetically, audibly…? Here’s a secret…you aren’t one of those.
In a talk at TEDxUWLaCrosse, Dr. Tesia Marshik explains the following shocking fact: 40 years of research on styles of learning has discovered that joining teaching style with learning style doesn’t make a difference. Through her experiments, Dr. Marshik discovered that students acquire knowledge the same way, regardless of how the material was shown the students.
2. Give it Meaning to You
One key reason why we don’t have “learning styles” is that we learn new stuff in terms of meaning to us. Discovering the meaning to us in our studies is key.
If you attempt to make yourself memorize a bunch of random facts, you are likely to forget them. Remember all of the times you attempted to force yourself to memorize things without understanding their significance to you? In order to have the learning be retained, it’s important to make connections to your own life and visualize how the knowledge fits in with the big picture.
3. Learn New Things through Doing
Humans learner naturally —and we do this best when we do tasks in which we’re attempting to learn. Regardless of your grades in college, most of the learning takes place at the workplace and when you begin applying what you learn.
Let’s say for example that you want to learn SEO. Don’t invest everything in acquiring jargon and theory—dive in ASAP to master the skill via trial and error. Begin writing a blog. Try making some posts. Find out what you do that works for you. The more you practice it, the more new things you learn.
Even better, build new habits that force you to use those new skills. Start small and use rewards to encourage yourself. This will develop a pattern that will encourage you to retain what you learn.