It’s easy to feel like an old dog can’t learn new tricks, which can leave you feeling stumped professionally or personally. Be it for job advancement or a new hobby, it’s important to realize that skills aren’t inherent, and neither is talent. All of it can be learned if you just break it down the right way.
- Craft an Obsession:
The word obsession has a stigma, but it can be a positive thing. You need the motivation to be learning something new. You have to have the drive to keep you moving forward when you get stuck. Your mission or goal does not have to be very ambitious or all-consuming, but you do need to have the deep desire for betterment and to understand the fundamentals of the task you are trying to learn. There are certain ways to craft your mission:
- Give it a name. A vague desire to perform better at your job does not help you. A specific desire to better understand the technological advancements of your field, on the other hand, can take you right to the place where you can acquire knowledge and start teaching yourself.
- Make a specific objective. Do you want to speak French well enough to travel there, or do you want to be fluent enough to discuss philosophy? Whatever task you are undertaking, it’s important to refine the exact details.
- Constrain the scope: It’s easy to plan big and come up short. Feeling like you’ve achieved something is the impetus you’ll need to push forward. Rather than wanting to teach yourself to code, pick a programming language and teach yourself to write a simple script. Once you know how to do that you can move on to teaching yourself bigger and better things, feeling like you’ve already accomplished a goal.
- Hit the challenge spot.
- Long-term Retention:
The first step against the long-term decay of memory is to learn it in a better way the very first time you do it. Learning with the goal of understanding promotes the best long-term retention.
Whatever task that you want to do or whatever goal that you want to accomplish, you should try to understand what you are actually learning from all of this, and what the core of the task is. Deconstruct your task to underlying components and understand what the building blocks are. Can you refine your knowledge to the 20% most useful core ideas of your task and explain it in a five-minute conversation?
- Flexible Curriculum
Next, you have to gather the materials. Start by identifying your materials you need to make a baseline understanding of the task or goal you are learning about, and then break it down into interchangeable chunks. All too often we get stuck in learning something new because we are told that understanding this step is the only way to move on. Often, that just isn’t true. Once you break down the foundational understanding of what you are learning, most of those building blocks can be learned in any order. The important point with the curriculum is not to get overwhelmed. You have to construct a flexible curriculum and work around it at your own pace and speed.
- Feedback Mechanisms:
Feedback is essential when it comes to learning something. Feedback helps you to guide your progress from the starting stage. For instance, if you cannot code a simple script, speak your language without looking at the words, or if you are failing practice tests, then you know that there is a problem with your learning methods. The other reason for the need of feedback is that thinking about the feedback mechanism helps to promote the efficient learning methods. Two ways to incorporate feedback:
- Producing something
- Practicing something
The provision of feedback is not guaranteed in these two steps, however, if you are doing either of them as a significant amount of your learning time, then you will most likely get your feedback.
There are two methods to make a compelling schedule that you will stick to till the end and not get bored with. The first half is in preparation because without a compelling mission it becomes easy to just quit and without the curriculum, it becomes easy to get bored. The second half is in establishing a schedule that allows you to follow with the specific task that you want to accomplish. Making things measurable in small doses, and then planning out those small doses keeps you from getting overwhelmed or quitting.
There are very few things that a person cannot learn with the right planning and the right motivation. Just don’t give up, and you’ll be sure to succeed!