As humans, it is in our nature to keep evolving into better versions of ourselves. We need to keep learning new skills as per the demands of the time we live in. This phenomenon of skill development is very important from the perspective of an individual person.
As an individual, if you keep updating your skills, by learning and relearning things, you remain valuable to the world. It is an interesting way to look at life but it’s quite true. After all, we are all merely contributors to the larger machinery of human civilization. And we are only as useful as the skills we possess. So, what are the most effective ways to skill development that will help you remain ahead of the curve? Let’s take a detailed look.
1. Identify The Skills You Want To Develop
One of the first things that you need to do is identify the skills that you want to develop. The number of skills out there is literally infinite. This is because we humans are engaged in countless endeavors, with each requiring its own set of skills and abilities. This presents both an opportunity as well as a challenge. You might get confused as to which one you should pick but you also have many choices, which is a good thing.
In order to make the right choice, ask yourself what you are most comfortable with. Then try and see which of the skills are more valuable and will contribute towards enhancing your life experience. This will help you filter out the many options and arrive at something that is just perfect for you. Once you have nailed down the skill, you can start developing it.
2. Be Clear On The “Why”
We humans work best when we have a sense of purpose. And that comes with goals. You see, when you know you are working towards a particular objective, you are motivated to keep going until you meet it. If you have no goal, you may keep going around in circles, wasting your time in the process. So, to develop a certain skill, you need to be clear on why you want to develop it in the first place.
That’s why one of the first steps is to figure out what you want to achieve. Try to make it something that is meaningful to you. Let’s say your objective is to start an online business. Now, if you want to learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it will make more sense to you. If ever your brain starts questioning why you are even learning SEO, you can simply remind it that you want to attract clients. That way, you are able to stay on track. Being clear on the ‘Why’ is the beginning of skill development.
3. Dedicate A Fixed Time For Skill Development
If you’re trying to learn a new skill, most probably, it is in addition to the work you are already doing. Also, it’s quite natural that you have personal obligations as well. So, it might be difficult to make skill development a priority. We tend to get physically and mentally tired with all the countless tasks we already have to do and the idea of learning something new might not sound too attractive.
However, if you are serious about your goal and the skill you want to develop, you need to make sure that you give it regular time. Only then will you develop it. The most effective way to do that is to dedicate a time slot for it every single day. Then, it will become a part of your routine and won’t seem like an “extra activity”. You need to dedicate a fixed time for effective skill development.
4. Choose Your Resources To Learn From Wisely
There are a ton of resources both online and offline from where you can learn your new skill. These days, online resources are more popular. After all, anything you could want is only a Google search away. There are tons of educational videos and articles that explain things in great depth. Also, there are websites like Master Class that have really become popular owing to their unique and professional approach.
Since there are so many options available, it is essential to choose wisely. Not every resource will be effective in teaching you what you need to learn. They may have their own way of teaching, you may have your own way of learning and you might not feel comfortable with every resource that is out there. So, spend some time researching which one works best for you before diving right in. You need to choose your resources wisely for effective skill development.
5. Use A Learning Method That’s Natural To You
Everyone learns in their own unique ways. You might have discovered how you learn best in your childhood days. Some people may be visual learners, meaning that they learn faster when visuals or illustrations are involved. Some people may prefer reading a subject matter over and over again until it is stored in their long-term memory. And there may even be people who like to learn by listening to something rather than seeing it.
Since this is a deeply personal aspect of people, you need to figure out how you learn best. If you already know it, you need to apply it to the skill you’re trying to develop. For instance, if you’re trying to learn how to play the guitar, you might want to learn by playing instead of learning the theory first. Or if you like nailing down the theoretical aspects first, you could buy a book that has all the info you need to know. The bottom line is, you need to do what works best for you. You need to use a learning method that is natural to you for effective skill development.
6. Get A Mentor/Coach
The value that a mentor or a coach can bring in your life cannot be stressed upon enough. They are someone whom you can look up to. If you have someone like this in your life or if you can find someone who can guide you, your skill development will happen much more effectively and efficiently. One of the most important things to understand is that oftentimes, a mentor has already been where you find yourself currently. So, they are in the best position to help you and guide you.
Another important thing is that mentors and coaches like to see their pupils grow. The moment they notice that you are not progressing in your path, they will step right in and take some corrective measures. The motivation and inspiration they provide are truly priceless. And so, they can prove to be the difference between your success and failure. You need to get a coach or mentor for effective skill development.
7. Deconstruct The Skills Into Smaller Ones
It is a human tendency to get easily overwhelmed with something that appears to be a huge challenge. Of course, this doesn’t happen to everyone but if it does to you, there are ways to deal with it. Let’s say, you want to learn public speaking. On its own, it might seem like a huge goal and you might feel reluctant to even start pursuing it. But, if you deconstruct this skill into smaller ones, all of a sudden, it won’t seem too intimidating.
So, it’s a good idea to break down a skill into smaller ones. Going back to the example of public speaking, you could first start by improving your pronunciation. Then, you could start developing your vocabulary. Similarly, you can slowly start practicing in front of a small group of people (preferably your family or friends), before moving on to larger groups of people. You need to deconstruct the skills into smaller ones for effective skill development.
8. Learn By Doing
One of the best ways to learn something is by actually doing it. That’s because when you implement what you have learned in a real-world scenario, it better cements itself in your brain. Also, your brain is able to figure out in real-time what is working and what is not. This data feedback loop is immensely important and is one of the best ways that the brain learns. It allows your mind to make note of all the ways your learning method can improve to make your skill development for effective.
So, for instance, if you’re learning to speak another language, try to have conversations with yourself (or someone else) in this language. Sure, you may not be as fluent as you want, but your mind will get a lot of useful data on how to improve. You need to learn by doing for effective skill development.
9. Learn With The Intention To Teach
This is a really interesting approach that you can use to one-up your learning game. In this method, you learn with an objective to teach someone else the same thing. This might “look” simplistic but it has profound implications. When you learn with the intention to teach, your mind works in a different way. You become more focused and you start looking for ways to absorb the information more effectively and efficiently. You also look at the subject matter more holistically and examine it thoroughly.
This effect has been shown to be real in studies. In one such study, it was found that people who learned with the intention to teach others did remarkably better than those who learned something for their own sake. And it’s quite easy to practice as well. When you are actively learning something new, you can take on a friend or a family member as a student. Even if they are more of a sounding board, the method will still work. You need to learn with the intention to teach for effective skill development.
10. Keep Practicing Things That You Find Hard
This is something that many people need to understand. No matter what you’re pursuing in life, there will be things that are easy to deal with and there will be things that are difficult. It’s just the nature of life. Also, you as a human are not perfect and there will always be things that are harder for you to absorb. It’s completely okay and there is no need to get overwhelmed by it.
Most people give up on learning a skill when they encounter a tough challenge. This is quite unfortunate. If you’re serious about learning a new skill, you just need to practice the tougher thing again and again, until it becomes second nature. You have probably already done this with the work you are already doing. It’s no different to repeat it to develop a new skill. All the fear and reluctance are merely in your brain and you need to find the courage to overcome them. You need to keep practicing things that you find hard for effective skill development.
11. Ask Your Loved Ones For Support
Most people have a handful of people in their lives that they are really close to. It could be their partners, siblings, parents, friends, and so on. And no matter which journey you embark upon, the love and support of these loved ones will always be very important. When it comes to skill development, you will look up to them to help you along the way.
Help doesn’t always have to be active. It can be passive assistance too. For instance, you could ask your family or friends to keep an eye on you and keep you in line whenever they notice that you are steering off course. They can also maintain peace and quiet in the home when you are practicing your new skill. They could also help you as spectators or listeners when you want to demonstrate your skill or progress. At the end of the day, your loved ones can play a huge role in your skill development.
12. Do It With Someone Else
It is human nature to want to change course or give up on the way for any number of reasons. This is why you see so many people starting something new with great motivation and passion only to, later on, give up on it. A common example of this is joining the gym to improve your fitness and discontinuing it after merely a few days/weeks. This may happen due to a lack of will, motivation, or discipline.
You need to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you. You have to find a way to always remain motivated. A great way to do this is by learning a new skill with someone else. Let’s say you want to learn to program. You could find a friend or a family member to learn the same skill as well. Yes, it can be difficult to find someone who would want to learn the exact same skill, but you never know! Once you start learning it together, though, you will be much more motivated to keep going. Skill development is always better when you are doing it with someone else.
13. Get Regular Feedback
It is important to constantly be aware of how your skill development is going. You need to be aware of the progress you have made and also of the journey that is still left. So, it’s a good idea to get regular feedback from your mentor, coach, family, or friends. This allows you to course-correct, change strategies, or do anything else to ensure that you keep learning the skill you have chosen.
Make sure you perceive your feedback positively. Oftentimes, when someone says something negative about your performance, you might feel discouraged or might even try to defend yourself. This is counter-productive. You need to ensure that you remain positive and see feedback as constructive criticism (if it’s negative). This way, your loved ones will be more willing to tell you how you’re doing instead of holding back their true views. You need to get regular feedback on your skill development process.
14. Remember To Take Breaks
There are some people who don’t like to rest until they have achieved their goal. If you are this way too, you need to realize that learning a new skill is not something you can force. Depending on the skill you’re trying to learn, it can take its own sweet time. The best thing you can do is approach it with a long-term perspective in mind.
To this end, you need to take breaks along the way. This is especially useful if you feel like you have gotten stuck along the way. You might find that taking a break and coming back to it afterward helps you progress even faster. That’s because taking some time out refuels your motivation and re-energizes you mentally. You need to take breaks for effective skill development.
15. Celebrate Milestones
The brain likes to be rewarded for things that you do. That is why the old argument about “sticks vs carrots” often favors the carrots. This applies to your journey of skill development as well. As stated above, you can break down a particular skill into smaller ones. These can become your milestones along the way. If you do this, it’s more likely that you will keep making progress by achieving one milestone after another.
Also, you need to celebrate your milestones. No matter how small it is, you could treat yourself with something you love to do. It could be going out to eat at your favorite restaurant with your loved ones, or it could be buying yourself a small gift. The definition of a celebration truly depends on you. But no matter what it is, if you celebrate your milestones, your mind will remain motivated to keep achieving them. The end result will be that you achieve your larger goal of learning the skill.
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