You have big dreams that ignite your soul. You want to live those dreams today. Yet, you’re not equipped with the skills that’ll lead you to those dreams. You need to get better. You need to learn new skills. You need to take your abilities to the next level and a few levels beyond that before those dreams are within reach. The faster you learn these skills, the faster you’ll achieve your dreams.
Here are 4 essential steps to learn or improve any skill more effectively:
1. Know Your Why
When you don’t know why you want the goals you’re pursuing, it’s easy to be pushed off course by the many things that go wrong in the process. Once you’re off track, you don’t have compelling reasons pulling you back to try again. On the other hand, when you know your why, you’re motivated to take action and persevere past the roadblocks.
The more captivating your whys are, the stronger their gravitational pull is towards your goals. A mediocre why is wanting a promotion at work because you want to make more money but not knowing what you want do with the extra money.
A better why is wanting a promotion because you want to buy a house. The second why provides more motivation to take massive action towards that promotion. Find the purpose that guides you. Know your why before you set a goal or start learning new skills.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford
2. Cultivate a Winning Attitude
Learning new skills is hard. There’s a learning curve you must go through before you get good. While you’re improving, you spend most of your time outside of your comfort zone.
You’re reaching past the edge of your current abilities. You’re failing over and over again as you improve your skill level. There’s no way around these challenges. To add a new skill to your toolbox, you have to accept that you’ll be bad at the skill for a while.
A winning attitude allows you to embrace the failures by reframing them as a natural part of the learning process. With this mindset, the failures become a step towards your goal instead of a roadblock holding you back. With a productive mindset, you can overcome the feelings of doubt that creep in about whether you’ll get better over time.
The right mindset even allows you to enjoy the process by celebrating the small wins early on, which means you’ll be more likely to practice more often and more effectively. The more you practice at the edge of your abilities, the faster you’ll learn the skill.
3. Develop a Roadmap
Once you have powerful motivators and a productive mindset, it’s time to create a roadmap that guides you to where you want to go. How long will it take to learn the new skill? What are the markers along the way that let you know that you’re on track? What do you have to do on a daily basis to ensure you’re making enough progress?
Your plan answers all these questions. The plan is the GPS that guides you in the long-run as well as the short-term. It tells you when you need to recalibrate your efforts to get back on track towards your destination.
It tells you where you are and how far you need to go. It removes and reduces uncertainty and risk. The more time you spend developing your plan and tweaking it along the way, the smoother your journey towards your goal.
The best plans identify the major pain points that cause people to give up on learning the new skill. When you anticipate the things that can (and probably will) go wrong, you can develop strategies to overcome those setbacks before they even occur. It’s like having a superpower that boosts the odds of your success. The more detailed and flexible your plan is, the faster you’ll learn the new skill.
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson
4. Add Doses of Accountability
When you procrastinate and put in uninspired effort, what keeps you honest? When you’re improvising instead of following your plan, what nudges you back towards sticking to your plan? If you don’t have accountability, it’s much harder to get back on course when you lose your way.
You can learn to make yourself accountable. You can hold yourself to a high standard of following through on what you say you’re going to do. That’s a crucial dose of accountability. Without it, you become one of those people who say they’re going to achieve x,y, and z while never taking the action to make those goals a reality.
You can add another layer of accountability by asking a friend to check-in on your progress on a weekly basis. This adds more checks and balances that serve to keep you on the path you laid out for yourself. The more layers of accountability you build, the faster you’ll learn the new skill.
What helps you improve your skills? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com.