Mastering a new skill

7 Steps to Mastering a New Skill

It could be argued that life is all about learning new skills. If you learn the right skills, you can be wealthy, play a musical instrument, have a great relationship, or juggle five balls. Mastering a new skill is a skill in itself. There are several ideas to keep in mind as you learn a new skill. Setting goals, getting expert coaching and having reasonable expectations are all important.

Master a new skill quickly and efficiently with these strategies:

  1. Choose an appropriate skill. You don’t have time to learn everything, so pick something meaningful. It can either be a skill that will greatly aid you in some way or a skill that you find fascinating. If the new skill doesn’t fit into one of these two categories, you’re unlikely to stay motivated enough to master it.
  2. Set both long-term and short-term goals. Your long-term goal is mastering your chosen skill. Just how good do you want to be? The short-term goal is no more than 12 weeks in the future. At the end of this short time, you set a goal for how far you want to be after the next few months. This will keep you focused on making continuous progress.
  3. Have reasonable expectations for your progress. Your ultimate progress is virtually unlimited. However, there is a limit to how much you can accomplish in 12 weeks. Realize that you’re unique and your rate of progress could be faster or slower than average.
  1. Break down the skill into its components. For example, playing the piano isn’t just about hitting the correct keys in the correct order. It has several skills interwoven into a larger skill. To be a good pianist, you must be able to do several things well: 
  • Sight-reading
  • Compensating for the fact that some fingers are much stronger than others
  • Understanding music theory
  • Scales
  • Arpeggios
  • Dynamics
  • And more
  1. If appropriate, get a coach. You can learn to play piano by yourself, but you’ll have a hard time finding a high-level pianist that didn’t receive expert instruction. At the very least, find materials created by an expert. These may be in the form of books, videos, webinars, or websites. Even periodic meetings with a coach can keep you on the right track.
  2. Focus on what’s most important. The old adage that 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of your results is true. Determine which activities and skills will yield the greatest results. Most people focus on the activities that are the easiest or the most interesting. Avoid being that person. Your progress will be faster if you focus on the most important tasks.
  • This is often referred to as deliberate practice. Banging on the piano keys while you catch the end of Rocky V isn’t the same as focusing all of your attention on learning how to play a C with both hands.
  1. Get started quickly. Avoid falling into the trap of gathering an excessive amount of information before you get started. The person that masters a skill is the one that spends his time wisely. Watching videos of someone playing the piano isn’t a substitute for doing it yourself. Dive into the practical part of mastery quickly. 

You’ll be surprised by how quickly you learn if you choose an appropriate skill, focus on the most effective tasks, and practice consistently. Learning a new skill can change your life. Choose a skill that will add value to your life and you’ll benefit from it forever.

Sam E. Orum, ECP