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Try These 5 Steps For Learning New

Skills Faster
It’s all about divide and conquer.

[PHOTO: FLICKR USER LUIGI MENGATO]




BY SEAN KIM5 MINUTE READ

Being able to pick up a new skill quickly is an asset in today’s workplace, but
our typical learning habits aren’t always speedy enough. By breaking your
goal down into its component parts, you can actually speed up your learning
time.

Why? Because many complex skills–from playing a musical instrument to


learning a language–are just bundles of smaller sub-skills. By deconstructing
the larger skill into all its component parts, you’ll not only be able to chip away
at each one piece by piece, you’ll also be able to understand how they all
relate.

Bestselling author Tim Ferriss offers a helpful framework, called “DiSSS,” to


help you take on major learning challenges this way:

 Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units I should start


with?
 Selection: Which 20% of the units should I focus on in order to get 80%
of the outcome I want?
 Sequencing: In what order should I learn those units?
 Stakes: What stakes can I set up to create real consequences and ensure
that I follow the program?

Taking a cue from Ferriss’s DiSSS strategy, here are five steps you can take
to deconstruct any skill you’d like to learn faster.
1. SET A GOAL

Knowing your end goal is the critical first step to learning anything. It’s what
will keep you moving in a consistent direction, especially when things get
tough–which they will. So it’s important you define your goal as concretely as
you can.

Trying to learn something voluntarily just for the sake of learning rarely lasts
long.

Say you want to learn a new language. What exactly does mastery look like?
The great thing is that you get to decide. For instance, it could be reaching a
level of conversational fluency that lets you hold a 60-minute conversation
with a native speaker. Or you could set the bar lower. It’s up to you.

When you set your goal, try to identify the bigger purpose that’s motivating it.
Why do you want to learn this skill and not some other? What will you do with
it once you do? Trying to learn something voluntarily just for the sake of
learning rarely lasts long.

It’s okay to be ambitious. When Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school’s
varsity basketball team as a sophomore, he didn’t wake up every morning to
shoot thousands of free throws so he could make it the next year. His goal
was to become the best.

2 . B R E A K I T DOW N

Now the deconstruction begins. Start by doing some research into whichever
skill you want to master, keeping in mind the specific goal and underlying
purpose you’ve set for yourself.

As you find out more about the skill, start listing all the components involved in
learning it, no matter how small. Pin down as many as you can, but don’t
worry about getting everything. You might not know all the components
involved until after you start. The point is to start thinking analytically from the
very outset.

For instance, if you want to master public speaking, these are a few of the
sub-skills things you might sketch out:

 Body language
o hand gestures
o eye contact
o walking style and speed
 Presentation
o slide content
o design
o sequence and speed
 Delivery
o tone and style
o speaking volume
o speed

Laying out all these individual components will help you get a grasp of them
without feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, you can now see which parts
you need to focus your efforts on to reach your goal.

3 . T HI N K O F A L L T H E R E A S O N S YO U M I G HT G I V E U P

The first few weeks or even days of learning a new skill is the hardest. The
beginning–when we’re confronted for the first time with how much we don’t yet
know how to do–is when we’re most liable to lose our motivation and quit.

We all lose motivation eventually, and it’s better to know how you’ll deal with it
ahead of time.

Be honest with yourself and make a list of them. Then, for at least your first
five practice sessions, try to avoid any of the pitfalls you’ve outlined. Needless
to say, many of them will be related to the sub-skills you’ve identified. If you’re
learning a language, one deterrent might be having to take the bus to meet
with the local coach you’ve connected with, then doing practice exercises after
the lessons. So maybe for your first five lessons, you’ll decide to meet with
your language teacher through a video chat.

Tim Ferriss did something similar when he learned to swim. The pain points
he identified were difficulty breathing and exhaustion from kicking. He foresaw
how those things might frustrate him and lead him to give up, so
he discovered “total immersion swimming,” a form of shallow-water swim
training.

We all lose motivation eventually, and it’s better to know how you’ll deal with it
ahead of time. It’s just a question of preparation.

4 . FO C U S O N T HE 2 0 %
According to Pareto’s Principle, 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your
desired outcome.

Here’s where breaking down your goal into those sub-skills is really important.
Of all the ones you identified, which fifth of them are the most essential to
master?

If you’re learning guitar, it could be memorizing the four chords that make up a
majority of pop songs. If you’re trying to become a better cook, it could be
mastering three basic techniques that have the widest number of
applications–say, for instance, frying, braising, and sautéing. In other words,
whichever sub-skills you decide to focus on, make sure they’re the most
impactful ones.

5 . FO C U S O N O NE S UB - S K I L L A T A T T I ME

Even after you’ve zeroed in on the 20% of sub-skills to pay close attention to,
it might still be tempting to try learning more than one of them simultaneously.
Many of us already struggle to multitask when it comes to things we already
know how to do, so trying to learn more than one new skill at once is just
about guaranteed to drag down your progress.

As the founder of the language coaching platform Rype, I hear from dozens of
aspiring language students every week who are attempting to master
conversational and writing skills when they’ve yet to learn basic grammar
rules. Start small, stay focused, and build up.

Remember that the first step is deconstructing your skill, and if you can
manage to do this properly, you’re well on your way to mastery.

Sean Kim is the founder and CEO of Rype, your personal language coaching
platform. He’s a frequent contributor to The Next Web, Huffington Post, and
Entrepreneur, and blogs at The Growth List.

17 Steps To Acquiring A New Skill


Faster Than You Thought Possible
Thai Nguyen
A Professional Re-inventer: Thai's a 5-Star Chef, International Kickboxer, and
Mindfulness-Meditation Coach. Full Bio
In the movie Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and
group possessed to learn anything in the matter of seconds. To download the
ability to fly a helicopter and fight like Bruce Lee. With the incredible rise in
technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a
reality than you realize. Our current generation being marked as the age of
knowledge and information, through the internet we are able to access all
sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question.
Furthermore, the whole idea being a natural born genius is being questioned
and replaced more with the gift of being able to learn a skill.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style rapid learning.

1. Deconstruct & Reverse Engineer


Break the skill that you are desiring to learn down into little pieces and master
an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole
skill. For example, learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord
pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you
are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the
strumming.

2. Pareto Principle
Identify the 20% work that will give you 80% of the results. In learning a
language it does not take long to realize that there are a few very kew words
that pop up over and over again. You can do a quick search for “most
commonly used French words” for example and begin to learn them first
before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes (not steaks)


Establish and implement some sort of punishment for you in not learning the
skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a
donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals.
Place a bet with a friend to light that fire under your bottom.

4. Record Yourself
Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistake and identify
areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians,
actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group
There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn
from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it is
a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected
with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel
Visit the Library. Although everything is becoming more and more online,
there are still such things called libraries. Whether it is a municipal library or
your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available
there that are not accessible online. Specifically search out the hidden
treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon
Imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else
do it. Mimic what you see. Visual learning is a great way to speed up the
learning process. Youtube has thousands of videos on almost every topic
available.

8. F.O.C.U.S.
Follow one course until success! It is easy to get distracted, to throw in the
towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you
initially set out to do. There are a lot of conversations calling to ditch the whole
idea of multitasking as it has been shown to be detrimental and a myth.
Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize
The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is
imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before
attempting the real thing. Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each
step that you need to make to see results.

10. Find a Mentor


Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an
expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made. Finding out
what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning of a new skill. It is
a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done.
Reach out and send an email to them.

11. Sleep On It
Practice your new skill within 4 hours of going to sleep. Josh Kaufman is a
noted rapid learning expert and tells us that any practice done within this time
frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural
pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics needed are ingrained at a
quicker level.

12. The 20 Hour Rule


Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magical number of hours
to dedicate to learning the new skill. His reasoning is that everyone will hit a
wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours
is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.
13. Learn By Doing
It is easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to do
something and never actually get around to doing it. The best way to learn is
to do. Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are continually
physically engaged. Keep alternating between research and
practice…research…practice…

14. Short Sprints


Rather than try to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication,
work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and have a stretch or
take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks
and so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

15. Ditch the Distractions


Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning
progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check
any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Before you sit down
to practice, make sure whatever potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Nootropics
Otherwise known as brain enhancers. These cognitive boosters are available
in natural herbal forms and in supplements. Many student will swear by the
increased focus that nootropics will provide, particularly as they get set for
some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for
thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

17. Celebrate
Every single little win that you experience on the learning process, be sure to
celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your
hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give
yourself a pat on the back. This will encourage you to press on toward the
goal!

Most of all, have fun. Learning a new skill should be exciting and something
you cannot wait to practice every day. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the
end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation. To
love life is to continually be learning and challenging yourself.