Everyone has been there at some point. You set a goal to learn something new, outlining what needs to be done to accomplish it. The first few days or even weeks go well. But eventually a wall looms. Procrastination sets in, priorities shift, and motivation stalls.
The new skill joins the list of “I’ll get around to it someday”.
There is a way to get over that wall and learn that skill. Here are five tips to help you achieve your goals and reinvigorate your desire to learn.
5 Tips for Learning New Skills
Focus on Why
It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day monotony of learning. This can cause a loss of vision, making it hard to remember why you wanted to learn in the first place. Eventually focus is lost, and the energy needed to keep moving forward becomes unbearable.
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best when he said, “The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough.” Write down your ‘why’ and put it in a place you’ll see it every day. When things get rough, return to it.
See Motivation as Important not Necessary
We often see motivation as the holy grail of achievement. Without it, goals seem far away and it can be a struggle to find the desire to keep learning. It’s as if leaden weights are tied to our feet, slowing us down and making every step harder than the last.
While being motivated certainly helps, it isn’t entirely necessary. As Melissa Dahl, a journalist, puts it, “You don’t have to feel like getting something done in order to actually get it done”. In other words, we may be motivated to learn even if we don’t feel like we are. It’s living with and working alongside those feelings of procrastination rather than fighting them.
Talk Positively to Yourself
Self-talk, or our inner dialogue with ourselves, is a big influence on our mood and desires. Most people aren’t even aware of it most of the time. But when times get rough, positive self-talk can make all the difference in pushing through.
A study took athletes and had them do a few track events such as a 30-minute run. They were told to run as far and fast as they could during this time frame. They then took another group and told them to do the same, but this time with positive self-talk. Those who had the self-talk present “produced significantly greater persistence than the association or control conditions”. No matter the task, self-talk helps you run farther, and push harder.
Break the Goal Down
Getting started can be the hardest part of learning a new skill. For writers, the analogy of the empty white page resonates from the most amateur to professionals. This daunting look at the whole of what needs to be done can be demotivating and encourage negative thoughts.
Breaking the goal down into smaller, more manageable chunks is key to making progress. It manages expectations, allows you to focus better, and rewards you often during the process. How small the goal needs to be broken down is dependent on the goal. Focus on meaningful parts, and make sure the smaller goals can be achieved regularly in order to keep energy up.
Get Help from Others
Learning a new skill alone can feel impossible. You end up having to rely on yourself for not only the learning but the motivation, goal setting, and accountability. Managing so many working parts can be difficult and demoralizing to say the least.
Leaning on others can go a long way to helping you learn. According to the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), who did a study on accountability, there is a 65% likelihood of completing a goal if you are accountable to someone. That number increases up to 95% if you have regular follow-ups with said person.
Learning a new skill can be exciting and daunting at the same time. If you are looking for a new skill to learn, you can always check out CEWT’s catalog and sign up for a class or course taught by certified instructors and experts.
You can achieve your goals of learning something new. You just need to take the first step.