When was the last time you learned something completely new?
It’s uncomfortable to imagine being a beginner at something you know nothing about. What if I fail? What if I waste time and still don’t learn anything I can use to improve my life? Can I get “good enough” to make the most of the new skill?
These a few of the many questions that stop us from pursuing a passion project, or learning a completely new skill.
Learning a new small skill, or making progress on a creative project can vastly improve how you feel about yourself.
Social skills can help you communicate better, or make a good impression on others who matter to your social or work relationships. And each skill can easily boost your ability to learn the next one.
The good news is, you can go from knowing absolutely nothing about something to being quite skilled in only a few months.
Putting in a few hours of focused, deliberate practise daily is all you need to start learning how to speak in public, get better at negotiation, manage people better in a business environment, learn some useful new technology, code, draw, design, cook, dance, play an instrument, start your own side hustle.
You can learn things that’ll permanently enrich your life, and improve your confidence in the process. By learning new things, you’ll start to recognize that you’re capable of more than you might have ever expected. And that will give you a major confidence boost.
Self-confidence reflects a broader view of yourself. “Self-confidence doesn’t magically make you better at what you do, but it does prime you to take the risks necessary to achieve your goals,” writes Eric Ravenscraft.
According to Charlie Houpert, the author of “Charisma on Command,” confidence doesn’t just make you feel better, it also helps you take risks to make tangible improvements to your life.
“Internally, true self-confidence will lead to more positivity, happiness, and resilience,” Houpert said. “Externally, high self-confidence will lead to taking more risks, which directly correlates with reaping more rewards.”
Learning something new makes you feel good about yourself — when you know something thoroughly and are confident about your knowledge of the topics, you feel a personal sense of satisfaction.
According to psychologist Maud Purcell, sticking with what you learn also improves your confidence, She explains, “true confidence develops from an increasing belief that you can rely on yourself to take action and follow-through, no matter what the result.” Teaching yourself something new always leads to more confidence.
Career learning opens up entirely new career prospects for you — almost every career is built on a foundation of learning. People who learn management or people skills are considered proactive and have a better chance of advancing their careers. “When you gain new knowledge and enhance your skills, you’re provided with many more opportunities and see that more roads are open to you,” argues April Davis of Pick The Brain.
Learning has amazing benefits for your brain. “In addition to making existing synapses more robust, learning causes the brain to grow larger, says Scientific American. Just like other muscles, your brain strengthens itself over time as you learn new things.
Learning new things also makes you happier. Research has found dopamine is closely linked to the learning process. Learning new skills is one of the best ways to upgrade your life and career.
There are two types of learning: shallow and deep. They are both useful for different purposes. Depending on your goal, it makes sense to focus on either shallow or deep learning when you choose to spend your precious time on any topic.
Shallow learning helps us gain access to new ideas, principles, solutions, and hacks in the shortest time possible.
Deep learning (not the other subset of machine learning) involves digging deeper and spending more time to explore a topic in greater detail — the desire to deeply understand the basic principles of the topic is stronger.
Whether you choose shallow or deep learning, it important to know the end goal. What do you want out of it? What’s the point? What should you be able to do, achieve or know after learning? When you have an intrinsic interest (curiosity, need to know more about the subject), you are likely to dig deeper.
“If you don’t need to learn something, it is going to be tricky to push through frustration points. By making self-education a built-in part of your goals, you’re driven to learn out of more than random curiosity,” says Scott Young.
The more precise your aim, the faster you can learn. Do you just want to draw or code or want to make a career out of it?
A simple approach to learning something easily and quickly is this:
- Choose your skill, or what you want to learn based on your immediate goal
- Learn the basic concept first — every skill is based on a few core understandings or abilities.
- Practice and use that skill immediately in the real world and build upon it.
Once you make the decision to learn any skill, develop a routine for learning. Don’t give yourself elaborate goals for your learning process — take it easy and slow. Enjoy the process. Some skills may not come in handy immediately, learn them anyway, especially if they bring out the best in you.
When you decide to learn something new, you’re not competing against other people — you’re competing against your own previous lack of ability, and any improvement is a win — a victory that will boost your self-esteem and challenge you to demand more from yourself.