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Let me compliment you on wanting to learn something new.
In a world of indifference, so few people take action, let alone search for how to take action.
Then there’s the question of what to learn. This can itself be quite challenging because there are so many options out there.
Well, on this page we’ll simplify everything by talking about how to learn a variety of things. Not all skills are learned the same way, after all.
And to start eliminating the confusion about how to learn, let’s boil things down to a simple formula:
Once you pick what you want to learn, you study to find out the steps involved. Then you implement those steps, followed by practice to improve your execution.
With this process in mind, let’s get started.
Why You Should Learn Something New
Learning things literally promotes cellular growth in your brain. It also strengthens the neural connections you already have.
If you go the language learning route, some studies in bilingualism report up to 32 years in brain fortification. This benefit means that your brain gets protected from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Other reasons you’re right to say, “I want to learn something” include:
- Getting a raise or promotion (like Jesse Villalobos)
- Winning a competition (like James Gerwing)
- Speaking a language in another country
- Studying effectively so you can pass an exam
- Spending time offline to fend off digital amnesia
- Improve your reasoning abilities
To put it another way:
If you want to continue learning for the rest of your life, always learning something new is the best way to keep your mind and memory short.
And the more you know, the more you can know.
How to Learn Something New: A Proven 6-Step Process
Now, we’ve seen that to learn we need to take it one S.I.P. at a time.
But what are the exact steps?
There will always be nuances for different things you want to learn. But generally, here’s what you need:
Step One: A Vision
Before planning anything or buying books, it’s useful to sit down and imagine the desired outcome.
For example, if you want to learn how to improve your memory, you can craft a memory improvement vision statement.
The reason it’s important to do this is that it helps you know your “why.” That way, when certain parts of the journey get tough, you’re able to keep pushing through.
And never give up when you’re challenged. No doubt, obstacles can create resistance. But it’s when we push through challenges that growth occurs. This cannot happen if you quit.
Crafting a vision statement also helps you test through your conviction. There’s often a difference between what we want and what we’re actually willing to do.
When spending some time on your vision, you can dodge a lot of speeding bullets. You can also think through various alternatives.
Pro tip: If you don’t like linear prose, one great way to craft your vision statement is through mind mapping.
Step Two: Plan Wisely
After testing your conviction by crafting a vision statement, it’s time to plan.
In this step, you’ll set aside time to research what you want to learn.
During this phase, you’ll identify books, courses and key experts who can help you achieve your vision or desired learning outcome.
Then, you’ll chart out when you’re going to go through those materials or meet with the expert trainers who can help you.
Pro tip: If you struggle to plan and schedule your time, getting help from a coach can be a game changer. There’s no shame in lacking discipline and knowledge in this area.
So if you have a vision but struggle to plan and implement, find someone who can help you make it happen. Life Coach Spotter has a great guide that can help you find the perfect person.
Step Three: Define The Project
I’ve already talked about spending some time identifying your books and courses.
This should help you define the scope of the project.
To do this, state how much time you’re going to spend and how much material you want to get through.
For example, when I started my Art of Memory learning project, I devoted six months to it. I committed to reading one book on the topic per week and at least two articles.
By giving your learning commitments definition in terms of both scope and duration, it’s so much easier to achieve specific goals.
You can even create certain milestones. For example, if you’re learning about a topic that has multiple authors writing about it, pick one author. Read just their major works as a milestone before moving on to the next author.
Step Four: Plan To Fail
Sounds weird right?
Not at all.
As I mentioned, there will be challenges when learning anything. And that’s why we need to have a plan for what to do when those challenges arise.
The choices you make can be quite simple. For example, when I reach a point of frustration, I almost always take a walk. “Go for a walk,” is my auto-pilot mantra and it helps refresh the mind.
I also like to have “attitude adjusters.” Many of my journals come with motivational quotes printed on each page. I follow lots of positive quote Twitter and Instagram accounts and motivational speakers. Constantly fueling positivity helps so much.
Step Five: Take Effective Notes And Keep A Learning Journal
There are so many approaches to note taking. It can be frustrating trying to find the best option.
At the end of the day, I suggest you experiment with a few different styles. Combine what you find works best with the Memory Palace technique for best results.
Keeping a journal is important too. Here’s why:
Learning is a lot like art.
And artists always sketch in journals.
They do this not just to practice. They do it so they can look back and see just how far they’ve come.
Instead of always filling your journal with notes about what you’re learning, try this instead:
Fill your journal with the questions you have along the way. Then work at answering them.
When you look back, you’ll find that you’ve grown incredible, and the Q&A process with yourself will have paid many dividends.
By the way, this process of asking yourself questions and working to answer them is called The Feynman Technique. It’s just one of 28 ways I’ve compiled in How to Study Effectively.
Step Six: The Big Five Of Learning
Finally, it’s important to integrate everything. For that, we pull all the big guns together:
Basically, this process means that you deeply integrate what you’re learning through ample discussion and follow-up in multiple ways.
For example, to integrate what you’re learning, a discussion group helps you reflect on your own thoughts while appreciating the varying viewpoints of others.
Writing, as we’ve seen through journaling, helps you identify and answer any questions you have.
And memorizing makes sure that everything you learn remains for the long term.
What New Things Should You Learn?
If you’re not sure what to learn, here’s a master list of suggestions. It’s possible to pick up skills in each of these in a single lifetime.
But as always, it helps to focus on just one skill at a time. Keep the lesson above about scope and definition in mind when choosing what you want to learn.
“All wealth comes from writing.”
That’s a quote I heard a long time ago, and I believe it’s true.
Whether it’s writing books and articles or just an effective networking email, it helps if you can do it quickly.
If you don’t know how to type, I’d suggest starting with this foundational skill.
I’m a big believer that everyone should speak at least one other language. It’s not only good for your brain, but hugely beneficial for your wallet.
As reported in the BBC, knowing at least one other language can add more than six figures to your wealth every four years.
The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to learn any language, even without leaving your home.
Understanding exactly how money makes the world go round is hugely beneficial.
It not only helps you earn and save more. It helps you avoid mistakes and reduces your stress about market changes.
Marginal Revolution is a leading blog that aggregates links from around the net relating to economics. You can learn a ton just from following its links and book recommendations.
If you’ve ever wanted to start a business, you’ll need to know at least something about math.
Knowing your numbers is also useful for:
And that’s just to name a few areas.
One fun and easy way to make math fun and exciting is to learn Chisanbop.
What can be more pleasing than being able to pick up an instrument and accompany yourself as you sing a song?
There’s another benefit:
When you know how to memorize a song, singing produces healing chemicals in your body. Playing an instrument exercises your brain, which means that bringing them together is even more beneficial.
I used to hold the limiting belief that I could not draw.
But I wanted to and within a year was stunned by the progress I’d made.
Riven Phoenix has a great course on drawing the human figure I highly recommend. It’s helped a lot with my visualization skills tool.
Learning how and why your mind operates helps you enjoy life a lot more.
There are many mental models to discover, not to mention sorting out your cognitive biases.
Knowing about psychology also boosts your ability to think in a reflective way. Mulling over topics is fine, but doing so with knowledge of how your mind functions boosts the entire process.
Survival Skills And Bushcraft
Sure, few of us will wind up lost in a forest or stranded in the desert.
But you never know, do you?
If you’re casting about for something to learn, these skills will keep you prepared for even the most unlikeliest of events.
Podcasting And Video Course Creation
Everyone has to run errands and most of those people are listening to either music or podcasts while doing them.
Why aren’t you the one in their ears?
You haven’t learned podcasting yet.
I’ve been running a podcast since 2014 and have hardly missed a week. If you want to learn from me about how to do it, check out my course, Branding You. It’s been a bestseller on Udemy since it was released in 2015.
SEO And Blogging
Learning how to rank posts on page one of Google is an art, craft and science.
You can turn it into a career or just do it for fun.
But the name of the game either way is to have an audience.
And that’s where learning to write for both humans and the search engines come in. It’s a great learning project and one I highly recommend.
It makes you a better writer overall. When you can learn to reach people through both search engines and peaking their interest once they’ve found you, those skills apply to:
- Podcast episodes
- YouTube video scripts
- Online course content
Give this skill a try!
When I wrote this TEDx Talk, I had no idea it would reach over one million people.
But it did, and having taken a course on public speaking helped.
I’m not the greatest speaker, but I’m glad I spent the time learning how to present.
If you’re worried you’ll forget your presentation, please don’t be. Here’s how to memorize a speech (and deliver it without sounding like a robot).
The vast majority of people can’t read the law that governs them. That means they can’t participate in shaping the rules they follow.
But even just a little knowledge of the law can go a long way. It helps you communicate with your representatives better, for one thing. And you can keep them more accountable in the first place, something obviously not enough people do.
It sounds cliche, but we all need to be the change we want to see in the world. Remember: Gandhi was a lawyer first. This background was a key part of his civil rights activism.
If you do start learning the law, you’re going to get logic as part of the package.
But you can also learn it as a topic and skill on its own.
A few reasons:
- Reasoning through whether arguments are objective or subjective is a valuable skill
- You can persuade others more effectively
- Learning logic is a major intellectual achievement
- You’ll spot fallacies fast and avoid devastating problems
- You’ll become clear and precise in many areas of your life
- The media becomes easier to interpret, freeing you from irrational beliefs
And that’s just for starters. I highly recommend learning all that you can about logic. Here are some critical thinking exercises to help you get started.
Of course, all of the above suggestions will be of limited use if you don’t have anyone to share your skills with.
That’s why learning to become a well-connected person is an important skill to learn.
Of course, “networking” isn’t necessarily the right word for it. Often people associate it with business-types trying to find new clients.
As Jennie Gorman puts it, “netweaving” is the alternative. In this approach, you’re there to give to others, not to figure out how you can benefit.
And when you’ve learned something new, being in a position to give is exactly where you’ll be.
Best Websites to Visit to Learn Something New
Now that you have some ideas in mind, here are a few suggested websites for learning new skills.
Obviously, there are thousands of choices out there. To help narrow it all down, don’t forget to craft your vision, define your plan and take some notes on which resources you want to investigate further.
Learning How To Learn Resources
Language Learning Resources
Internet Writing, Podcasting And Course Creation Resources
- Music theory
- Fret Fury (guitar)
Course Aggregators (Various Resources)
This Free Masterclass Can Help You Learn New Things Fast
At the end of the day, every learning goal places huge demands on your memory.
But that doesn’t mean you have to struggle.
In fact, there’s a special way to approach learning using an ancient tool. We’ve already mentioned it above.
If you’d like a free course that takes you through the fundamentals, learning to master your memory first is a great idea.
To get started, just let me know where to send you Memory Palace Mastery. It’s four free videos with three worksheets in the form of a Memory Improvement Kit:
So now, what do you say?
Are you ready to go out there and learn something new?
I hope you feel more empowered and focused now than just casting about to learn stuff.
I hope you have the tools to bring laser focus to the learning topics you choose so that you can truly soar.