Karl Popper said many wise things, but I think the following remark is among the wisest: “The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.”
Focus your energy on one skill at a time. One of the easiest mistakes to make when acquiring new skills is attempting to acquire too many skills at the same time.
It’s a matter of simple math: acquiring new skills requires a critical mass of concentrated time and focused attention. If you only have an hour or two each day to devote to practice and learning, and you spread that time and energy across twenty different skills, no individual skill is going to receive enough time and energy to generate noticeable improvement.
Pick one, and only one, new skill you wish to acquire. Put all of your spare focus and energy into acquiring that skill, and place other skills on temporary hold. David Allen, author of Getting Things Done (2002), recommends establishing what he calls a “someday/maybe” list: a list of things you may want to explore sometime in the future, but that aren’t important enough to focus on right now.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Focusing on one prime skill at a time is absolutely necessary for rapid skill acquisition. You’re not giving up on the other skills permanently, you’re just saving them for later.
Define your target performance level. A target performance level is a simple sentence that defines what “good enough” looks like. How well would you like to be able to perform the skill you’re acquiring?
Deconstruct the skill into subskills. Most of the things we think of as skills are actually bundles of smaller subskills. Once you’ve identified a skill to focus on, the next step is to deconstruct it—to break it down into the smallest possible parts.
Deconstructing a skill also makes it easier to avoid feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to practice all parts of a skill at the same time. Instead, it’s more effective to focus on the subskills that promise the most dramatic overall returns.
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
Click to set custom HTML
Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”