How to Learn Anything

Learning is awesome! Learning something new has so many benefits I can't even list them all. First and foremost you grow personally. Learning teaches you to deal with setbacks and successes, fosters your interest in various topics and trains your willpower and endurance. From a social perspective learning (and mastering) a skill enables you to be of value to others, makes you an interesting person to talk to (and learn from!), and helps you keep connected to like-minded people. This article will show you how to learn anything you want.

How to Learn Anything

In the past, I have learned so many different skills, but learning anything basically boils down to four easy steps:

  1. Learn
  2. Do
  3. Think
  4. Repeat

Sounds too simple to be true, right? However, correctly and effectively executing the steps requires patience and practice. The following sections will give you a headstart learning how to learn anything.

Learn

To begin with you need to pick up information that is new to you. There are so many sources to learn from and most of them are accessible to everyone with a working internet connection. To give you some ideas where to learn from, consider looking for the following sources for the topic you would like to learn:

  • Books: An expert in the field has most probably written a book on the topic. A book usually contains concise knowledge and should give you a broad overview of the topic in general.
  • Videos: YouTube is full of instructional videos. Personally, I learn a lot of woodworking skills from YouTube videos.
  • Podcasts / Audio Books: Find a podcast or audio book, download it to your phone and seize those 60 minutes you spend on public transport / in your car every day.
  • Blogs: Follow the experts in the field and continually read their latest blog posts. Also, go ahead and read the archives.

While the above sources are suited to learn in solitude, there are also so many ways to learn socially:

  • Seminars / Courses: Attend a seminar or a course to gather heaps of condensed knowledge in a short amount of time and to meet like-minded people.
  • Masterminds: Find a bunch of like-minded people you enjoy spending time with and meet regularly to exchange and learn.
  • Conferences / Meetups: Social gatherings like meetups or conferences are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. There are usually so many of them that you will find a lot of new perspectives on the topic of interest.

There is no right or most efficient source to learn anything in particular. Choose what you feel comfortable with and make sure to regularly schedule time to learn! You may learn once a day or once a month - that totally depends on how fast you want to learn.

Do

Learning alone is not enough. Doing is what really makes you understand what you have learned. Gathering experience is such a crucial step when learning, that you must spend more time doing than learning. And most important: you need to apply what you have learned!

To successfully do it is important to embrace failure. Failure will and should happen. I believe that the only way to learn is by failing and others do, too. However, special care must be taken to fail properly as otherwise you learn nothing. There is a great article on strategies for learning from failure, which is definitely worth a read.

Think

Improvement will only happen if you use your brain to judge your doing based on what you learned. The reflective process is the most important part of the learning experience, as it enables you to improve and enhance your knowledge and understanding of the topic. To analyze what you have just done, ask yourself some of the following questions:

Retrospective:

  • Assess expectations: Were things working out as expected? Where did you not meet your expectations? Why?
  • Assess mistakes: Where and when did problems occur? What would you avoid next time?
  • Assess successes: What was good? What has proven to be useful? What would you do again?
  • Assess improvement: What could have been better? How and why?

Always ask questions, especially the ones that make you feel uncomfortable. And if you ask the "Why?" question, make sure to ask it five times.

Besides the retrospective, it is also inevitable to consider what I call the forwardspective. The forwardspective determines where future efforts will need to go based on the experience you just made:

Forwardspective:

  • What do I want to learn in the future?
  • What was fun and what wasn't?
  • Where do I need to improve upon next?

Repeat

To achieve long-term results, you will obviously have to repeat the learning process over and over again. While that may seem daunting always remember that in the forwardspective you can adjust your learning goals to your liking. The most important thing is to get out there and start! And for the sake of that, here is an inspiring TED talk to watch:

Conclusion

Learn. Do. Think. Repeat. Thats all you need to know. And now get started!

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