I’m a huge advocate of self-teaching. I’m one of those people who simply learn things faster by myself, using techniques that work the best for me. I think self-teaching has been on the rise with a lot of people lately, (especially with all the FREE information & resources available online). It’s a lot cheaper to learn something new through self teaching rather than pay hefty fees for classes or workshops.
All the tips I’m going to be discussing can apply to learning just about anything that’s new to you. These tips are meant for you to discover the best techniques for you, personally, that will allow you to become self-taught in whatever you’re pursuing.
When I’m talking about “something new”, it can refer to just about anything. Things like a new language, an instrument, marketing, art-related skills, writing skills, culinary skills, self-defense skills and anything else you’d like to teach yourself are all possible if you use these tips and stay motivated 🙂
Good Research is KEY
Firstly, you need to amp up your research skills. There are loads of free resources for just about any topic available online. Increase the mediums you use for learning/researching. (Note: Learning certain new things will require you to purchase items, but be sure and check out all the free resources you can get your hands on first). Here are some excellent mediums for doing research on your chosen area of study:
- Google (obvious, but a great starting point) *Just make sure you’re using good websites to do your research
- YouTube (Filled with tutorials and information)
Gather up all the research materials you can find on the topic of your choosing and begin to organize. Great research skills are key to teaching yourself new things.
Nerd Tip: To get better at research – research something you already know very well. Gather all the materials & resources you would need to learn it all over again. If you could successfully re-teach yourself something you already know given the research materials you’ve gathered – You’re ready to research something new.
Practice as much as you can
Implementing the skill or bits of knowledge you wish to acquire is paramount to really absorbing it.
Regardless of what you want to learn, practice does indeed, make perfect, (or, at least, close to perfect).
For example, if you’re teaching yourself to code – practice it as much as you can. If it’s a certain dance style you’re teaching yourself, practice in private, (nobody can see, so it’s okay to go all-out).
With any new skill, practicing is going to get you closer to achieving the end goal, (whatever that may be).
*Nerd Tip: If you want to learn something quickly – write it down 3 times and say it aloud 3 times. You’ll be 10x more likely to remember something this way.
Get Involved in Communities
Joining a community of people who are interested in, (or knowledgeable about), what you’re trying to learn – you’ll learn a lot faster. There are a lot of online communities, (dedicated to just about everything). Join some Facebook Groups, search Twitter hashtags, (even hit up Reddit if you want to remain anonymous), and start communicating within these communities.
Specialized communities will have quick tips on how to become more proficient at what you’re specifically trying to learn.
*Nerd Tip: If it’s a new language you’re learning, find a community that only speaks that language. Chatting with people who speak the language you desire to learn will speed up the process.
Write, Highlight, Read & Write Some More
Writing down what you’re learning will not only help you recall more about what you’re self teaching, it will also provide you with notes to look at when you “hit a wall”, so to speak.
Highlight the more important aspects of what you’re learning & even create Post-Its & note cards for the top pieces of information you want to learn. (This is helpful for the basics).
When I’m teaching myself something new, I keep a binder of information on the subject. I add to it whenever I find relevant bits of info I’ll want for later.
Be Patient, some skills and bits of new knowledge are harder than others to master.
With some things, it can take years to master a new skill or learn new information. Patience is key. For instance, I’ve been learning Latin for almost 2 years and still don’t feel completely confident.
Self teaching can take time, and the more difficult skills will take more time, especially when you’re doing it solo. Be patient & stick with it. It’ll all come in time.
Certain skills you’ll teach yourself may come very quickly, depending on you, personally. As a creative, it wasn’t very difficult to learn the basics of graphic design with no experience. However, learning to build a shed would take me a lot longer because I’m not the best at math.
Depending on your skill set, be prepared for certain things to not come as easy. (BUT, that doesn’t mean, in time, that you can’t master it through self teaching).
Keep Track of Everything
When you hit a new milestone – write it down! Keep track of every practical application you’ve used that has been successful, (in regards to what you’re teaching yourself). It’s even important to track your failures. Failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you’re learning something new. It can be both a reminder & a motivator.
Schedule “study times” and stick to them. Track your best days, (when you’ve picked up the most information and so on).
Decide Which (if any) Monetary Investments are Worth it
Any investment that enhances your knowledge or improves a skill set is totally worth it. However, some books, classes and workshops do make grandiose statements about how much you’ll take away from them. Some lie. Do your research. When it comes to books about learning a new skill – ALWAYS read the reviews! Before signing up for something pricey, make sure it’s going to be worth the cash.
It is true that, for learning most things, you’re probably going to have invest in something or other.
Just remember that you can always earn more money. Time is your most valuable investment, so use it wisely.
Try teaching others about what you know and even better, what you’re gaining knowledge about. This is a form of practice, (applying the skill or knowledge you’re learning), by teaching others even just the basics.
Knowledge is also one of the best gifts you can pass on to other people. Teaching others will help you improve your self teaching.
Make New Connections
Any time you’re learning something new, it’s important to make new connections. This doesn’t apply solely to people, either. You can come across information that can lead you to new hobbies & passions as well. Connecting to either a new interest or a person who shares similar interests will improve your ability to self teach.
Meeting new people who are pursuing the same thing as you will advance you’re knowledge of said pursuit.
Also, when learning something new, consult with an expert in whatever it is you’re trying to learn. (Sometimes, this doesn’t have to be a DIRECT connection. You can simply research their techniques or read something/watch something where they discuss how they got to where they are).
You can find these people in those online communities I mentioned earlier, or sometimes, by just browsing sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
There are many different ways to learn. Experiment with various techniques. There are also various ways the same thing can be done. Try out flashcards. Watch some informative videos. Read a book you normally wouldn’t.
Experiment with the ways you are absorbing information. Track the various ways you’re learning and make notes of which mediums/techniques are the most helpful to you actually retaining the information.
Beware of Frauds
Okay, anyone online can say whatever the hell they want. You want to make sure you’re getting your information from legit sources. Beware of frauds. Trust your gut. If a piece of information doesn’t seem right, fact-check the hell out of it.
The same goes for people. If someone is constantly pressuring you to buy something or they just don’t “feel right”, make sure they are who they say they are. “Experts” in certain areas can be Catfish too.
Learning is FOREVER
Learning is a lifelong process. We will always be learning. Knowledge is a beautiful thing and it’s forever. Never stop learning – it’ll keep things interesting.
Be persistent in learning. Try new techniques. Invest in YOURSELF and any knowledge or skill you wish to acquire.
The acquisition of knowledge is a life long pursuit and you can always get better at anything you’re doing 🙂
I have learned the majority of my more valuable skills through self-teaching. It’s important to note that we all don’t learn the same way, or at the same pace. Some major keys to self-teaching are motivation, dedication and persistence. Some skills will come easily while others may take quite a long time to master.
You truly can do almost anything if you stay dedicated. Mistakes are inevitable so don’t beat yourself up too hard when they occur. If you keep trying, you’re on you’re way to leveling up 🙂
Best Wishes to all your pursuits 🙂
Let me know if there are any other key tips you have for learning something new in the comments!