Climb a mountain? Learn a language? Lose Weight? Buy a new car? Experience more gratitude? Peace of mind? Forgiveness? Get a better job? Improve your love life?
What happens when you treat these as learnable skills? Not all or nothing propositions that may or may not be readily accessible. Not a switch to be thrown from off to on.
How to Learn Anything
Carve up, and plot out what you want, and treat it as a learning task. If you were a student of your goal, how would you treat the learning process? What would aid you in accomplishing/learning it? The following are some keys to “learning” anything, or treating anything as a learnable skill:
Chunk down and process the steps and components.
See it as part of a bigger picture.
Study, gather information, educate yourself.
Get help or guidance from people who know more than you or who’ve done it before.
Do not fear being a beginner. Embrace it. Start small. Start slow. There is humility and nobility in beginning. Be open.
Develop and practice the fundamentals. Don’t ignore the boring things that play important support roles.
Get your reps in. Reps, reps, reps. Repetition is the mother of understanding, competence, and mastery.
Persist. Learning requires consistent effort over time. Work while you wait. Patience is a core muscle.
Make it fun. Play is a powerful learning tool, and a powerful tool for achieving goals. Make it a game. Celebrate accomplishments.
Create time frames, deadlines, way markers, benchmarks, “tests”, and “final exams.”
Along with these principles, you might want to think of a class or classes that you did well in or enjoyed. Or maybe a job where you successfully learned a lot. What elements of your character did you bring to bear? What tools, resources, and techniques did you use? What was the structure or the time-bound process you went through? How can you recreate helpful attitudes or environments?
You already know a lot about learning. Now to consciously apply it and expand your repertoire of learning skills.
The Learn Anything Technique in Life
In the bigger picture, a Learn Anything approach has massive implications.
Here’s the big view: It involves taking responsibility for your skills and knowledge (detach the idea of learning from school, which is only one time and place of many for learning) to make learning a core and consistent part of life, and taking advantage of modern resources for doing, being, having, and learning anything.
Learning never stops. Not at the end of high school, or college. Not at 5 pm at the end of the day in your work life. Learning is lifelong. It takes place throughout all areas of life. Your mind and body are basically ready, willing, and able to learn at all times.
You need a well-meshed filter. The Learn Anything technique requires awareness of the processes involved in learning new skills and abilities. It requires consciously taking the reigns of the way you receive all the stimuli and data of the world.
It’s amazingly empowering to think of everything as a learnable skill – everything is within reach using the Learn Anything principles. Speaking a language, obviously, is a learnable skill, but also running a marathon, improving relationships, increasing happiness and fulfillment, reaching career achievements, or whatever goal.
Physical energy and strength are skills. Good relationships are a set of skills. Resource creation is a big fat skill. Compassion is a skill.
Break it down. Nerdify. Engage.
Example: Anyone Can Run a Marathon
Running a marathon is a learnable skill. It seems super intimidating at first, but anyone can do it. You have to invest the time required to learn intellectually and let your body learn (muscularly) how to travel all that distance (26.2 miles/42 kilometers) within the time allotted (about 6 or 7 hours.) Think of it as semester course, at the end of which your final exam is a marathon.
You find a training regimen that you can follow. You may find a coach or teacher or mentor. You find “classmates” – other people who are also learning this skill (for example, a local running group or an online runners’ forum.) You ask lots of questions. You research proper nutrition and hydration. You watch demonstrations on running form. You try new sneakers. You learn about auxiliary skills like stretching and strength training. You first learn how to run 3 miles. Then you learn how to run 6. A large part of it is just putting the miles in your legs. That’s how your muscles learn.
“You gotta do your reps,” an acting teacher of mine once said, referring to becoming a good actor, but also referring to becoming good at anything.
Little by little you learn how to run 10, 11, 12 and then 13.1 miles (a half marathon.) Over time, through the experience, you learn what’s needed psychologically. And you learn to increase your distance every so often, until finally you are prepared to run a marathon.
The more you “study” beforehand the better you’ll do on the “final” exam. Fortunately, for many of us who decide to run marathons, we aren’t limited to a 3 month semester. We can take 4, 5, 6 months or even a year to prepare depending on how much “skill” you bring to the table – in both intellectual knowledge and physical experience.
The Learn Anything Technique as a Self Coaching Technique
Learn Anything is an important Self Coaching technique. It’s a way of planning your approach to any task. It’s a way of taking action toward your dreams. It’s a way of influencing yourself and your world.
So, what do you want to learn? What do you want to do, be, have or achieve? Who do you want to become?
Want to find love?
Change your body?
Start a business or organization?
Find out what your dream is?
Pursue your dream?
These are all skills that can be learned. You don’t need to know the territory before you begin the journey.
Remember that, at one point, even the alphabet seemed impossible to learn.
It takes consistent effort over time to get good at anything. The techniques of a focused, attentive, persistent student can be brought to any task or project-physical, mental, social, or financial.
Nerd up. Reach out. Immerse. Expand.
What Do You Want to Learn?
People often say they want to learn a new language or learn to play a musical instrument. But they also accuse themselves of lacking will power, motivation, or self-discipline. This is not the problem. What they actually lack is the conscious awareness of an effective student’s techniques – the techniques that will lead you to effective mindsets and behaviors.
Want to learn to be thin? You can learn the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of a thin person.
Want to learn to be happier? You can learn the mindset and emotional patterns of a happier person.
Want to be more creative or productive? You might not become the next Picasso, but you can develop the skills and strategies you’ll need to create and produce at a higher level.
Plan it out, and dive in. Follow the Learn Anything principles and learn, baby, learn.