Where To Start When Learning Skills

a woman painting on a board

Learning a high income skill is the next best thing after graduating from university, some people will even argue that it’s more profitable. These days, it’s also cool to flex other areas of competence alongside your formal education.

“Hey, what are you into?” “So, I’m a graphics designer and 3D animator currently in my final year of studying electrical engineering, and when I have the time I like to brush up on my Japanese” Sounds cool, right?

Whether you're learning a skill with the primary aim to improve your income or you're just a knowledge-loving person who craves mastery of different things because you think it's cool, you have to begin somewhere. In this article, we’ll discuss where to start from practically if you’re interested in learning a new skill.

Learning Skills; Where to Start

To get started on the journey from little or no knowledge to a place of average mastery, here are some steps you can consider taking:

Step 1: Choose a skill of interest

Of course the first step is choosing a skill you like. Consider the things you're drawn to and what interests you. You may enjoy listening to musicals, admiring beautiful designs or maybe possess a fascination for technology. The fact that you like something doesn't automatically mean you'll want to take it up as a skill. But, from all the things you're interested in, there may be something you want to learn more about.

Sometimes, we may already have tendencies. For instance, you may already be someone who sketches art, writes often in a journal, enjoys learning a little about different languages, or tries to analyse musical chords. If you're already a bit invested in a particular skill, it may be easier for you to commit yourself to growing and gaining a higher level of mastery. I enjoy writing so it wasn't so complex for me to transition into freelance writing and recently into blogging. On the other hand, I had to take introductory courses on web development because I had the goal of building my blog from scratch.

The summary of this step is to choose a skill you find interesting and appealing. You may not be aiming for a professional level and that's okay. I don't consider myself a web developer, but I still feel proud of being able to build this blog.

Step 2: Get a glimpse of the end result

If you're considering taking up a skill professionally, then it's worth considering how the experts in the field go about their work. What kind of tasks do they complete? How's their working environment? Do they sit on a desk in a room and work for hours or do they have to perform routinely on a stage? Trying to see how your life may be as a professional pianist or software developer may serve as some inspiration or be the signal that deters you from going down that path.

If you're lucky, you may know someone who's already into what you like, you can just ask them questions about their experience so far. Even if you're interested in something like learning a new language or improving your cooking skills for personal reasons. You can also find bi or multilingual people and see how they sound speaking different languages. The same goes for cooking enthusiasts or creators. As usual, the internet is always a good place to start. If you get inspiration, then that might just be the extra boost you need to start learning.

Step 3: Begin with the basics

Every word in the English dictionary stems from 26 alphabets. It makes sense that kids learn the alphabets first and proceed to two letter words and so on. Once you've decided on the skill you want to learn or improve on, begin with the basics. What's the first thing you need to learn as a beginner in video editing, writing or playing a musical instrument?

The answers you get may vary, but try to start from the simplest and basic stuff. These days, most people self learn or they start by themselves even if they find a tutor later on. Start from something simple to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Step 4: Select some learning resources

If you're determined to, you'll find anywhere from a dozen to thousands of articles, videos, courses both paid and free that promise to offer you value. But, you can only do so much at once right? Select a few learning resources to start with and keep scaling up as you go. It may feel amazing to explore different options, but until you begin to actively implement what you learn, you probably won't make much progress.

Step 5: Set a reasonable learning time

Once you’re convinced you want to try learning a skill, set some time aside for that purpose. You may think it’s best to be spontaneous since you can end up messing the timeline anyway, but just try it out. Depending on your schedule, you may decide to dedicate a couple of minutes or hours a few days a week to learning. Setting reminders on your calendar and using strategies like the pomodoro technique can be a way to ensure you remain on track during your sessions.

What happens if you mess up the timeline or schedule? I understand the disappointment that comes with not sticking to plans you made, but I think it’s best to just reschedule for another day or try not to miss the next one. Life happens, sometimes it rains heavily and you are stuck in traffic for hours. Other times, you may spend a bit too much time on Youtube shorts or TikTok. Whatever happens, acknowledge the reason for your inconsistency and try to do better.

Step 6: Find a mentor

When I say find a mentor, I don’t mean find someone to watch your every step as you journey into enlightenment. Unless you’re willing to pay for special consultations and mentorship sessions, you shouldn’t expect someone to pause their life and be so invested in your progress. However, it’s possible to gain valuable insight or advice by asking specific questions. If you know someone with a reasonable experience in your skill of interest, you can ask them relevant questions like what steps did you take to gain this level of mastery or can you please review my work?’

You can also take advice from people for free on the internet. People are actually willing to share information about their progress and the process they took to achieve the results we see on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Did you call bluff? Well, I understand the scepticism. However, I think there’s always something to learn from someone with more experience than you if you just take the time to observe them. If you also get the chance to ask questions directly, go for it!

Step 7: Make discipline and consistency your friend

Discipline and consistency really separates the serious from the noise makers. We've all been in a place where there's something we really want to learn or do, but we make excuses and find reasons to keep putting it off. If you're determined to learn a new skill, you need to consistently put in the work, that's really the only way.

All the amazing talents you see out there from the cool multilingual dude and amazing cook to the pencil artist who creates hyper realistic painting and even the really successful YouTuber you like so much. It's all work, consistent effort, improvement and growth. Things like being really good at something rarely happen by chance, maybe never.

Parting words

There you have it, some tips that answer the question ‘where do I start when learning a skill?’ Learning something new is always exciting and if you're willing to put in the work, it will be rewarding as well. Happy learning!