Skill Development: Can You Learn Something New in a Month?

Can you really learn something new in only a month?

If you want to stay ahead  in life it’s important to develop additional skills and habits.

But in this faced paced world is there time to learn new things?

Not easily.

This is why it is important to take a proactive approach to skill acquisition.  When you understand the psychology behind picking up new talents, you can make rapid improvements to your life.

With that said, is it possible to “skill hack” and learn something new within a month?

In this article we’ll review some of the popular theories and thoughts on how to quickly master different skills.

10,000 Hours to Master a Skill?

Malcom Gladwell famously stated that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be a master at any skill in his book Outliers.

But on the other hand, there are people like Josh Kaufman and Tim Ferriss who publish books that show how to quickly learn skills quickly.

Who is correct?

Does it take 10,000 hours to master a skill, or 20 hours?

The answer is both are true. With all due respect to Ferriss and Kaufman, you are not going to pick up a cello and be Yo Yo Ma in 20 hours, or pick up a golf club and be Tiger Woods in a month.

You can’t become an expert, but you can become competent.

In 30 days of deliberate practice (1 hour each day) you could learn the basics of cello and play a few songs people recognize. You could learn golf to the point where you don’t embarrass yourself on the green. You will not be an expert, but you will be 80% there.

That final 20% of the skill is the toughest hurdle to climb,  This where time and practice become important.

What Gladwell was talking about is the level truly mastering a skill. If you want to be 100% fluent in another language, with no trace of an accent, expect 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.  However if you want to learn a language and be understood, then 30 hours of deliberate practice will do it for you.

How can you quickly learn something new?

It’s something that’s possible if you dedicate a month to the process.

30 Days to Learn Something New

30 Hours is still a VERY short time to become competent in any skill. Practice makes perfect, and that is not a lot of time to practice.

The only way you can become competent in a skill in such a short time is to make sure that your practice is deliberate, effective, efficient and precise.

You can’t just get 30 hours of willy-nilly practice and consider yourself competent.  You need to have a plan, goals, milestones and uninterrupted practice. This last one is essential, because one hour a day isn’t a lot of time.  Each hour of practice requires 100% to your attention with absolutely no interruptions.

Check out my book: Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills

11 Tips for Learning a New Skill

To illustrate this point, let’s say  you’d like to learn a new language.
Here are 11 strategies that can help you have simple conversations in a new tongue within 30 days:

#1. Focus on the important things. What do you want to learn? How do you get there? A language may have 15,000 words, but learning the right 1,500 words can help you understand 90% of a conversation instead of 10%. This is all about setting up a plan to learn what is important first.

#2. Make a plan. If you want to have success in new skills you must have a plan. It must be written out. Period. End of story.

#3. Break it into chunks.  You won’t get it trying to learn it all at once. Study different areas of your skill at different times.  The training on the specific areas needs to be intense and in depth.

#4. Create drill sets. Repetition is the key. Drill yourself on the core essential until you know them backwards and forwards.

#5. Create tangible milestones. Each day of the month should have an outcome with specific milestones.  So if you’re learning a language, you should set a goal of learning 100 new words or practicing on a related software program for one hour.

#6. Get out there and do it. For languages this means getting out and talking to native speaking people. You may fear embarrassment until you are good, but nothing teaches like getting out there and doing it.  This is why people recommend total immersion for learning a language. When you HAVE to learn something, you will find it easier to do it.

#7. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. You will have one hour of deliberate practice each and every day.  However, the most important thing you can do is review and repeat the key points throughout the day.

#8. Be persistent. There will be days when you don’t want to learn. Days when you feel you can’t and won’t get it. My advice is to do it anyway.

#9.Have patience. It takes time to become competent at anything. Understand that you will not become an expert in a day. Everyone has to learn, so you will have to put in your time to do something well.

#10. Create practice work and tests.  Buy a program or study guide for the skill you’re developing.  Use this information to practice and test your new abilities.

#11. Self-correct: Keep track of your training in a journal.  If something is giving you a hard time, set aside time to work on that area.

Ultimately learning something new in 30 days is still an ambitious goal.  You have to work hard at it and be effective in your study time.

The good news is it can be done.

Simply follow these 11 steps and you can quickly pick up a new skill. You can even try a 30 Day Habit Challenge. and spend a month focusing on this talent.  With a little bit of practice and repetition, you can develop additional talents on a regular basis.

Want to learn more about learning? Check out some of these awesome books to help you learn efficiently

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