Learning can be uncomfortable, difficult and sometimes tedious, but you need to find a way to get it done regardless. If you want to guarantee to never fail, then don’t try to learn anything ever. Otherwise, take a leap of faith and read on to see my best tips on how to make learning something new a little easier.
Don’t feel you have to learn more stuff!
Sometimes people hold themselves back by waiting until they officially learn a particular skill before they start something. You already have loads of skills right now so see how far you can take what you have, to get what you want. Then you can take the time to learn another skill. Or better yet, throw yourself in the deep end! This is usually what I do, just to get a handle on what I don’t know. When you are tuned into potential problems, your brain can pick up the solutions quicker.
Think about how it will feel to be good at what you are learning
Imagine that actually, you happen to be a natural at __________* (*whatever it is you are learning). Sure you may be having some teething problems but once you get the hang of it you are going to be so brilliant at it that you will be able to do it in your sleep.
Find your own learning style
Start with the method you are most drawn to. If you don’t like learning alone, don’t force yourself to read the how-to book or sit through online tutorials. Some people love online learning, others need to be in a group or to learn one on one with a tutor. If some of the ways you’ve tried don’t work for you don’t beat yourself up. Sitting and doing online tutorials to learn a software takes huge discipline and can get frustrating as there is no one to ask questions to. But if you are online, see if there are some groups (eg a Facebook group) with like minded people you can ask questions to. Try different approaches and go with the one you enjoy the most.
Put happiness in
If you are feeling stuck and not making progress, you could try and find a more playful approach. Take what you’ve learned so far and apply it to something you’ll enjoy. I am optimistic that this can work for any subject! For example, if you are learning about digital drawing then that’s easy, draw a really silly picture, if you are learning languages, tell or write a daft story in a funny voice in your new language. The main thing is to trick yourself into loosening up and not giving it a life or death importance.
Get used to the discomfort
Accept that it won’t always feel great when you get confused and frustrated, but it’s only temporary. Just take a break and come back, then keep going. All the discomfort will soon be forgotten once you get the hang of it!
Be nice to yourself
Watch your self-talk and make sure you are being kind to yourself and not saying negative things. If you tell yourself you can’t do it you might believe yourself and not get anything done.
Don’t compare yourself to others
There is always going to be someone who is just naturally wonderful at absorbing information and picking up new skills. If you aren’t this person, don’t worry. Everyone has their own pace. It gets easier the more you get used to learning new things, your brain becomes more flexible, and more open to newness.
Schedule a time to practise
If you only make 15 minutes a day to practise, you will make great strides whatever you are learning. If you do it for 5 days a week that’s 2 hour 15 mins per week. Consistent practise will make all the difference, and if you make it a manageable amount then it won’t hurt too much and you will see great results.
Test yourself and make or do something with your new skill, this will help cement all you’ve learnt with the added bonus of having something to show for yourself. Show your friends and give yourself credit for what you’ve done so far. Then, learn some more! Good luck!
My Favourite online learning resources
What to do when you’re feeling stuck