“One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ability to learn rapidly.” — Anthony Robbins
The first step to learning any skill faster requires deconstructing the skill we want to learn. Deconstruction means taking something that is very large or complex and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Most, if not all, of the skills we want to learn are just bundles of smaller sub-skills that occur in combinations simultaneously.
By breaking these sub-skills down to their minimal components, you can figure out exactly what you need to learn, which sub-skills are important, and therefore which you should learn first.
Tim Ferriss shares his learning framework, called DiSSS:
- Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units I should be starting with?
- Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
- Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
- Stakes: How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?
We’re going to refer to DiSSS a few times throughout this sequence.
So, how do we deconstruct a skill that we want to learn faster?
1. Have a goal
Knowing your end-goal is the most critical part to learning anything. It’s what will keep you focused towards a direction, and accountable when things get hard (which they always will).Advertising
For language learning, this could be to reach conversational fluency, with the ability to have a 60-minute conversation with a native speaker.
For learning guitar, it could be to play 5 of your favorite songs for your partner in 90 days.
It’s important to have a bigger purpose to learning that you can refer to when you inevitably lose motivation, as learning for the sake of learning rarely lasts.
When Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team, he didn’t wake up every morning to shoot thousands of free throws so that he could make next year’s basketball team. His goal was to become the best player in the world.
2. Break it down to its LEGO blocks
The next step is to do some research online. Look at online forums or research the best language experts, business experts, or experts in whichever skill you want to master.
The goal here is to identify and list all the components involved when learning your skills, no matter how small. Don’t worry about being perfect, as you may not know all the components involved until you start, but list as many as you can before you start.
For example, if you want to become a powerful keynote speaker, it could be learning:Advertising
- Body language: hand gestures, eye contact, walking style and speed
- Presentation slides: design, flow of the slides, content
- Speaking: volume, speed, content
and so forth…
Laying out all the individual components will allow you to observe the individual sub-skills involved from the outside without feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, you can now see which parts you need to focus your efforts on to reach your goal.
3. Figure out why you may quit
The first few weeks, or even days, of learning a new skill is the hardest. It’s the vulnerable moments when we’re most likely to quit and lose motivation.
You should try avoiding these obstacle points completely, at least for the first five practice sessions. You can do this by breaking down all of the actions involved to acquire the skill. For language learning, it could be searching for the right teacher, having to take the bus to meet them everyday, and needing to do follow-up homework exercises after the lessons.
When we accumulate all of these actions that are required to acquire a skill, it can be pretty daunting. Initially, we should focus on just one of these actions. One easy way to get around this would be to work with a language teacher online, so you can avoid the pain points completely.
Tim Ferris did this when learning to swim. His pain points were difficulty breathing and exhaustion from kicking, so he discovered Total Immersion Swimming, which is shallow water swim training.
We all lose motivation eventually, and it’s better to know how you will deal with it ahead of time than face it straight on without any preparation.Advertising
4. Focus on the 20%
If you haven’t heard of Pareto’s Principle, you should read about it before continuing. The basis is that 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your desired outcome.
For language learning, 1200-2000 words is the range of the most common words you need to know in order to be conversationally fluent in any language in the world.
If your goal is to reach conversational fluency, it could be a simple as scheduling a weekly lesson with a language teacher who will provide you with immediate interaction and feedback.
If your goal is to play guitar fluently, it could be memorizing four chords that make up a majority of the popular songs.
If your goal is to become a better cook, you could choose 3 fancy dishes and become a master in learning those dishes.
Whichever sub-skill you decide to focus on, make sure they’re the most impactful ones, and focus all of your energy on them while removing any distractions along the way.
5. Focus on one sub-skill at a time
It may be tempting to jump in and learn multiple sub-skills at a time, especially if the end result is to master one skill. But, just as we get nothing done by multi-tasking when working, we’ll need to avoid multi-skill acquisition to maximize our progress.Advertising
As the founder of Rype, I personally hear from dozens of aspiring language students every week who are attempting to master their Spanish speaking skills and writing when they have yet to learn basic grammar rules.
It’s a common feat that all of us ambitious individuals have within us, but a weakness when it comes to mastering a skill faster.
Get good and master one sub-skill before moving on to the next. As long as you have Pareto’s Principle in mind, you’ll feel productive knowing that you’re focusing on the sub-skills that will result in 80% of your desired outcome.
That’s all it takes to become a learning master.
Remember: the first step is deconstructing your skill, and if you can manage to do this properly, you’re well on your way to becoming a learning expert.
Last Updated on February 19, 2019
How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months
The cycle of bad habits is what keeps us living small and stops us from reaching our true potential. Breaking a bad habit isn’t as hard as it seems; despite being a CEO of a company and raising two children, I still managed to break 3 bad habits I had within 2 months. Yes, that’s quitting one habit in less than 21 days.
I took steps to eliminate them one at a time. Habits such as drinking Coke every day, slouching when sitting and not having a consistent exercise routine.
So how did I break these habits? I used the Control Alternate Delete Method (Ctrl Alt Del).
What is this method and why is it so effective? Read on to find out how to break bad habits with this unique method.
How to break bad habits with the Control Alternate Delete Method
We all notice on some level what our bad habits are. A lot of the time we choose to ignore the negative ways these impact us.
For me, I was sitting most of the day in front of my computer at work in a slouching position. I drank Coke every single day in an attempt to stay awake. I put off any kind of exercise regime because I felt that it was better to just relax and have fun after a whole day of work. As a result, I was leading a really unhealthy lifestyle suffering from weight gain and back pain.
I needed to make a change.
I started to read books about building habits such as The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, and The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. After reading all these books, I’ve come up with my own method to quit bad habits — The Ctrl Alt Del Method.
I started by focusing on just one bad habit, the first one being the sheer amount of Coke I was consuming each day.
Every day I applied the Ctrl Alt Del Method and after two weeks, not only did I stop drinking Coke every day (I only drank one can in 2 weeks), but I started the better habit of drinking 8 glasses of water every day instead.
After eliminating one bad habit, I moved on to the other two with this same method and a month later I was:
- Hitting the gym twice a week.
- Improving my sitting posture, not only at the office but also at home and everywhere else, improving my back pain.
- Gaining core muscle which improved my back pain as well.
- Losing fat around my waist which went from 36″ (considered obese level) to 32″ (normal level).
If I can improve my life using this method, then so can you. Using this structure to eliminate your bad habits will increase your success and replace your bad habits with more positive ones.
Control: Master your desire
Identify your triggers
Bad habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking and snacking too much trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain. Although you might not like the end result, they give you a positive outcome in the moment. This is pure psychology.
It’s important to identify what is triggering you to continually act out your bad habit. This isn’t always an easy step because our habits have been built up over a long period of time.
If you need help in identifying your triggers, here’s a list of common bad habits and their triggers: 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away
To help you work out your triggers, do a bit of self-reflection. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What comfort are you getting from this habit?
- Why do you need comfort?
For example, I chose to drink coke because it tasted good and it made me feel good when I was stressed. I slouched only when I sat for too long working on my desk and started to feel tired. I skipped exercises because every day after work I felt I already did enough works and didn’t want to work out.
If you choose to eat fast food every night, you’re probably telling yourself you’re too busy to cook. But ask yourself why? What are your priorities?
Maybe you have a lack of self-worth that means you don’t have the self-love to want to look after your health. Perhaps it’s a sign you’re not making enough time for important routines like shopping and creating a healthy meal yourself. Maybe you’ve always had a belief that you’re a bad cook.
Write a diary
Write down your thoughts and feelings around this bad habit. Writing things down forces the brain to think harder. This helps you to find the source to your stress or limiting negative beliefs.
Alternate: Find a replacement
Find a positive alternative habit
Once you think you’ve discovered your trigger, try to find a similar but healthy option. This is where I replaced Coke with lemon water; slouching with simply taking a walk and stretching my back every hour; and chilling at home after work with workout exercises that I actually found fun.
You could decide to walk to the office instead of driving or getting off the bus earlier to walk. You could switch to a healthier breakfast cereal instead of grabbing a sugary snack when you head out of the door.
By doing this, you aren’t getting rid of the act altogether like you would if you completely gave something up with nothing to fill that void. This helps your brain accept the improved habit more.
Create a defence plan
Everyone has moments of weakness and that want to revert back to the bad habit will rear its ugly head. This is where a plan can help counteract these moments.
Think of things you can do when the temptations come. For example, if you want to check your phone less, ask your friend or partner to keep it for you or switch it off and read a book. If you’re a starter for an exercise routine, like me, get someone to do it with you to keep you accountable.
Decide on something you will do once you feel triggered to go back to your old habit. Repeating these positive alternative habits consistently will help wire your brain to see them as your normal new habit over time.
Delete: Remove temptations
Remove stuff that reminds you of the bad habit
Getting rid of anything that reminds you of your bad habit is essential. For example, I got rid of coke in my office and at home and replaced my usual office chair with an exercise ball. It makes it much easier to stop slipping back in a weak moment.
Avoid all kinds of temptations
In the same vein, avoid places or people that you know will tempt you back into that bad habit. Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach to avoid the temptation to buy trashy snacks, don’t drive past that fast food joint but find an alternative route instead, say no more often to the friend you know will get you drunk again this weekend.
It’s all about not putting yourself in the situation where you’re in danger of relapsing.
The Control Alternate Delete Method uses the right steps you need to overcome your need to indulge in your bad habits. Working with your core psychology, emotions and feelings behind your actions is what makes this method effective and easy to apply to all bad habits you have.
Bad habits are easy to form and making changes can seem difficult but remember that it’s all about consistency and repetition.
Start using the Control Alternate Delete Method today and you can stop a bad habit permanently.
What bad habit do you want to put a stop to once and for all? You must set aside time and pick one bad habit to focus on. Start using the steps to increase and maintain more positivity in your life moving forward.
More Resources About Changing Habits
- Do You Really Understand What a Habit Is?
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
- How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You
- 24 Best Habit Tracking Apps
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