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5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

5 Steps to Pushing Boundaries and Growing

You know that I like getting my ideas from non-traditional sources. I was speaking with an incredibly talented video producer and actor yesterday about her show, Galacticast. It’s a sci-fi comedy series available as a podcast, and catching fire on the internet among folks who love catching the references. We talked about quality.

The thing about Casey and Rudy are that they are producing for a medium that currently accepts the absolute worst content as well as professionally-crafted stuff. Go to the Apple iTunes Store and look at their podcast options, and you’ll see Jack Black’s Nacho Libre mingling with “My Cat is Cute” or similar. The barrier to entry is some inexpensive, simple technology, and even the frailest of ideas. (See YouTube for lots of that). And yet, the folks who do Galacticast are putting their hearts and guts into it. Why?

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Casey says it’s because she feels it’s always important to develop your boundaries of quality. Pushing yourself a little bit further each time is a method for building value back to what you’re doing. This clearly can apply to how you choose to hack life.

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  • Know Your Current State– The only way to seek personal improvement is to take an honest and fair assessment of your talents. Feel free to poll others, if you are worried you won’t be honest. But get a sense of how you stack up in the qualities you think might matter to what you’re hoping to accomplish. (This, in itself, is a bonus hack. Looking at what skills you need will help you understand what you can develop next).
  • Describe the Ending– Dr. Stephen R. Covey says to think about what you’re hoping to achieve. To improve your quality, you have to know what end goal you have in mind. Casey McKinnon from Galacticast clearly wants to push the boundaries of new media entertainment by doing what she calls “Sci Fi / Lo Fi.” It’s a great way to rise above the scores of amateurs just throwing stuff at the screen.
  • Make Reasonable Stepping Stones– If you’re still a file clerk and your plan is to be CEO, don’t make your next move, “Apply for CEO role.” I’m thinking it won’t work. But you might put down, “get some books on leadership,” and “attend local business socials.” And don’t forget: people around you that know you tend to view you as who you HAVE BEEN to them all along. Don’t let that dissuade you. In fact, spend time around strangers, and you’ll see what your potential new roles feel like when reflected by these new people.
  • Check In, Re-Assess, Be Open– Often times, if the journey you set yourself upon is truly going to make a difference in your life, you might find yourself heading in a direction you hadn’t intended. Be open to going with it. But don’t just jump down new roads willy-nilly. Check in with your plans and stepping stones. Ask yourself whether these new thoughts or ideas are a surrender, a retreat, or a re-imagined possibility. If it’s option 3, consider branching off the path and seeing what that does for you. Warning: too many branches and you’re likely avoiding something instead of trying new things.
  • Reward Yourself, but Keep Going– When we’re successful at smaller things, there’s a great sense of accomplishment and pride. Rest on that step in the journey instead of seeing your goals met, and you’re setting yourself up to quit the full plan. It’s just too easy to be pleased with yourself, and quit there. Surrender the dime for the dollar, friends. You’ll be much happier in the end.

Developing yourself is a scalable asset. It brings more to your business, your personal life, and all avenues you choose to pursue. By living consciously, and by holding yourself to standards that you choose to improve, you find within you the potential to develop and grow beyond your current situation. It need not be an endless loop, and finding satisfaction and happiness with who you are and where you are in life is another matter altogether. They’re not exclusive. My point is merely that all life requires growth. Trees don’t stop. You shouldn’t either.

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–Chris Brogan writes about self-improvement and creativity at [chrisbrogan.com], when he’s not watching Galacticast and forgetting to be productive.

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process

In the movie The Matrix, everyone was intrigued with the ability that Neo and his friends possessed to learn new skills in a matter of seconds. With the incredible rise in technology today, the rapid learning in the movie is becoming much more of a reality than you realize.

The current generation has access to more knowledge and information than any before it. Through the internet, we are able to access all sorts of knowledge to answer almost every conceivable question. To become smarter, it’s more about the ability to learn faster, rather than being a natural born genius.

Here are 17 ways to kickstart your Matrix-style learning experience in a short amount of time.

1. Deconstruct and Reverse Engineer

Break down the skill that you want to learn into little pieces and learn techniques to master an isolated portion. The small pieces will come together to make up the whole skill.

For example, when you’re learning to play the guitar, learn how to press down a chord pattern with your fingers first without even trying to strum the chord. Once you are able to change between a couple of chord patterns, then add the strumming.

2. Use the Pareto Principle

Use the Pareto Principle, which is also known as the 80 20 rule. Identify the 20% of the work that will give you 80% of the results. Find out more about the 80 20 rule here: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

Take learning a new language for example. It does not take long to realize that some words pop up over and over again as you’re learning. You can do a quick search for “most commonly used French words,” for example, and begin to learn them first before adding on the rest.

3. Make Stakes

Establish some sort of punishment for not learning the skill that you are seeking. There are sites available that allow you to make a donation toward a charity you absolutely hate if you do not meet your goals. Or you can place a bet with a friend to light that fire under you.

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However, keep in mind that several studies have shown that rewards tend to be more motivating than punishment[1].

4. Record Yourself

Seeing yourself on video is a great way to learn from your mistakes and identify areas that you need to improve. This is very effective for any musicians, actors, speakers, performers, and dancers.

5. Join a Group

There are huge benefits to learning in a group. Not only are you able to learn from others but you’ll be encouraged to make progress together. Whether it’s a chess club, a mastermind group, or an online meet-up group, get connected with other like-minded individuals.

6. Time Travel

Visit the library. Although everything is moving more and more online, there are still such things called libraries.

Whether it’s a municipal library or your university library, you will be amazed at some of the books available there that are not accessible online. Specifically, look for the hidden treasures and wisdom contained in the really old books.

7. Be a Chameleon

When you want to learn new skills, imitate your biggest idol. Watch a video and learn from seeing someone else do it. Participate in mimicry and copy what you see.

Studies have shown that, apart from learning,[2]

“Mimicry is an effective tool not only to create ties and social relationships, but also for maintaining them.”

Visual learning is a great way to speed up the learning process. YouTube has thousands of videos on almost every topic available.

8. Focus

Follow one course until success! It’s easy to get distracted, to throw in the towel, or to become interested in the next great thing and ditch what you initially set out to do.

Ditch the whole idea of multitasking, as it has been shown to be detrimental and unproductive Simply focus on the one new skill at hand until you get it done.

9. Visualize

The mind has great difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imagined. That is why athletes practice mentally seeing their success before attempting the real thing[3].

Visualize yourself achieving your new skill and each step that you need to make to see results. This is an important skill to help when you’re learning the basics or breaking a bad habit.

Take a look at this article to learn how to do so: How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results

10. Find a Mentor

Success leaves clues. The best short cut to become an expert is to find an expert and not have to make the mistakes that they have made.

Finding out what NOT to do from the expert will fast-track your learning when you want to learn new skills. It is a huge win to have them personally walk you through what needs to be done. Reach out and send an email to them.

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If you need help learning how to find a mentor, check out this article.

11. Sleep on It

Practice your new skill within four hours of going to sleep.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA, is a noted rapid learning expert. He says that any practice done within this time frame causes your brain to embed the learning more rapidly into its neural pathways. Your memory and motor-mechanics are ingrained at a quicker level.

12. Use the 20-Hour Rule

Along with that tip, Kaufman also suggests 20 as the magic number of hours to dedicate to learning the new skill.

His reasoning is that everyone will hit a wall early on in the rapid learning stage and that “pre-committing” to 20 hours is a sure-fire way to push through that wall and acquire your new skill.[4]

Check out his video to find out more:

13. Learn by Doing

It’s easy to get caught up in reading and gathering information on how to learn new skills and never actually get around to doing those skills. The best way to learn is to do.

Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are physically engaged continuously. Keep alternating between research and practice.

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14. Complete Short Sprints

Rather than to force yourself into enduring hours upon hours of dedication, work in short sprints of about 20-30 minutes, then get up and stretch or take a short walk. Your brain’s attention span works best with short breaks, so be sure to give it the little rest it needs.

One study found that, between two groups of students, the students who took two short breaks when studying actually performed better than those who didn’t take breaks[5].

15. Ditch the Distractions

Make sure the environment you are in is perfect for your rapid-learning progress. That means ditching any social media, and the temptation to check any email. As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before you sit down to learn new skills, make sure that potential distractions are far from sight.

16. Use Nootropics

Otherwise known as brain enhancers, these cognitive boosters are available in natural herbal forms and in supplements.

Many students will swear by the increased focus that nootropics will provide[6], particularly as they get set for some serious cramming. Natural herbal nootropics have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic traditions to improve the mind and learning.

Find out more about brain supplements in this article.

17. Celebrate

For every single small win that you experience during the learning process, be sure to celebrate. Your brain will release endorphins and serotonin as you raise your hands in victory and pump your fits. Have a piece of chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back. This positive reinforcement will help you keep pushing forward as you learn new skills.

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The Bottom Line

Learning a new skill should be exciting and fun. Whether you use online courses, real world experience, YouTube videos, or free online resources, take time to learn in the long term. Keep picturing the joy of reaching the end goal and being a better version of yourself as continual motivation.

More Tips on How to Learn New Skills

Featured photo credit: Elijah M. Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

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