At different stages in our lives, we may be seized with the desire to learn a new skill. The inspiration and desire to do so may stem out of anything: a book, a movie, a friend’s new hobby. We might think that we are motivated enough to pursue that particular activity, but in reality, we may find out that we really don’t have much time to allot to the acquisition of that new skill/activity in our hectic lives.
Be it learning a new language ( j’aime Français !) or trying to improve our health and lifestyle ( yoga or meditation anyone?), we just don’t seem to find time. Well, now Josh Kaufman’s new book “The First 20 Hours” offers an innovative solution: Rapid Skill Acquisition (RSA). Kaufman lists 10 principles of RSA in his book and these 10 principles can prove to be very helpful in the acquisition of just about any skill, bearing in mind if you are persistence and practice regularly. These steps can be outlined with the simple example of learning to paint in oil.
10 simple principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition:
• Choose an appealing problem: If you’re really curious about something, you’ll try to devote more time to it and leave other activities for a while. When you are curious about oil paintings, you’ll try to read about how to go about it, research different patterns and painting techniques and be anxious to buy all the right painting materials.
• Focusing your efforts on acquiring just one skill at a time: If you’re interested in learning oil painting, don’t deviate from that and try to learn glass painting at the same time. You’ll develop a skill for a particular activity only if you focus.
• Plan out your target performance level: Imagine what you’d like to achieve after you’ve acquired that skill. How many paintings would you like to do every week or every month? Would you focus on abstracts or portraits or other styles?
• Divide your skill into sub skills: To learn oil painting, you’ll need to learn about different brush strokes, the consistency of different paints and about different color combinations. You’ll need to know how much turpentine oil to use to wash brushes and to use in painting.
• Obtain essential tools: You’ll need to make sure that you have the right tools. Canvas as well as the right brushes and paints to begin.
• Get rid of all possible distractions: You really need to focus on learning the new skill and distractions such as ringing phones, blaring music, television or social media websites on your computer may only distract you. Moreover, it would do you good to plan ahead and not let any self doubts or fear of embarrassment stop you from achieving your goals.
• Allot a specific time to practice: When you are committed to learning a new skill, make sure you appoint a specific duration to practice. It would do you good to at least spare 90 minutes for practice every day.
• Create a network of friends who share similar interests: Make new friends who share a passion for oil painting and carry out discussions on it.
• Take breaks: Don’t attempt to finish a painting in one sitting. Take breaks in between and try to pace yourself.
• Focus on quantity and speed: You can’t expect yourself to paint like a Picasso from the start. Focus on quality and speed and once you believe you’ve gotten the hang of it, then try to shift your attention to quantity. Remember, you can’t practice perfectly!
Oil painting is just an example.
With enough willpower, persistence and practice, one can acquire a new skill. So what new skill are you thinking of developing?
Kathleen Townsend is a regular blogger, writing mostly on topics of general interest to her readers. A sociology enthusiast, she is a graduate of George Mason University, USA. Presently she works for www.learninglaw.com.