The Essence of Learning New Skills

by Nick Velasquez

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Learning any skill takes practice. We sometimes look for shortcuts, but there are none. The next best thing we can find are strategies and techniques to make the most out of the practice we do,  but we’ll still have to practice, it is the foundation of learning and improving anything in life.

Let’s use an analogy very familiar to most people and then we’ll move back to learning skills. Let’s assume that you want to lose weight. There is a basic formula for losing weight, diet and exercise. There are endless combinations of the two, and you’ll find different programs for each that would prove more efficient than others, but taking everything else away, if you follow a simple diet and exercise routine consistently you will lose weight, I promise you that. Same goes for learning skills.

If we already know the formula to lose weight why are we so obsessed and spend so much time, energy, and money trying to find “the best” exercising and dieting programs? The reason is that we are desperately looking for shortcuts, we want it now and we want it without effort.
Once in a while, we’ll find a program that seems to work but we quit it, Why? Because we want an even easier program. We want to cheat our way to success.

The reality is that even if we find the most efficient program in existence we’ll still have to diet or exercise in some form, and most likely do both. We can’t scape the foundation of weight loss. If we don’t truly commit to the goal and process of losing weight, regardless of how much effort is required, we’ll quit even the best program.

The analogy works for learning skills. It takes practice to learn any skill, it’s part of the process. If you don’t practice, you don’t learn. I can give you ways to get the most out of your practice and make the process more efficient, but you will still have to practice. It’s unavoidable.

The bright side is that if you are truly committed, you’ll slowly start accepting and enjoying practicing as an intrinsic aspect of your search for mastery -Just like you can get very into fitness and nutrition after making it part of your life and accepting it as the basis for losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. If you are not committed, however, you’ll endlessly keep looking for shortcuts, switching from program to program without ever being able to improve.


So what do I mean by Commitment? Commitment means being willing to put the time and energy necessary for as long as it’s necessary until you achieve what you want. It means that even if you have an inefficient method and would take you twice as long as others, you are still willing to do it. Someone who is truly committed to learning something does not care if it takes one year or five to achieve, the only thing that matters is to achieve it at some point.

This is a key attitude of highly successful people, they are goal oriented first, and efficiency oriented second. In other words, they care more about getting to the destination than about how quickly they can get there. Let’s look at an example. Imagine you start running every morning to get in shape. let’s say also that it takes an entire year of consistently going for a run each day for you to get in shape.

Are there faster methods that require less effort? Sure, but they mean nothing if you don’t follow them. Think of people with expensive home fitness centers that never use them. Ideally, we would want the commitment and the efficiency -Having the home fitness center and using it every day- but if you can only have one, I rather you have the commitment.

What ultimately matters is that you can get what you want. Commitment without efficiency will get you results in the long term. Efficiency without commitment is a waste of time.

So why are we discussing all this?
I wanted to bring this up because in the beginning stages of your learning, you’ll probably start with a program that is far from ideal, but you will be moving forward. Will it take a bit longer? Sure, will you pick up bad habits that later you’ll have to unlearn? Definitely, but it’s a better option than standing on the sidelines waiting to find the “perfect method” before you do anything.

I am not saying you should not look for the most efficient ways to achieve what you want, in fact, that’s the entire premise of this website, to give you strategies so you can get the most out of the time and energy you put into learning a skill.

What I do want to make clear is that you should be committed to your goal. Without that, all the strategies, techniques and tactics I can give you will be useless. You won’t apply any of them; instead, you will look somewhere else for the promise of less practice and easier results.

Remember: There are no shortcuts to practice, there are only ways to optimize it. But before you start thinking about implementing them you have to commit to your goal and to the process. Without commitment, the search for greater and greater efficiency becomes a contradiction; you spend so much time looking for greater efficiency that you never work on getting better.
Commitment comes first, efficiency second.

In the upcoming articles we’ll be discussing Goals, Mastery, Learning strategies, and more. Don’t miss a post, sign up below to get my newest articles in your inbox.

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