Fledgling to Master – a new skill In 20 min a day

So I just finished watching the matrix and you know that part where Neo downloads combat skills directly into his brain? If only life were like that. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were able to learn a new skill in seconds and have the competency to begin applying that skill immediately?

Unfortunately were stuck in analog having to take new information slowly through our ojos. But just because you can’t download like Neo doesn’t mean you can’t get better at learning. In fact you can and you should, and adding a little structure can drastically shorten the learning curve.So here are a few things that I’ve come across nerding out on personal development and my quest to be like Neo.


It’s simple, straight forward and if applied will has the potential to turn you into a renaissance man… or woman.For most people learning a new skill can be very intimidating. Taking that first step is difficult and keeping motivation long enough to see results keeps most people putting it off until tomorrow.

Only tomorrow never comes.

That is why it’s soooo important to make sure it’s a skill that really gets you hot and bothered, and is relevant to your life. Pick halfheartedly and get halfhearted results.

In The first 20 hours, the author shows how you can become competent in most any skill in the first 20 hours of practice. Which is roughly 40 min a day for a month.

That might not sound like much but those first 20 hours can be hell and if you have not picked a skill that gets your juices going. So pick with your heart.the second biggest requirement of rapid skill acquisition is the deconstruction phase. This is where you take your skill like coding or speed reading and break it down into smaller sub skills that are important for acquiring this new skill.

For example a sub skill for learning to code might be memorizing the most frequently used commands.

Sure there are tons of other bits of information that would be useful when learning to code but the deconstruction phase is all about choosing the sub skills that will get you the most in terms of results.

Simply break the skill down to roughly ten sub skills and choose the top 3 or 4 that seam to be the most important.If you’re having trouble deciding what those skills are, a simple Google search for the fundamentals of coding will bring up tons of results.

Simply skim through several articles and the things that come up most often are usually a good indicator of what sub skills will be the most important to learn. Whether it’s golfing, swimming, speed reading or how to meditate.

Deconstruct for the meat and potatoes.

For most, acquiring a new skill will be a lot of spray and pray. It’s hard to hit a target you have yet to define and a good chunk of the frustration associated with learning a new skill comes from having unclear goals.

For example if your goal is to simply learn how to code you might spend a lot of time smashing your face into the keyboard out of frustration.

What constitutes being a good coder?  If your goal is mastery from the get go your first 20 hours is likely to be unfocused and unrewarding.

On the other hand if you have a very specific goal of being competent enough to build a mobile app for meditation you’ll have clear feedback on where you are in your progress and 20 hours of focused learning can get you there and once you’ve reached your goal its a hell of a lot easier to continue once you have that base level of competency.

Last but not least is you need to make the time to practice. If you are “hoping” to find time to practice a new skill you’ll probably end up having a good few days of practice that quickly fades into putting it off until tomorrow or straight up forgetting.

An easy way to fix this is to have a set time each day dedicated to learning that new skill distraction free.Set a timer for 20 min where you are 100% focused on practice. No phones, no kids, no email. Once the clock starts you are locked in for 20 min of highly focused and clearly defined practice.

In order to quickly learn a new skill there are a few basic steps you’ll need to take.First, you’ll need to pick a new skill you’re passionate about that you can make a 20 hour commitment to.  If you’re unsure it’s probably best to pick a different skill.

Second you need to deconstruct that skill down into it’s smallest and most important parts. Skimming books or articles on the subject will point you in the direction of the 3-4 skills that will give you the most return for your time.

Thirdly, you need to choose clear feedback. Before you take aim and begin shooting you must know what your target is. What do you want to be able to do?

If you’re skill is dance, setting your sights on becoming a good dancer will more than likely lead to frustration, but if you would like to be able to tango a full song you will have clear feedback on if you are making progress.

And last but not least is to make the time! Set your timer for 20 min and give your uninterrupted attention to practicing.

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