There are umpteen times when you would be faced with the strongest of all desires to learn something new – a new skill, a new language, a new tool or something of that sort which you think could help you secure a better position in your industry or within your team or get you a better job. I believe anyone who is in the so-called IT industry can totally relate to what I just said. Somehow you didn’t get that opportunity earlier due to some reason, maybe you didn’t have time, and had some commitments or you felt you were self-sufficient. You might think it’s too late now, how would you be able to cope up, how would you fare, will you be mocked upon. My advice – shift delete all those negative thoughts.
If you really think that learning something new can help you – like a stressbuster or like a hope giver or if it has stayed in your mind for some time, I strongly suggest that you should follow your mind. It’s never too late. NOW is the time to begin.
Let’s try to figure out some common steps to follow so that you stay on track and don’t wander off.
- Narrowing down you interest – Ask yourself ‘what is it that you want to learn?’ If you have a defined skill or language, then you have completed your step 1. For example, ‘I want to learn Perl’ or ‘I want to learn Spanish’ is a defined interest. Instead if you say, ‘I want to learn some programming language’. You have to decide for yourself what you really want to learn. Let’s say for example, ‘I want to learn a foreign language’. Then you should narrow it down by asking yourself some questions like which language? Why this language? Or you could surely consult someone and then finalize. Remember, it’s finally you who have to be convinced of what you really want to do. So you should pick one that gives you a confidence that you can achieve it.
- Deciding how you will learn/master it – This is a rather tough choice, do you want to self-learn or are you going to learn it from someone else? Are you going to join a class or will you be able to learn on your own. There are many factors which would affect this decision. If you need an external help to understand or practice your new skill, then you would have to join a class. Foreign languages are usually better learned as a group. Or you could find a friend who shares a similar interest. Do you want to self-learn, at your own pace and whenever you like? This is also possible. Maybe you could feel regular classes are long and you don’t have enough time to spend on it or it could be costly. This is nothing to worry about. There are scores of online materials, pdf, tutorials available freely so there’s no dearth for study stuffs.
- Collecting materials/ Finding information – You need to collect all necessary stuffs required. All study materials, download/bookmark and keep if you have opted for self-learn. It’s not wise to spend hours searching for materials after you have started studying as it is going to be a total distraction. If you have decided to join a class, get in touch with them about availability of course, number of students, fees structure etc. It’s always wise to start at a place close to where you stay as long travel could tire you down and leave you unmotivated.
- Estimating the duration – This is very crucial. You can’t keep on studying for a lifetime. I know learning is a life time experience and you can’t call yourself a master anytime but there could be many reasons for you to estimate how long you can continue on this skill. It could be like you have to take an exam on this new skill. Say, in 3 months you have an exam, so the duration you have is basically 3 months. In some cases you don’t have such a timeline, create one. Say, I will learn this and this and this of this skill in 4 months, then 4 months is your duration.
- Finding the time – You should decide how much time would you be spending on this new skill, how many hours per day, per week and you should strictly adhere to it. Include this as part of your daily schedule. It could be a couple of hours in the weekend or during the weekday. This should go along with step 4. Be realistic, you can’t say I will study 20 hours per day which is practically impossible.
- Finding the place – You should find a suitable place to sit and learn with minimal distractions. If you live with friends or family, make them aware you are doing so and so and hence you shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s too critical.
- Starting – You should Start learning. Decide a date when you will begin and do it. There might be lot of starting trouble but if you can reach till here, you have a high chance of achieving your goal. When you decide on a date, ensure that it’s not too far away because then other commitments can pop up and you might not be able to begin.
- Being on track – Once you have started, ensure that you stay focused and continue to move towards your goal. You could track yourself, you have covered these and these, make a plan but not a big plan. You could plan of covering these many topics before next Saturday. Also reward yourself when you cross certain milestones. For some reason, if you skip a milestone, don’t be disheartened. Go ahead, define a new one and achieve it.
- Discussing and learning – During the course, it would be nice to discuss about your skill with people you think are knowledgeable in it. You should get your doubts cleared as and when possible.
- Reaching your goal – Once you reach your goal, it’s time for celebration. Congratulate yourself for reaching so far.
Hope to see you all waving the green flag of achievement very soon. Good Luck!