Learning new skills

4 simple steps to master new skills

While companies adapt their talent strategy to the digital transformation era, “learning” or “skills” are the new buzz words. We all read news reports like “The World Economic Forum predicts that investing in upskilling and reskilling the global workforce will increase global GDP by $6.5 trillion by 2030″ and “A 2019 report from IBM predicted that, by 2022, over 120 million workers will need reskilling to keep up with the pace of change”.

I’m sure that you’ve thought about leveling-up your skills or learning new ones from scratch so, here are 4 simple steps to help you move out of your comfort zone to mastering new skills:

1. Become aware that you ARE in the comfort zone

Everything around you feels safe, and you feel in control? Do you take small risks and receive small rewards? If this is how you describe your current situation, you should know that you are in your comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with it! But ask yourself if you want to make a change or you’d rather want more. Your thirst for dopamine will say “YES! Let’s do this!”, and your serotonin will say “Let’s stay here and enjoy the moment!”. It’s up to you to go one way or the other. If you embrace the YES, you are ready to move to the next step.

2. It’s normal to feel afraid of the unknown

 The beginning is always the hardest. From my experience, I recommend taking it easy and creating a list with all your main areas of interest (like taking up a new sport or a new hobby, learning some tech skills, etc.). Next, prioritize all the entries on the list (priority zero means the highest interest, …. priority 1001, the lowest one) and choose one. Keep in mind that it’s normal to feel afraid when you look at the list because you don’t know how to do those things.

During this step, you will go through a rollercoaster of emotions. There might be people who will make you feel bad about trying new things or making that particular choice and not another one. You will start asking yourself if you are capable of learning what’s needed to mark that list entry as done. You might also be doubting your choice or finding excuses to drop out. But remember, it’s your fear speaking, and it’s normal to go through all these stages to move to the next step.

3. You learn a lot of new things and the excitement increases

Reading books or posts, listening to podcasts, watching tutorials, getting advice from others; all these help you create a solid theoretical foundation. But usually, the real challenge arises when trying to put theory into practice. The first few times you try it, allow yourself to fail fast and embrace the failure. Calm the perfectionist in you; don’t take hours to overanalyze what went wrong, and keep away from sleepless nights. Keep in mind that nobody learned ballet in one single class. Practice makes perfect, and it’s all up to your level of engagement: one picture a day, one bike ride per week, one book per month, etc. Of course, you will bump into obstacles, but each situation will teach you how to do things better next time, and give you valuable lessons learned. Your fear of the unknown will decrease while the confidence that you are on the right track to acquiring new skills will boost.

4. You embrace your growth

It might take a few intense days, weeks, months, or even years, but the important thing is that once you’ve reached your goal, you’ll be living your dream: you’ll be a good photographer, your bike will be your friend, you’ll master Python, or you’ll rock that cool guitar. When you look at yourself, you’ll know that all that effort has paid off, and yes, you’ll be thinking about new objectives like taking a photoshoot at a fancy restaurant, joining a biking competition, playing guitar at a concert, etc. The sky (or rather your ambition level) is the limit. You will have overcome so many obstacles, and you achieved your goal of learning new skills. Embrace your growth and enjoy this moment!

We go through all these steps so many times in life. Some learning curves are smoother than others. Some come with the pressure of skilling (start building skills), upskilling (improving current skill set), or reskilling (building skills in other areas) to stay relevant in the labor market. Others may come from your decision to make a career change. We never stop learning.

At the end of the day, it’s important to know these simple steps, embrace the emotions and struggles that come with them, and celebrate each small or big success.