2014 – How to learn anything


Usually around this time of year I get über excited to write out all my new years resolutions… but this year was a little different.  It didn’t take me any time at all because I already knew what all of them were and I already had a plan to accomplish them.  I’m not sure if anyone reads this, or if it helps anyone else, but it sure has helped me.  In 2013 I accomplished so many of my random goals, and I know writing about them here made a big impact of actually following through and doing the work.  I self titled 2013 – the year of achieving forgotten goals and growing up, here’s a look at what I did:

I made new promo videos and websites

I learned to keep better finacial records and just general good finance rules

I learned how to do more hairstyles

I learned how to I tried to go greener and be more environmentally conscience

I wrote about Japan, learning Japanese and Japanese cooking

I used all my spices

I also relearned 2 important lessons that have been hampering me most of my life:

1.) I always try to do too much, and it always ends up costing me.

2.) I get more excited about planning work than consistently doing it… I tend to get distracted and keep reworking the plan to make it perfect instead of just putting in the hours to accomplish the task at hand.

So while I have many many smaller goals and projects that I want to tackle in 2014, I want to try my first attempt at really learning from my past mistakes and focus on

1.) Not planning too much each month, no multi-tasking

2.) Make your plan, then put in your 20 hours, then stick to it.

The first one may seem a little vague now, but hopefully as the year progresses I will be able to catch myself over-planning!  In the second one, you may wonder why 20 hours?  Well it’s based on this guy:

Josh Kaufman suggests you can learn the basics of anything with 20 hours of real practice.  I’m interested in how well this will work, but since it’s basically what I am trying to do anyway… I’m keen to believe it!

Please watch the video as he can explain it far better than I can paraphrase it, but the basic steps he suggests seem to be:

  1. Deconstruct the skill: Break down the parts and find the most important things to practice first. If you were learning to play a musical instrument, for example, knowing just a few chords gives you access to tons of songs. If you want to learn a new language, learn the most common 2,000 words and you’ll have 80% text coverage.
  2. Self-correct: Use reference materials to learn enough that you know when you make a mistake so you can correct yourself.
  3. Remove barriers to learning: Identify and remove anything that distracts you from focusing on the skill you want to learn… the internet, TV, ect.
  4. Practice at least 20 hours.

20 hours amounts to just 40 minutes a day for a month, or an hour a day allowing for some days off.  At the very least, it can’t hurt 🙂  As I’ve known for a long time there is no magic pill for learning anything.  You put the work in and you get results out.

I feel pretty excited about 2014 (I’ve always loved even numbered years) and while I am riding this new years resolution high, I am going to try for a project that I have been putting off for almost a decade… learning basic French.



2 thoughts on “2014 – How to learn anything

  1. Have you read his book? It’s a great read and not too long. It’s also on Audible if you prefer audiobooks (as I do)

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