Learn new stuff! 3 things to do and my #20days story

The wish to learn something new is driven by need or curiosity. It’s also good for your brain to keep it young, but I know very few people who learn something new because of that.

Let’s say it’s need that drives you. Your journey won’t be easy. You do it because you have to. If you are lucky to enjoy it after a while, then you will learn more and get better at it faster. Otherwise it might become a very difficult journey and not pleasant at all. But because you have to, there is a bigger chance you might finish it. Get that certificate of completion, know how to carve wood or become a master in SCRUM.

What drives your learning keeps you going when the road gets tough.

If curiosity drives you, the learning journey will be very exciting at the beginning. Then as the learning curve gets steeper, the more dull it gets. The bigger the chance to quit.

Any skill, up to a certain level, is easy to gain. It’s easy to “learn how to make a logo in 10 days”. But if you want to get to mastery, 10 days is not enough. From day 10 to day 100 you will sweat more. It will become harder. And many will quit – even before 100 days.

So you try learning graphic design and quit before 100 days. Then you try public speaking and quit after the 10th speech. Then you try painting and quit after the 5th painting. Then you try coding and quit after reading a book about it. If you quit repeatedly before getting on top of that learning curve, there is a big chance to get that into you DNA and transform your life. Not positively. You become a serial learning quitter. That’s a loser.

3 ways to unbecome a serial learning quitter!

You got to stick to it. Keep to the road. Make that journey. And there are ways to unbecome a serial learning quitter:

  1. Understand how it works. Dreyfus does a very good job at explaining skills acquisition. In easy language: you can’t chop an onion like a master chef unless you’ve chopped thousands of onions. But until you get to a thousand onions, you need to start with one, learn how to peel it, understand what knife is the most suitable, even drop some tears. It takes patience. And when you invent your own way of chopping an onion, then you’ve become an expert.
  2. Fuel your motivation. When the road will get tough, what’s your medicine? Remember what brought you join as a kid when you learn to ride a bike. Recreate that system for your current learning journey. Toughen up and don’t quit before the dip. Or don’t start at all. Motivation is cyclical and it fuels itself if you are doing something you enjoy. If you are learning because you “have to” then you absolutely must find a way to do it with joy. It’s the path to self-fueling motivation. If you don’t find this path, your motivation will be depleted and you’re doomed to become a serial learning quitter.
  3. Choose what works. If listening to a lesson is easier for you than reading a manual, go for it. If coding a solution for a problem helps you learn coding better than reading about coding, go for it. If getting dirty is helpful, then get under that car and break it into pieces and learn from putting it back together. Different things might work in different points of your journey.

Those are the 3 most important things to do. I promised a story in the title. So read on, for my story.

I am addict. A learning addict.

My learning passion is fueled by curiosity and my curiosity is infinite. But I do quit learning new stuff when I hit the dip sometimes. Some other times I just get bored. When I “have to” learn something, I always rewire my brain to believe that the reason for learning that is not because I must, but because it’s meaningful. And I make it a fun journey somehow. Here is my journey of “20 days of calligraphy”.

  1. The reason: I wanted to do something that has the same effect as mindfulness for me. That is, working with my hands. I don’t have a garden, I love letters and calligraphy looks nice. Plus you don’t need to know how to draw, you just need to know how to write.
  2. Complete novice: I thought of searching for a book about it. It seemed boring. I watched about 50-100 very short videos of lettering artists on instagram. I asked an artist what tools to buy. I tried her tools. I bought my tools. I tried to do the lettering in the short videos.
  3. Advanced beginner: I managed to make all the letter of the alphabet looking decently after about 6h of practicing. I watched some more short videos, a couple of longer ones and read a few articles about “what beginners shouldn’t be afraid” when learning calligraphy. All very helpful.
  4. The flow: I must confess I always liked handwriting as a child, so this was like pure meditation for me. I immerse myself so deep in it that I lose track of time. That’s the flow – that’s when you learn.
  5. Competent: I got good enough to hand-write quite fast a quote, short phrases etc. I was capable of not just writing them, but making them look aesthetic.  I ordered more brushpens and brushes. I already knew what tools are for what exactly and what result they can create. I developed a routine. And the flow state was gone.
  6. Proficient: This is where I think I am now. To keep this journey going, I need to learn some new techniques and regain my flow state. Get over the “3 ways I know of lettering letter k“. This is the dip. I might quit cause I kind of know a bit of calligraphy, just enough to brag about it and create nice stuff to post on instagram. But quitting won’t get me to become an…
  7. Expert: That point of the learning journey where you master many techniques, know how to do things, have already applied all the rules and it’s time to break them. And make your own style. How long it will take? I don’t know about other people and I don’t care to compare my learning journey with theirs, as calligraphy is actually quite a “one person journey” anyways. For me I think it will take the rest of the year with practicing 2-3 times a week and watching more videos of other people. It will become more and more difficult because there aren’t many experts showcasing their calligraphy online for free. The big plus (for me) is that words fascinate me and there will always be a word I will want to hand-write in a cool color, with a nicely-textured brushpen 🙂

Learn new stuff!



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