I’ve been there. If you’re working full time or are a full-time mom or student, it’s hard to find the time to learn new skills. But if there’s something you’ve been thinking of learning for a while and haven’t had the time to commit to, the new year is a great time to start!
In this article, I’ll detail why you should consider learning a new skill, give examples of new skills to learn, and discuss how to learn new skills, including how to time find time to do so.
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Why you should learn new skills?
1. Advance your career or change careers.
Learning new skills is a surefire way to get promoted at work, land a new job, or change careers entirely. Plus, if it’s career-related, your employer may even pay for you to take a class.
2. Personal development and fulfilment
This is a big one and is one of my primary motivations to learn new skills. Working towards (and achieving!) goals feels good and keeps you from feeling stuck in life. Accomplishing things and finally grasping difficult concepts is very fulfilling.
3. It’s fun!
If you’re passionate about what you’re learning (or even if you’re not!) it can be great fun!
4. Make new connections
Learning new skills opens up new demographics for you to connect with. Learning to code? Join local meetups and learn together! Learning a language? you may be able to make new friends with your newfound skills.
5. Financial gain
Learning a new skill is a great way to start a side hustle in 2021. Take blogging for example—learning skills like SEO, affiliate marketing, and social media marketing can help you make profit from your blog. (For more tips on starting a money-making blog, check out this article).
New Skills to Learn
1. Tech skills
Side note: I’m going to be posting more about cybersecurity soon so stay tuned.
Tech skills are super in-demand career wise and are great for side hustles. I find coding super fun (read more about why I learned to code here) and solving coding challenges personally fulfilling. It’s also given me something in common with lots of people and sparked some solid friendships.
2. Language skills
Language skills are another great type of skill to learn in 2021. I will admit, I’ve let my language skills slip a bit since I moved to the UK, but I used to love learning languages. Duolingo is a great way to start learning a language.
3. Artistic skills
Everyone needs a creative outlet. Why not take up something like painting, drawing, graphic design, or creative writing? Check out sites like Skillshare which has tonnes of creative courses. I personally love learning how to paint and have been getting into graphic design since I started my blog!
4. Business and entrepreneurship skills
I think everyone should know some basic business and entrepreneurship skills. Business skills can help you advance in just about any career and are crucial if you want to build a side hustle. LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and EdX have lots of options.
5. Soft skills
More people should consciously learn soft skills like management and negotiating to help them in their careers and everyday life. LinkedIn Learning has lots of great courses on these types of skills.
Tips to learn new skills
1. Understand why you’re doing it.
If you’re going to stick with learning a new skill, you need to have a strong enough ‘why’. Whenever you feel stuck or don’t feel like learning, you can go back to your ‘why’ to get motivated again. For more tips on getting motivated check out this article.
See the list above if you need some inspiration!
2. Split it into smaller chunks and do a little each day. Plan everything out.
Planning is the key to success when you’re learning new skills. One of the biggest roadblocks I’ve faced when I’m trying to learn something new is figuring out what I actually need to learn. That’s why I recommend breaking a big goal like ‘learning data science’ into smaller chunks. For more information on how I plan and break things into small, manageable components, check out this article.
3. Schedule time in in the morning before you’re likely to get busy.
I’m personally much more likely to do something if it’s the first thing on my schedule for the day, before I start getting tired. This is why I like to go to the gym right after I wake up. If something is important to you, try to work on it before you’re pulled in a million other directions by your other commitments.
4. Register for an online course that you have to do each week. If you pay for a course you also may be more likely to actually do it.
Signing up to a course with weekly assignments on platforms like Coursera helps you stay on track with your learning. I have also found in the past that paying for something makes me less likely to neglect it, which is why, for example, I recommend using Data Camp to learn data science over other options.
For tips on mastering online learning, check out this article.
5. Get into a routine.
Motivation comes and goes and a routine is much easier to stick to. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit—the more you can sit down and start your learning autopilot without even thinking about it, the better.
6. Learn in the way you enjoy most—reading, videos, etc. Also focus on projects you enjoy.
I personally learn best from videos than just reading a book, for example. Figure out how you learn best and, perhaps more importantly, what type of learning you enjoy most. If you enjoy how you’re learning (and picking things up more easily that way), you’ll stay motivated to keep with it.
The same goes for projects to practice your new skills. If you’re learning to code, don’t spend hours trying to build a game if it’s not something you care about at ALL. Focus on projects you enjoy.
7. Learn new skills with a buddy.
Learning with a friend is more fun and will help keep you motivated when you feel like slacking off. That being said, it’s also okay to take time off sometimes!
8. Make sure it’s something you actually want to learn. It’s okay not to learn a new skill.
Now, you may need to learn something for your job or for university. But if you’re just doing it for fun and it stops being fun, don’t stress it. Not everyone HAS to learn to code or paint or whatever other skill you might take up!
9. Try not to get behind—once you get behind it’s a lot harder to catch up.
I find that once I’m behind on learning something (for example in an online course), it’s a LOT harder to catch up and I often end up losing motivation entirely. Try to stick with your curriculum if you can.
10. Use a deadline to motivate you.
Nothing can light a fire under your bum faster than a looming deadline! Now I don’t recommend promising something you can’t deliver but hear me out. I’m TA-ing a course next term that required me to know a particular coding language I didn’t know when I signed up. This motivated me to get my sh*t together and learn it in the first term of the year.
Are you planning to learn new skills in 2021? Do you have any tips for learning new skills? Let me know in the comments below!