Randy Ingermanson on Learning a new Skill or The Skill of the Month Club

Wow, is January really nearly over? I can’t believe it.
And what I also can’t believe is that my New Years Resolutions have already vanished. What better to do than read a motivating post by Randy Ingermanson and decide to learn a new skill?
Well, let’s try it out!
This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
I can only encourage you to sign up to his newsletter. It’s always good advice on anything writing- and publishing-related. Enjoy!

Imagine how much more effective you’d be a month from now if you learned a new skill in the next 30 days.

Think that’s impossible? Of course it is, if you aim too high. But why aim too high?

I’m not talking about becoming the world’s leading expert in a month. Not going to happen. I’m talking about developing an intermediate level in a particular skill that would make your life better right now if you had it.

For example, here are a few skills that might make your life better:

  • Learning how to type faster.
  • Learning how to use Microsoft Word or Scrivener to its full potential.
  • Learning how to use Microsoft Excel effectively.
  • Learning how to use PowerPoint or KeyNote effectively.
  • Learning how to format an e-book.
  • Learning how to format a paper book.
  • Learning how to create an audiobook.
  • Learning how to do basic graphic design in Photoshop.
  • Learning how to turn 2-D images into 3-D images using one of the commercial tools available, such as BoxShot.
  • Learning how to code up simple web pages in HTML.
  • Learning how to style those web pages using CSS.
  • Learning how to add functionality to those web pages with Javascript.
  • Learning how to create web sites using WordPress.
  • Learning how to create and use a relational database.
  • Learning basic accounting.
  • Learning how to write effective ad copy.
  • Learning how to create and run Facebook ads.
  • Or Google ads.
  • Or Amazon AMS ads.
  • Or BookBub ads.
  • Learning how to create and send an e-mail newsletter.
  • Learning how to blog.
  • Learning how to edit video.
  • Learning how to do a podcast.
  • Learning how to use Twitter effectively.
  • Or Pinterest.
  • Or Instagram.
  • Or whatever your favorite social media is.
  • Learning how to speak in public.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

Yeah, actually I am too. That’s a lot of things. I’ve learned some of them. Others, I have no intention of ever learning—not because I can’t, but because I don’t see a reason to.

But nobody says you have to learn all of those skills. Maybe most of the above seem useless to you. Fine, but there have to be some skills you can think of that would make you a more effective novelist.

Make a list of those skills. Now is as good a time as any. Jot them down or type them up.

Now choose one.

One skill that would give you a lot of bang for your buck.

One skill that you’d love to have in your arsenal.

One skill that would make you more attractive to a publisher or make you a more powerful indie author or just make you a better, more productive person.

One skill.

How good could you get at that skill if you focused on it for 30 days?

Not world class, probably.

But better than a beginner, certainly. Way better.

In a month, you could be pretty darn good. You could reach an intermediate level in that skill. Yes, you really could, if you get a book and work through it, or buy a course and work through it, or find info online and work through it. Set a deadline—learn as much as you can in 30 days. Then see where you are in a month.

That might be all the training you’d ever need in that skill. Remember, the most important 20% of the information in a course usually gets you 80% of where you need to go, so dig in and focus and just see how much you can learn in those four weeks.

Of course, you might love your newfound skill so much that you’ll want to go on and become an amazing expert. That can happen. But even if you never get past the intermediate level, that would put you well ahead of the pack of people who are not yet even beginners because they haven’t even started learning that skill.

And it’s possible you’d really hate your new skill and would be thrilled when you reached the end of the 30 days and could quit studying it. But you’d still have learned something. Probably something quite good for you. Doing that builds moral fiber, which is not a bad thing.

Now imagine at the end of that 30 days, you declare yourself done. You’ve learned the skill as far as you need to learn it. You’ve graduated.

What’s next?

Next month, pick another skill and go learn as much of that as you can in 30 days.

And do it again the next month, and the next, and the next.

A year from now, you could be absolutely amazing. You could be pretty darn good in a whole raft of new skills.

Skills your boss might appreciate enough to put some extra money in your paycheck, if you have a boss. (Or if your boss doesn’t appreciate your new skills, maybe some other boss elsewhere might. It can happen.)

Skills that might pull in more money faster and easier, if you work for yourself.

What do you say?

Call this plan the “Skill of the Month Club”.

There aren’t any dues. There isn’t any place to sign up. It’s just you and your own mental toughness against that nagging voice in the back of your head that says this is hard. Yes, it might be hard. Therefore, it’s worth doing.

Are you in?

If so, then go to it.

A year from now, send me an email to tell me how amazing you’ve become.

Fellow Bloggers Wrote about learning a new skill:

Kate on The Small Things Blog ~ Learning how to manage time and productivity with Skillshare

Nathan Wood at Nathan Wood Consulting ~ The Four Stages of Learning Model

Something to read about learning a new skill:

(affiliate links with Wordery)

How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours: The Skills You Need to Work Smarter, Study Faster, and Remember More! by by Tansel Ali

Shortcuts and brain hacks for learning new skills fast!

Three-time Australian Memory Champion Tansel Ali reveals the secret to learning new skills fast–easy-to-learn memory strategies, including mind mapping, visualization techniques, and mnemonic devices.

If you’d like to study for exams efficiently, speak a foreign language, memorize a speech, learn to play a new musical instrument, or improve your general knowledge, memory-training expert Tansel shows you how to do it quickly and effectively with the aid of a few memory tricks.

Packed with practical exercises for honing memory and training your brain to learn well and learn fast, this is the ultimate book for sharpening your mind and expand your knowledge.

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