How To Learn A New Skill The Right Way

Raphael Alegbeleye/Staff Writer

So you have decided to learn a new skill during this quarantine. You have given it a go perhaps for a week or months now, but there is this feeling that you do not have a road map on how to start and get to the finished goal. Here are five things to consider before embarking on that blissful adventure of learning something new. 

Understand The Territory

This is the first step, and the most important one. Your success in learning a new skill lies in this first stage. If you do not know what learning that skill requires, the amount of effort it will take to reach the point you feel satisfied with, you will give up too easily. 

During this step, it is important to highlight what it is exactly you want to learn. For example, you want to learn how to draw, questions you should ask yourself is, what sort of drawings do you want to do. If it is portrait drawing, then you should start by studying human facial anatomy. If you intend to learn mathematics, what field of math do you want to focus on? Algebra? Trigonometry? Calculus?

During this stage you should also identify your weakness and be true to yourself. If your portrait drawings look like potatoes, then know full well you have a long way to go. 


Most people gloss over this stage, yet I think it goes hand in hand with the first. The strategizing stage involves noticing your limitations and turning them into advantages in order tp to reap more efficient results. It is a stage of constant tuning as you progress. 

Say you have chosen to learn portrait drawing and have done research on what venturing into this skill might entail. Maybe after noting your weakness in the facial form, you read somewhere that breaking drawings down into shapes helps. If something is off about your drawings, you’re going to want to read up on ways to correct them. 

Copy And Replicate

To save yourself the headache and troubles that will arise while learning a new skill, it is important to shadow someone who has crossed that path. For example, in Chinese painting, in order for a student to become a master the student must start by directly copying a master’s work, studying the master’s brush strokes and techniques to create the overall picture. This serves two purposes: to instill an appreciation in the student for the craft that he or she is learning, and to identify mistakes and solutions. 

This pertains to any field. A businessman looking to sharpen his analytic skills might look up cases another businessman might have faced and study the solutions he came up with. No matter what it is you are learning, try studying from a master and replicating their work—so long as you do not claim it as your own. 

Learn To Practice And Practice Faithfully

What more can be said on this? Constant practice results in perfection. Or rather, deliberate and faithful practice does. Practice actively doing, not just passively. 

Studying a master’s painting while paying attention to the artist’s brush stroke, how light and shadow was rendered and so on—that is deliberate practice. Sitting at your desk, on a certain day at a certain time to practice a certain skill—that is faithful practice. 

What separates the athlete from the average person is deliberate and faithful practice. Talents are just stones given to you to make a dagger. If you do not know how to make one, the stone is useless. 

Create And Experiment

This is the stage where you hone your skills. You start producing your own work and ideas, solving new problems you will face—problems you might come to face with in the future. 

This stage can occur during the copy and replicate stage, and it is the most satisfying experience one can have. To see how well you were able to implement the ideas of others into your own work and see it turn out beautiful is a magical experience.

Do not push the brakes yet—learning is a long and continuous journey of constant improvement. Even masters never stop learning. You have reached your goal, and you are confident in your ability, so you have decided to raise the bar and venture into another territory. 

The cycle repeats itself.

Featured image by Tomasz Baranowski on Flickr.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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