Lack of confidence in our skills and knowledge can discourage us from pursuing our goals. Moving forward requires learning new skills and developing our strengths and talents. Fortunately there's no shortage of tools and resources to help us learn the things we need to know. [Note: Scroll down to see info about a couple of free live online events I'd love to meet you at!]
Grow and Learn as You Build the Life You Want
In episode 70, we started thinking about a plan for the new year. In episode 71, we looked at the process of living our authentic life, making sure to acknowledge the big picture and pursuing goals that push us toward living the life we want. In this episode, let’s look at how to get the skills needed to achieve our goals.
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What kind of skills might we need to move forward toward our goals?
Depending on the kind of life or goals you hope to achieve, you may need to increase your knowledge in any of the following areas:
There’s no limit to the skills we need to learn to move in the direction we want for our lives. Even learning is a skill that can be learned. Always stay curious and be ready to learn. Harvard Business Review featured a recent article called Four Ways to Become a Better Learner to help you with this.
Where can you find the knowledge and skills you need?
There are so many different methods to learn what we need to know, especially in this day and age where we have an abundance of resources.
Start with knowing yourself well enough to decide which option is best for you. How do you learn best? Reading? Listening? Video? Working one-on-one?
Think about your stage in life when considering your options for learning. If you have small children, you might not be able to move across the country to go to school, but you may have better luck with video courses, for example.
If there’s something you want to know, someone has written a book on it. If you don’t like to sit down and read, you can get audiobooks to listen to while driving, much like a podcast. You can get books and audiobooks through.
- Audible (I listened to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, as well as Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs through Audible, and both were great.)
- Public library
Whatever topic you’re interested in probably has a periodical or two about it for bite-sized information on a topic you’d like to learn about. Check out the magazine section at Barnes & Noble or any other big bookstore.
3. Blogs or websites
There’s a blog about anything you want to learn. Search online for the topic you’re interested in, find a blog you like, and follow that blog for an ongoing education. Here are a couple I really like for general knowledge:
- Brain Pickings — A website that curates interesting posts and articles. Subscribe to their newsletter to receive excerpts from articles that stretch your mind and thinking.
- Ted Talks — A website with a video collection of talks about the world, all under 18 minutes, by thought leaders on a variety of subjects. Talks are available on the website or on their app. (iOS device/Android/Amazon)
For more ideas, Inc.com published a helpful article called 30 Websites That Will Make You Unbelievably Smarter.
There are podcasts on everything from building a business to losing weight to relationships to meditation or anything else you might want to learn about. The best thing? Podcasts can be downloaded to your mobile device and listened to anywhere. Look in iTunes or Stitcher or your podcast aggregator of choice. If there’s a topic that interests you, there’s a podcast about it.
One of my recent favorites is The Life Coach School Podcast, hosted by Brooke Castillo — A podcast on self-coaching and how to train our minds to serve us better
Note: If you find one you like, jump into iTunes and leave a review to help others find them, but even more to show the host you appreciate it.
5. Webinars and other online learning opportunities
These are generally one-off online sessions, either live or recorded, in which you listen to and/or watch a speaker teach a skill or share knowledge about a particular topic. Many allow you to submit questions ahead of time or during the show.
Webinars are often presented as a marketing tool, giving you a taste of skills or knowledge the presenter offers in hopes you'll sign up for more, but you don't have to buy to get something of value out of free webinars.
Platforms like Blab can offer real-time interaction. Features include a live chat where viewers can ask questions that hosts can answer live. You can search Blab by topics and find whatever you'd like to learn about. (Note: Be careful, because anyone can jump on Blab and talk about any topic, so use discretion. But there are many reputable experts presenting valuable information on Blab.)
6. Online tutorials and videos
These are great if you’re a visual learner, and they can offer features such as screen sharing to help better guide you. Some examples of tutorials can be found at:
- YouTube — I used it recently to search for information on a piece of software I needed instruction on, but you can find countless tutorials to watch free just by searching YouTube.
- Lynda.com — Lynda.com offers excellent quality videos on a variety of subjects taught by professionals.
- Screencasts Online — This is a subscription service, which can be paid for monthly, quarterly or annually. This site helps people learn to use their Mac or iOS devices and the apps for it.
- Dotto Tech — Steve Dotto presents a variety of videos and tutorials on technology. Some are free, some are paid, and these are not just Apple- and Mac-based. He also has a YouTube channel.
- Udemy — Udemy offers paid online courses taught by experts, like business, personal development, music, and languages. Udemy offers a pay-per-course structure, as opposed to Lynda.com, which features a monthly or annual subscription fee to access as many courses as you’d like.
7. Membership websites and online communities
Joining a membership website entails paying a subscription fee to get access to information, tutorials, and a forum to ask one another questions. A wide variety of these sites exist. A couple I've found really helpful are:
- Michael Hyatt’s Platform University focuses on leadership and building a platform for your message. It gives extra access to experts who provide constantly updated information and helps you connect with others who share my goals.
- Fiction writers can learn tons through best-selling author Susan May Warren's My Book Therapy site, which offers a variety of resources, including monthly webinars about writing-related topics.
8. Coaching and mentorship
Coaching can either be done one-on-one or in a group. This is more interactive and you can get direct advice from an expert. As an added bonus, having someone specifically dedicate time to you can help with accountability. A couple of sources for coaching that I recommend:
- If you’d like to improve your productivity skills, Mike Vardy offers a coaching program through his Productivityist site.
- For general life coaching or help conquering weight, you can check out Brooke Castillo’s coaching site or try Coach.me, a website and app to connect you with a coach.
As for mentoring, simply find someone who's good at what you want to do and ask them to teach you. For example, if you want to improve your leadership skills or a specific skill needed for your job, find a mentor at your office and ask her out to lunch so you can pick her brain.
These are great for immersive learning and networking. Conferences can involve going to sessions all day and networking in between and on breaks. If you’re in a stage of life to do this, it’s a great focused time to learn from teachers and speakers as well as to meet other like-minded people. Whatever your topic, search for conferences about it and see what you find.
10. On-site/formal learning
Search for a community college or trade school to attend in your area or online. The Simple Dollar published an article titled Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College, which talks about the benefits of attending something more specific to your needs, rather than attending a four-year school.
11. College or university
You can enroll as full-time or part-time student at college, or you can consider taking extension courses specific to your needs. You don’t have to be 18 years old when you start college. I went back to college in my 30s to get my bachelor’s degree, then started law school when I was 35 and had 5 kids. It’s never too late to consider a college education.
If you don't want to go on campus and don't need a degree, there are a number of services that give you access to college courses from top professors from around the world. A couple of examples:
- iTunes U — Courses are offered in every academic subject, and schools participating include Yale, Harvard and Oxford.
- edX — A collaborative project of Harvard and MIT that provides free online classes from top universities. These are full-semester courses and all you have to do is sign up.
‘I don’t know how’ never needs to be an excuse for not pursuing our goals. . . . There’s always a way to learn the things we need to know.”
What do you think?
What skills or abilities do you want to need to develop this year? Are there resources for learning not mentioned that you recommend? Please feel free to ask your questions or share your thoughts by commenting below or on the Facebook page or emailing me.
- Want a chance to talk with me and get your productivity questions answered live from the comfort of your own home or office? On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, at 7 p.m. Central, I’ll be celebrating Fan Appreciation Day by hosting a live Q&A on Blab.
- Round two of the International Productivity Panel. Priscille Livenais of ProductivYou (France), Julie Sheranosher of Time Hackers (Israel), and I will reunite for another discussion about our best recommendations for getting the new year off to the best possible start and keeping the momentum going. Join us on Sunday, January 17, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. Central.
You can also follow me on Blab to get notifications for when I host or participate in Blabs in the future.Click here to discover my favorite apps!
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