Put an average Joe next to someone of success and you’ll find that the latter had more knowledge to get to where they are today.
While there’s only so much time in the day to learn new skills, you can accelerate how fast you learn something. Whether you want to learn a new language, understand real estate, or learn how to start a business, the person who can learn faster will always have the upper hand in life.
Here are 5 powerful steps to learn anything faster.
1. Method beats hours
When it comes to learning something new, the method will always beat the number of hours you put into something. This isn’t to say that the number of hours isn’t important, but you should choose which method will give you the best results.
For example, let’s say two people were driving from Boston to New York City. It doesn’t matter how skilled or committed the first driver is. If he’s driving a beat-up pickup truck and the second driver has a Ferrari, the first driver will lose.
Your method is the vehicle that will become the engine of where you want to go. With anything you want to learn, there will be dozens of available methods to follow, and “experts” to learn from. This means that you want to spend a lot of time understanding who you’re learning from, what credibility they have, and how it fits with your learning style.
2. Apply the 80/20 rule
As a reader of Lifehack, you’ve probably heard of Pareto’s Law.
It is a concept developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto which explains that 80% of your desired outputs will come from only 20% of your inputs.
While the exact ratio varies from situation to situation, you’ll find that:
- 20% of people in your life will lead to 80% of your happiness
- 20% of your customers will drive 80% of your sales
- 20% of your learning methods will lead to 80% of your results
When it comes to learning, it feels like there’s so much we don’t know, so it’s easy to jump around everywhere. This will only lead to wasted time. What you want to do is focus on the one or two things that will drive the needle for what you want to achieve and double down on them.
For example, if you’re learning Spanish to travel this summer, instead of learning how to write or read, you should learn how to speak Spanish. Or instead of trying to please a dissatisfied customer that’s only paying you $37/month, you should add 10 times more value to a customer that’s paying you $1,000/month.
3. Learn by doing
Immersion is by far the best way to learn anything. And as research shows, it turns out that humans retain:
- 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
- 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
- 20% of what they learn from audio-visual.
- 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
- 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
- 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
- 90% of what they learn when they use it immediately.
Think back to how you learned to play basketball, ride a bicycle, or swim. Instead of watching tutorial videos or reading a textbook on how to do something, the way to learn faster is to get into the trenches and gain experience through making mistakes.
4. Find a coach
From business titans to professional athletes, the people performing at the highest levels all have one thing in common: they have a coach.
According to best-selling author Seth Godin, there are five reasons you might quit in anything you do:
- You run out of time (and quit)
- You run out of money (and quit)
- You get scared (and quit)
- You’re not serious about it (and quit)
- You lose interest (and quit)
Having a coach allows you to see the blind spots that you couldn’t see before, and guide you through the tough times that inevitably come when you’re learning anything new.
A coach doesn’t have to cost $1 million a year, like what Tony Robbins charges, or even $1,000. If you’re trying to learn a language, you could have a language coach you work with. If you’re trying to learn an instrument, it could be finding a private teacher to help you.
The point is, you’re not going at it alone. And having someone that’s keeping you accountable can take you miles further than doing everything yourself.
5. Process over performance
Doing the work is often the hardest thing for most people. A common mistake people make when they’re learning something new is to focus on performance over process. It’s hard to see any consistent results until you’ve put in a significant amount of work upfront.
For writers, this is sitting down and writing 500 words a day — no matter how bad it may turn out. For athletes, this is waking up every morning and training — no matter how groggy and sore you feel. For language learners, it’s forcing yourself to speak the language every day — no matter how many mistakes you make or how uncomfortable you may feel.
“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” — Woody Allen
Taking small steps may not sound sexy, but it has been the proven path to follow for anything you’ll want to achieve in your life and business.