Learn Anything: Don’t Wait. Educate. 
Life is a learning experience. So learn, learn and learn.
Albert Einstein once famously said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. ” At University, I had engineering friends who were interested in genetics, business grads who spent every spare minute reading about technology, and journalism majors who regularly tinkered with electronics. Study, learning, education — they are all interrelated —are not absolute confined to strict silos.
In India, what we learn is tied in rigidly to the field of study we’ve selected. If you are a Mechanical Engineer it is highly unlikely that you will get to take a course on English literature as an elective and even earn credit for it. This series of articles [‘Learn Anything’] tries to go a step further and endeavours to show you first-hand what to learn and more importantly how to learn. Your journey begins with identifying what you are most suited to learn, that is finding out where your aptitude lies. Once we have identified this important aspect, we get on the conventional methods that you can use to begin your learning journey.
After a bit of research into the various theories of learning and human behaviour, I found that often people are constrained by the amount of time they can devote to learning a new skill or topic. For this very reason, I have an article devoted to learning based on the time frame. Do you have 10 minutes? Perfect. Learn how to become a Google Guru. Do you have a lazy weekend? That’s how much time you need to learn CPR. A month? Maybe you can tackle the basics of a new language. I'll show you how.
Next, I have a bit of motivation planned for you. It is said that learning becomes easier and more fun if you are a part of a group of like-minded learners. My article on finding and creating groups will add the much-needed “social” angle to your learning journey.
To wrap up this article series I have some special skills that we do a detailed deep dive into. The methodology that we have applied to learn how to code or calligraphy can be applied to learning anything. However, these two skills have been highlighted in the hopes of forming a template. Last but not least I will put all your newly acquired knowledge and skills to the test and help you actually get paid for it. What more could you want? So let's start LEARNING.
Don’t Wait. Educate.
It’s a good time to be a student. With the internet being the massive giant of information that it is today and the growing appeal of distance learning, the options are nearly infinite. If you’re a 90s Kid, you would have seen the horizon of education expanding in front of your eyes. If you’re a 90s parent, you would have to stop and take a step back to realize the fundamental career and lifestyle options that you had back in your days were no longer the limitations that your child was held to. There is much more out there to do. A big adjustment for both parents and children, to be honest.
What kind of skills do you need to develop?
There’s no one answer to that question. You and you alone know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Play to your strengths, and aim at negating your weaknesses. Go with what interests you, inherently. Keep in mind that school is where you were brute-forced your basic education. Move beyond that and remember that life is a learning experience. The global scenario is ever changing like the universe — ever expanding, to cover new avenues of education. If at any age you think you’re “way past your prime”, well one is never too old to stop learning new things. It is always a good time to step back and look at the road not taken and consider taking it.
Step One: Look into thyself
The first step would be to take some time to think about what you enjoy doing. The only task wort giving your heart and soul into is the kind of job that owns your heart and soul. So, figuring out what gets to you is the first step towards figuring out what you need to learn. There is a fundamental flaw in society that takes away the willingness to learn new things. Well, the old argument of “what's the point of learning something that won’t be a part of your career?” has been nullified. Want to learn cooking? There is always a scope to be a chef. Always enjoyed trying out new delicacies, or reading that new best-seller, for even watching that blockbuster that was released last week? Well, critics are in no short supply, but with hundreds of opinions out there, I am sure you can find your fan following somewhere. At the end of the day, if nothing else work, you can follow the start-up culture. Start your own little project, work for yourself, independent of any professional name, brand, or firm. Be your own person.
Step Two: Aptitude
The second step would be trying to figure out in what skills your aptitude falls. There are several organizations, both online and offline that do aptitude tests and performance tests professionally. Approach them and think about what the professionals think you’d be good at. But remember, any advice is a good advice when taken in moderation. Don’t ignore it completely, don’t wear it on your sleeve, either. Ultimately learning anything new is about you, more than what other people think is good for you. When looking for places to check your aptitude, try avoiding online tests and surveys. Most of these are scams, or unreliable, at best. However, there are several companies out there who do a great job at assessing your inherent potential. They have a full-time in-house team of professionals, including several psychiatrists to read into your test results and come up with valid projections about your potential skill set or attitude towards the desired skill set.
Step Three: Research
Step three comes into play when you are learning a new skill for a career path. This is when you put your years of training hounding Google to good use. Start researching and taking a good look at what kind of skills are needed for what kind of jobs. In today’s time, almost all kinds of work requires some or the other skill set. However, it is important to hone said skills in a disciplined learning environment. This is where the personal research comes in. Look around for sources to expand your skills and dust the cobwebs off your inhabitation. Remember to cross-examine what you find with the results of your aptitude test, just to see what lies in front of you. If you’re having a hard time figuring out where to start, read this article series for good starting pointers on where you should let your learning begins.
A lot of skills are sometimes taken for granted. What people don’t realize is that today multi-skilled personnel are in huge demand. No one wants to pay five employees when one can do all their jobs without breaking a sweat. Why hire a team of PR personnel when that one guy can handle all your clients seamlessly? Why hire a proofreader when your writers can proofread each other’s work? Why do you need a director and a writer on a movie when the writer can handle the director's jobs too?
The current job profile being sought after in every field is the proverbial jack of all trades. But even if you manage to perfect two or three good malleable roles at the workplace (without burning yourself out), you’re that much closer to being unexpendable. Even things like being good at Calligraphy or Gaming can lead to several career options in your near future. Don’t dismiss any kind of skill you have, however mundane or frivolous it may seem. The chances are — if you’ve got it, someone wants it. And the deeper your pocket of honed skills are, the more people need you.
If all else fails….
There is always that ever-looming sword of Damocles that is “what if?” Does this lead to nowhere? What if I am not as good as I think I am? What if Mom-Dad and Friends were just saying I am awesome to keep my spirit high?
Well, what’s life without a little risk?
Take a chance, and you may even surprise yourself. At the very least, you will have some fun. When’s the last time they taught you how to do that? 3rd grade?
And yet, in the face of reality, be smart enough to have some kind of fall-back option. The safety net. That old MBA or Engineering degree. Never leave home without a fall-back. But don’t forget to never stop learning. Keep your heart, mind, and soul at constant work. So read the next article and get started.