Avery Caton
Jul 15 · 4 min read

Mankind has been learning new skills from the time we could blink.

A new skill learned could be as simple as a baby beginning to crawl or as difficult as mastering the finer details of astrophysics.

No matter the task, the basic steps that take an individual from beginner to expert are basically the same.

Genuine Interest

The first step to learning a skill is a genuine interest in the subject matter. In the case of a baby learning to crawl, his interest is only in getting from point A to point B, whereas the astrophysicist is hoping to better himself and master a corner within his field.

In my case, I have recently developed a vested interest in bettering my meal-prep and cooking skills.

Fortunately, I grew up with a mother who is an incredible cook and have had my taste buds spoiled from the first moment I can remember. However, after moving out, I soon learned that without my mother around I would need to develop some “real world” cooking skills of my own. After a time of mourning and living off of take-out, I naturally grew the genuine interest of wanting to be a better cook.

Study and Research

After developing a real interest in something, the next step is to begin the process of learning. For all things food, I knew my mom was the perfect starting place.

When I would visit home, I made sure to study Mom’s every move during meal prep and would always leave with a folder full of her printed out recipes, a list of groceries needed, and a heart full of excitement to begin bettering myself.

Trial and Error

Honestly, I’ve ruined my fair share of homemade dinners in the past. Overcooking, undercooking, not well seasoned — you get the gist.

I consistantly added to my list of failures at the beginning of my trial and error process, but instead of feeling down on myself for not picking up every skill super quickly, I had something to prove — not just to myself, but to my husband!

Fortunately, my husband, Dan, was super supportive through my process of trial and error, even while eating terrible dinners! (He’s a keeper.)

After a couple of weeks, I began to see improvement in my cooking skills.

I went from burning quesadillas to making homemade orange chicken with 4 different pots cooking at the same time on one stovetop! That’s some major progress if you ask me!

Refine and Experiment

I was feeling more confident in my cooking skills, so becoming more detail-oriented in what I was creating was my next step in my self-improvement process. As with anything, once you learn the basics you can spend more time on the finer details!

  • Mess around with cook time — perhaps lower and slower.
  • Instead of cooking on a ceramic pan, try out a seasoned cast iron skillet.
  • Experiment with baked vs. grilled.
  • Switch out ingredients — Instead of a simple grilled cheese on Wonder Bread, try fresh-baked sourdough. Switch out your old faithful American cheese for an artisanal cheese, and maybe even try adding homegrown tomato and farm-raised local bacon… Have fun with it!
  • Another thing that’s fun to play with is the presentation of your meal. How is it going to be plated? Family style? Plate or bowl? Add a garnish?

These steps to self-improvement can apply to anything: learning an instrument, improving your writing, building an entrepreneurial skill — it’s all the same. For example, last month, I learned how to build Facebook ads. I had an initial interest in this, but I had absolutely NO idea where or how to even begin.

My study and research began on Google and YouTube. I read many articles and watched a few tutorial videos.

My trial and error process started with designing my ad. This was totally new to me.

For the experimental/refinement stage of this project, I compared two main ad design concepts, the areas my ads would be posted, and the target demographic for the ads (age range, gender, and interest group). Ultimately, these factors were dependant on the money spent to promote them, but it gave me a great window into how professionals are using promotional tools on social media today.

What Now?

What skill do you need to learn? What is your interest?

Read up on the topic; find experts to observe; watch videos; ask others.

Practice on your own to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Change things around to make the process work better.


“Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement.”

~Anthony J. D’Angelo

On Breaking the Mold

Where unconventional paths in entrepreneurship, personal development, and education meet. Learn more at discoverpraxis.com

Avery Caton

Written by

On Breaking the Mold

Where unconventional paths in entrepreneurship, personal development, and education meet. Learn more at discoverpraxis.com

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