Self-Taught Expert | Bootstrapping your Education to go from Enthusiast to Expert

Kasia Bielska Photography

We can all go from hobbyist to self-taught expert with a little bit of applied and strategic knowledge acquisition.

Many of us chock up our passions to simple hobbies or pastimes, with little intention to turn it into anything more than that. We may have a surface level of satisfaction with our guilty pleasures but perhaps a deeper longing for something more.

Our enthusiasm can easily be transformed into expertise if we invested the time and energy to bootstrap our ambitions and fortify our knowledge. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel they have the time, money and or desire to enroll in classes that would afford them the expertise they seek.

But we, fortunately, are in the midst of the technology revolution, which has supplied us with countless other opportunities and forums within which to learn a field.

Do your research

Aggregate resources(links, books, notebooks, software.) Schedule time. Make a lesson plan. Take notes. Practice. Explore options for local seminars or groups to network and learn in person.

Invest the time.

The hardest part of self-teaching is dedicating and then maintaining the time in which to carry out your lessons. If you can’t dedicate the exact same time every day, set weekly time quotas where you aim to study three hours per week.

Make a Curriculum.

Make a chronological lesson plan that accommodates the learning checkpoints that you need to achieve within your allotted time. Pull out a calendar and mark dates with individual lessons.

Respect your learning style.

The best part about being in charge of your own curriculum is that you can sculpt it to your learning style. If you are more hands-on, create an environment that lets you engage in activities. If you are more visual, make sure you that you have an environment in which you can interact with models.

Hold yourself accountable.

Self-accountability is one of the most important instruments you will have on your path to expertise. It is the primary influence over giving up or pressing forward. When you don’t have a teacher hanging tests dates or essay deadlines over your head that reflect in hardcore reward systems like your grades, it can be hard to incentivize your work.

Embrace premature confidence

Ah, the good old fake it til you make it. If someone asks what you do, don’t stumble over your watercolor hobby. You proudly proclaim you are an artist and rightfully so. Because you are.

Don’t rush yourself.

If there is a concept that is taking longer to grasp, ease your way through the dilemma. Work your way through it until you can rationally understand the concept, because chances are it will fortify the foundation for future concepts.

Attention to Detail.

You can’t get the spark notes version and expect to go forward with expert-level knowledge. Go over every detail and take notes and highlights on subjects that you need to zoom in on. Then zoom in. Explore the concepts from multiple angles and from multiple sources.


As you’re learning concepts, don’t relegate yourself to just taking notes. Make sure that you are engaging in projects, whether real or mock, that utilize the new concepts as you go.

Do the same thing over and over. Until it is second nature. Repetition is key to expertise.

Be Consistent.

Don’t let your fresh information get stale. You can’t study for 5 straight days and then cold-turkey the process for 2 months and expect to come back naturally to where you left off. You will most likely have to start from scratch because you have let your mind atrophy in its off time.

Fail your way to success.

Don’t balk at mistakes. Learn from them. Obstacles are passion’s filter. Obstacles strengthen the determined and weed out the weak(minded.) Learn from mistakes. Obstacles are passion’s filter. Strengthens the determined and gets rid of the weak(minded.)

It’s time to elevate your skill set to expert level. What have you always wanted to learn, but felt you couldn’t due to time or money constraints? Technology has given us a unique opportunity to learn without enrolling into costly schools or seminars, so utilize that tool to your advantage!

Originally published at Pursuit of Daydreams.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe here.