Thursday, August 3, 2017

How To Learn Anything?

This is, I believe, the best strategy to learn things.  It doesn't really matter what the thing is.  Depending on what you are learning, how long each step can vary, from a few minutes to several years.  But, these are the steps, and the order to do them in:

  1. Choose what you want to learn.  Name it as specifically as you can.  
  2. Explain, in complete written sentences, why you want to learn it.  Be sure to answer the following questions:
    1. What problem are you solving?  
    2. What itch are you scratching?
    3. Who are you learning it for?
    4. What do you hope the new knowledge will get you?
    5. What do you hope the new knowledge will allow you to change in the world?
    6. What, in yourself, do you think that learning the thing will improve?
  3. Cross out whatever you wrote in step one. Answer the following question:
    1. What is the optimal thing to learn to get what you said you wanted in step two?  Maybe it's what you said in line one, but maybe not.  Consider other options.  It's ok to have many answers.  You are likely, in fact, to have several answers.
  4. If you now have a list of things to learn, the next step is to prioritize them.  Answer the following questions, in complete written sentences that explain why.  
    1. Which are you the worst at?  
    2. For which will a small improvement produce the biggest results?
    3. Which of these are necessary prerequisites for others?
      1. Are you sure it's necessary?  Why?
    4. Which one(s) would make learning the others easier?
    5. Which is the easiest to learn?
  5. Think honestly about yourself.  Answer the following questions:
    1. How bad do I want to learn this stuff?
    2. How much effort am I willing to put in?
    3. How long can I sustain motivation without gratifying results?
  6. Examine your answers to 5 and 6, and choose one to begin with.  For most people, I recommend the one that provides the biggest, fastest payoff with the least amount of effort/time.
  7. So, now....What do you want to learn (first)?  DO NOT answer the question: "What form is the thing I want to learn?" Be as specific and clear as you can.  Not:  "I want to learn to play the guitar." but "I want to learn a socially acceptable (for a middle aged white man) medium to express emotions/ideas that I'm afraid/incapable/forbidden to just say."  or whatever.  you do you.  (note: I am obviously not a middle aged white man who wants to learn to play the guitar, so I'm probably wrong about the motivation for doing such a thing.  Also, as a general rule, I would, were it me, advise against giving a shit about what's socially acceptable)
  8. Now....what real-world form does that thing take?  If you're not sure, then analyze what you wrote....we're looking for an expressive medium.  What's another word for "a medium to express an emotion/idea"....aha!  that's an "art".  So, now I need to find an art that meets the other criteria....What arts are socially acceptable for middle aged white men? I want to learn drums, guitar, or how to detail motorcycles?
  9. So, now you have a clear idea of what you want to learn:  "I want to learn how to express emotions and ideas with a guitar."
  10. Choose a specific person who is good at that.
  11. How did they learn to do that?  If you don't know, do some research (the easiest way to research is to ask them, if that's an option)
  12. What is preventing me from learning it the way they did?  If nothing, then you now have a plan.  Do that thing.  But, probably, there's a whole list of obstacles.  List them, as specifically as you can.
  13. Examine your list.  Are there any that have no solution at all?  Any that are genuinely impossible?  (there might be...example:  He learned from his father, who put a guitar in his hands when he was 3 years old.  I cannot time travel.  and, anyhow, my dad can't play guitar) . If there are insurmountable obstacles, go back to step 10, and pick a different person.  Continue until you find a method that has only very difficult, but not impossible obstacles.
  14. For each obstacle, ask yourself "What would I have to learn to overcome this?"  If necessary, use the method you learned in steps 1-9 to answer that question. Once you have done that for every obstacle....
  15. Ask yourself:  is it worth it to me to overcome this obstacle?  
    1. If the answer is NO for even a single of the obstacles, then go back to step 10, 6, or 1 and make a different choice.
    2. If the answer is YES for EVERY obstacle on the list, then....
  16. Choose which obstacle to begin with.  If necessary, use the method you learned from doing steps 4-6.
  17. Begin doing the strategy you learned in step 11.  As you encounter each obstacle, repeat step 14 (because you've "leveled up" at least some since you did that, so you might have a better answer now).  Now, do that thing!
Repeat until you know the thing.

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