5 Ways to Strengthen Your Skills In The New Year

The start of a New Year is a time for new beginnings, new hope and new commitments. As start of a New Year is when we usually set new goals, one area that is worth focusing on is skill development.

The better our skills are in our professional or personal life, the better we will perform. Developing our skills also helps boost our confidence, which in turn helps us in our ability to communicate with others and get things done.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best way to approach skill development is to first make a list of skills that you’d like to strengthen. It could be improving your memory, or being able to read faster, or becoming a better communicator. What you list down has to be relevant and important to you. Once you have your list, decide on the one skill that you’d like to focus on first. It doesn’t mean that you forget about the rest. Instead, you start off by focusing on the skill that will bring you the biggest advantage if you were to improve that skill.

For that skill you have identified, here are five specific things you can do to strengthen that skill. In only a few short months or even weeks, you will experience a remarkable improvement in your skill once you apply these five things.

  1. Read five books. Identify the top five books on the subject related to that skill. If you’re unsure, you can do some research online or ask others who may be able to assist. This is an easy first step. One thing to remember is to schedule time in your calendar for reading. 30 minutes per day is a good starting point.
  2. Invest in three DVD/CD programs. Multi-media programs typically go much deeper than what books do especially as you’ll be able to either watch or listen to the expert teaching. Similarly, like reading, ask for recommendations from others on what programs to invest in. Again, 30 minutes per day is a good amount of time for learning from these programs.
  3. Attend one seminar or workshop. There isn’t a more powerful way to learn something than experiential learning. Being around others who also want to learn will accelerate your learning plus you may also make new friends who can continue supporting you after the seminar or workshop.
  4. Interview five experts. Being able to learn directly from others who are regarded for their skill or expertise in the area you want to improve is an extremely powerful way to speed up the learning journey. This is how you can condense decades of experience into days, if not hours. Start off by identifying who you’d like to interview and before reaching out and asking for their help, add value to them first. For example, if they offer content on their website, start leaving comments about what you like about what they have shared. You can also offer to promote their work to your network if you think that it will be of value to your network. Give first then ask for their assistance.
  5. Teach others what you’ve learned. The best way to truly integrate something you have learned is to teach it to others. This is because teaching will require you to fine tuning your ideas, arrange them into frameworks that support learning, plus it will force you to think of ways to better explain your ideas to others. It has been said that we usually teach what we need to learn most.

Just 30 minutes per day reading and 30 minutes per day watching or listening to a DVD/CD program will skyrocket your chosen skill. The question now becomes: How do I find time to do all this? Surprisingly, it is not that difficult to find additional time, which I outlined in a previous post.

Once you start seeing improvements in your chosen skill, you can repeat the process for the next most important skill you have identified. Continue this process and in due course, when you look at how far you have progressed, you will need a telescope to look back to where you were.

If you’re serious about improving your skills in any area, then these steps will support you in getting to the skill level you want to. Apply this process next time you want to strengthen one of your skills.

Question: What is something you have done to strengthen or improve a skill?

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  • Jane Ransom

    I really appreciate the full focus on one skill at a time. As we all have so many areas we’d like to improve on, I’d love to learn from you in a future post about the best way to choose which skill first–and maybe some examples to think about. This is great stuff, Neel, thanks!

    • Neel Raman

      Thanks Jane! And I love your suggestion as well for a future post. I will certainly come up with something around how to choose which skill to focus on first. Awesome!! Thanks again for your comments!