Learning for me was such an awful practice. I felt I was dying every time I was given a task at school or homework to do. To give you this upfront: I hated school. I always tried to cheat on the tests. And skipped doing my homework two-thirds of the time. And when I decided to do it, I asked someone else to do it for me. Probably that sounds familiar to you.
Learning a new skill is a great way to enhance your life experience as it brings many benefits. So if you’ve just finished your graduation and want to take a new job, or your life has come to a point where you wonder “what else?”, maybe this quick list of ideas will help you break the ice and gain some traction.
Whether you have an interest in philosophy, music, or are about to set out on a worldwide journey and want to learn all the country flags in the world, this can all be done in very little time as long as you are committed. Learning keeps your mind fresh, that’s all.
The skills you are about to see require no more than a week to learn. Maybe some of them are new to you, others not. Maybe you will find some to be more interesting to you, others, not as much.
Anyway, I tried to put together only those that you could learn relatively fast, only by devoting a couple of hours (or less) a day doing them.
Below you can find twenty-three of them, and at the end of the article, I’ve included a few techniques to help you tackle them more easily.
Once you’ve set the pace, though, remember that you have to keep the fire burning. So here goes the list:
1. Learn how to meditate
Meditation is, without a doubt, a great way to induce calmness and improve your peace of mind and life. I’ve recently read an article that meditation can be actually opening a gate for malicious, evil forces, that can enter your body and you become possessed by, you know, these spirits, that can lift you off the ground and you might as well start to levitate. Don’t know how true that is, but there is only one way to find out, I think. Besides that, levitation is cool, isn’t it?
2. Writing effective short-stories
It’s a shame to say that I got four books for professional writers when I barely have read a small, tiny fraction of them. Look, probably it’s well known to you that learning how to write effectively is invariably important for communicating in the twenty-first century. Besides that, humans are naturally drawn to stories. No one wants you to be the next Stephen King or Shakespear. Start small and take it from there.
3. Smile and make eye contact in conversations
A year and a half ago, I ended up on the street, alone and with no money for food. Fortunately, very soon after, they called me for a job as a door to door salesman, not the best opportunity, but it’s a savior. One of the first things they taught us there was to smile and make eye contact when having a conversation because they help you build trust and confidence. Besides that, the smile is positively contagious and never outdated, and the eyes are the mirrors to the soul.
4. How to say “no”
Ever since I felt the power this little two-letter word carries with itself, I began to use it very often wherever and whenever I consider for appropriate (I might sometimes overdo it.) Having people-pleasing tendencies often leads to creating more stress and is a sign of debility. Learning how to say no can have a significant impact on your life because it helps you to persevere your most valuable resources for what’s really important and immediate.
5. Getting interested in other people
There is only one thing I can say here, and it is: You can make more friends in two months by getting interested in them than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. By the way, I don’t mean to be a creeper, just connect with another person in a meaningful way.
6. Speaking slowly
I am the first one to admit I used to have serious problems with it. My chatterbox-like mouth used to spit the words like a machine gun. To my own surprise, I couldn’t kill anyone, but it can be really frustrating for the listener. So learning to speak slowly is very important because it gives you time to think through what you want to say, which is a great way to develop a general sense of speaking accurately, and articulate yourself well in a more concise way.
7. Touch Typing
It’s the twenty-first century, technology is everywhere. Every contemporary human has to know how to use the computer, even at a basic level. Typing faster is a great skill you can develop with a little bit of conscious effort that, in the end, will pay off. Even if you are not planning to work an office job, typing faster can and will definitely save you a lot of time and maybe even health, because it will require you to sit less in front of the computer.
Here you can find some free lessons: Sense-lag
I know, I know, there’s this buzz around mindfulness that it’s almost become annoying to hear about it. In case you don’t know what mindfulness is, it’s a form of in-the-moment meditation. When you are being mindful, you are being present, “the time stops and you start noticing things without judgment or criticism,” says Jan Chozen-Bays. This skill helps a lot in intense and emotional situations, where you can’t see the bigger picture.
9. Speed Read
Reading is a powerful way of gaining access to all the world’s wisdom. I wasn’t much of a reader until one year ago when I started reading more and more. Now I read book a week without much of an effort. You could learn how to read a book a week very easily as long as you commit yourself. Get a book and set a goal to read one page for the day. Then, later on in the day, read another page. You don’t even necessarily have to read the whole book but finding one golden nugget can be enough. Make it a habit of showing up every day. It’s okay if it feels tough, especially, if you’ve never read before. However, pick a book and keep the schedule for a week, then keep maintaining every day. That’s how you build the habit. Before you know it, you will be reading like a nerd.
10. Personal Finance
Does money pass through your hands like water without you even noticing? Then it’s time to learn how to do some basic finance and budgeting, my friend. When you are a teenage boy, until mid-twenties, it’s very tempting to be extravagant, I know. But if you want to improve your financial life, you can’t be profligate in your spending. Carelessly and foolishly wasting your money is a sign of irresponsibility. So, unless, you want to get another heart attack, learn how to budget, save, and invest your money wisely.
11. Play a musical instrument
It does not necessarily have to be something grandiose. You can learn the basics first. For example, if you want to learn how to play piano, start making sense of the basic music notation or how the black and white keys on the piano are organized. Start taking piano classes, and get someone to teach you. Choose another instrument if you like, harmonica (a.k.a French harp or mouth organ) or clarinet etc.
Here you can find more on the topic that was written by me: Why Your Talent is Overrated It goes into more depth about how we can use the ability of our mind to reorganize itself for learning.
You’ve heard of it. It’s the funny sound that comes out of your mouth and sounds like the instrumental of a song. Beatbox can be quite engaging for the listener. It takes as much as a couple of hours to learn the basic patterns of it. There are tons of video tutorials that can teach you how to do it in a matter of minutes. So why not try it. By the way, the guy on the picture has won first place in the beatbox world championship for 2012 and is from my country, Bulgaria. Skiller is his name, you can search him.
13. Solving a Rubik’s cube
It took Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik’s Cube, one month to learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Back in the 80’s, many people have tried to think of ways how to do it but made little to no progress. Fortunately, we don’t live in the 80’s anymore, and now there’s information about how you can learn to solve your Rubik’s Cube in less than a couple of minutes. If you don’t have one, go to Amazon (U.S. Link) or Ebay (U.K. Link) and buy it from there.
14. Give a compliment
You know, I always tell people that complimenting is good for the health of the one who gives it and the one who receives it. Some of them tell me, “good excuse,” and I don’t know why they are mostly chicks. But look, compliment someone only if you really mean it, not for the sake of complimenting or manipulating. That’s called hypocrisy. But I know you won’t do that because you are sweet.
15. Tie a necktie
If you are like me, you probably wait before the event, when the pressure’s already on. I didn’t know how to tie one until last year. It can be quite embarrassing for a man to let his father tie his necktie at his prom, although it can also be a very bonding father-son ritual. If that’s you, set aside some time and learn it. It’s pretty easy, to be honest. There are a lot of Youtube video tutorials showing you how to do it. When I think about it, I might need to refresh my memory as well. *Ops
16. Cook an amazing dish
Who doesn’t want to know how to cook, especially, something mind-blowing? We all want, but not all of us are willing to learn. If you’ve never tried how to cook anything different than eggs, rice or potatoes, maybe it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and stir up some amazing shit for you or your family. Or maybe you are already doing fine, and you would like to up your game. Then, find a dish that looks good to you and follow everything to the T. Then repeat.
17. Learn the basics of martial arts
Learning the basics of some type of kung-fu, jujitsu, or karate, can definitely boost your sense of well-being, confidence and overall health. No need to live with the understanding that you have to necessarily become a pro at it in order to practice such an art. If there is a local community where you live, start with them. In case you want to self-educate yourself, there are plenty of videos and tutorials online. Nevertheless, I think you would definitely benefit more if you get someone to teach you the niceties properly.
18. Loop counting to 100 and back to 0
Easy, start from 0 as you count by 7 up until 100. Then repeat the same backward, and then up to a hundred again.
I will do the first step with you: 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84, 91, 98
Now it’s your turn. Start from 100 to 0. Harder, eh?
19. Speaking the basic of a new language
How many times did you wish you knew certain cool phrases you could use on your next trip to a foreign country? Me, a lot. A year and a half ago I spent a couple of weeks in Ibiza, Spain, having fun with cool women and partying the rest of the time, which was, technically, having fun with cool women. There, I learned short simple sentences for asking about where I could find something in the shop, or how to say hello, goodbye, and how are you.
So if I am very hungry I would say, ‘Me pica el bagre.’ which literally means, ‘the catfish is biting me’, but of course it illustrates the feeling of when you are starving. What this phrase means is, ‘I am very hungry.’ For you, it may be German, or French, or Chinese, whatever, pick one and learn something new as it opens your mind.
20. Recognizing “happy attacks”
The moment when you stand next to your mate, or spouse, having a conversation and all of a sudden there is this uncontrollable emotional outburst making you want to crack up to one of his silly jokes; or you feel so connected to your partner and there is this smile appearing on your face only by the thought of him and your heart starts pounding even harder, pumping so much blood to every organ in your body, and gets you so turned on and hyperactive that you want to jump out of your skin, all laughing, and loving. That’s a happy attack. Recognize it, and tell yourself, “I am having a happy attack.” A lot of people miss that part, and after a minute, they’ve shifted back to their default setting. But by learning how to recognize happy attacks, makes your experiences so much more memorable and worthwhile.
21. Breaking an apple with your bare hands
“B-b-b but why would I want to break an apple with my hands?” Come on, how do you think our grand, grand, grand ancestors had been doing it? It might seem like a hard thing but it’s not. Imagine for a second that you are in the stone age. All you have to do is grab an apple, place your fingertips underneath with the fleshy part, it’s like the little hole on the top where the stem is. Of course, you have to remove the stem first, don’t act like a total caveman, and then pull up with your fingers and roll your hands out. Done.
Last year I was really determined to learn this skill because of a book on neuroscience I read. Basically, it said, that your brain can adapt easily to a new skill if you practice and they’d had given an example with groups of jugglers. So I decided to try it. After a couple of hours of trying, I managed to juggle with two lemons, once. I didn’t have juggling balls nor I have ever tried that before. So if you don’t have any, either, improvize. Take lemons or anything similar and handy and go for it.
23. Playing pool
When I was in my first year of university, there was a common room with a pool table inside. That ate off a lot of my and my friends’ time. We had to prepare for exams, but guess where were we spending our time? In the common room playing pool at 2 am. (What we were doing at 2 am in the university accommodation is another story for another time.) I was very bad at pool, but once you learn it, It can become a very addictive game. Learn it, it’s cool to play pool.
Tips for learning
- Of course, pick an easily digestible skill – If you want to learn a new skill within a week time, you have to know that some skills take more time than a week to learn. So, pick one that is easy for you to learn. I just gave you 23 suggestions. They all pass this requirement.
- Tackle them in smaller bits – By dividing the learning process into three to four smaller chunks, learning a new skill becomes so much easier.
- Prioritize those that are most meaningful – You might not have liked all of the skills on the list, or have already spotted the one that is dearest to your heart. That’s great. Start with it, and the rest will come naturally.
- Get someone to teach you or teach yourself – If you are reading this, then you are lucky as all the information in the world is at your fingertips. You have access to literally everything online. Pick a skill and do a research on it for the most relevant tutorials and teachings. If you have a friend or know someone locally who can show you or teach you the skill, go get them to teach you.
- Practice the skill – Last but not least, nothing happens without practice. So make sure you put your mind and heart into it during the process.
That was a long-ass one, so congratulations for making it until the end. Now, next time, instead of watching TV or wondering how to kill some time, maybe you should ask yourself “what new skills to learn.” Excuse me, now I have to go play pool with some strangers I met in the lobby of the hotel I am staying in.