Mastering a new skill is a challenge we all face at work but also in our personal life. It helps us move ahead in our careers and in our lives.

“It’s not enough to be smart — you need to always be getting smarter,” says Heidi Grant Halvorson, a motivational psychologist 

Joseph Weintraub, the coauthor of the book, The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business, mentioned as well:

“We need to constantly look for opportunities to stretch ourselves in ways that may not always feel comfortable at first. Continual improvement is necessary to get ahead.”

Everybody has his own style of learning, but below steps can be applied in any situation and by anybody who wants to master a new skill.

Here are the steps  to follow when attempting to master a new skill:

Ask yourself if you can acquire this skill

Acquiring a new skill is hard work. You need to be prepared, have acces to information, time to study, people to refer to in case you need help.

Let me give you my own example.

In 2018 I decided to start an internet marketing course.

Considering the influence of social media in every aspect of our professional life and the importance of marketing online in general, I thought it will be a necessary skill for my career.

To start with, I had to build my own website, with no help or support and no technical background.

Continuing, the amount of technical knowledge required was so high, that I had to keep on referring to youtube and take additional other courses to keep up.

This was time-consuming and so frustrating, that I gave up after 2 months. It was too much to have a full time job and to study this subject in the same time. 

Now, during pandemic, I decided to restart the course, although I had to take it from the beginning. Without time pressure, I was able to make progress and even put a deadline for it.

As I said, you need to make sure you have the time and resources to master a new skill.

The skill you want to master might be necessary, but without time and resources trying to learn it will only lead to frustration.

Ask yourself if you really need it

Here you need to refer back to your own priorities and the priorities of your working place.

You might find that having a certain skill is something you want, but if you can not apply for your professional or personal development, you might very well give up during the process.

Don’t get me wrong, acquiring skills is useful, but acquiring the RIGHT ones, the ones that help us move ahead is really important.

Ask yourself how you learn best?

Are you a reader or a listener, do you need somebody to make a presentation, or you can simply read a material?

Also, do you need to practice it in front of others to learn ?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself.

To be able to figure out your ideal learning style you need to look back . Reflect on some of your past learning experiences, remember when was the best time for you to learn and how you did it .

Reviewing your past experiences can help you determine what works best for you.

Ask yourself who can help you

Remember my example with the internet marketing course?

Having somebody to help me ( an IT professional, for example) would have helped me a lot.

Find someone you trust who has mastered the skill you’re trying to attain. 

Joseph Weintraub, the author I mentioned earlier  suggests you ask yourself:

“Who in my organization, other than my boss, would notice my changes and give me honest feedback?”

Then approach that person and say something like:

“You are so comfortable with [the skill], something I’m not particularly good at. I’m really trying to work on that and would love to spend some time with you, learn from you, and get your feedback.” 

Is preferable to have someone in your organization or personal life that can support you. You can also look online for support groups.

Ask yourself what skills you need to learn

Mastering a new skill is a matter of patience , as well. It’s not going to happen overnight.

“It usually takes six months or more to develop a new skill,” says Weintraub.

 Choose one or two skills to focus on at a time, and break that skill down into manageable goals.

 For example, if you’re trying to be more confident , you might focus first speaking up more often in meetings by pushing yourself to talk within the first five minutes.

So, these are the 5 steps for mastering a new skill. 

What is your experience with learning new skills?

Feel free to comment below, it is always helpfull to have feedback from people faced the same challenges.