Do You End Up Using Every Skill You Learn?

Do you end up using every skill that you learn?

Throughout our lives, we learn so many skills. When you were a child you were told to learn so much of subjects to get you through formal education. It’s important to get primary education. Your knowledge of basic science and mathematics will always come handy.

But the career-defining skills are learnt in your younger years as you enter college or at least we are told so.

Is that true?

Will you be using every knowledge or skill that you learn at college in your career path?

Countless studies confirm the fact that many of the knowledge and skills we learn won’t transfer to a situation where we need those.

  • In one of the studies, many students who learnt psychology at highschool didn’t perform better at college-level psychology.
  • In another study, people who learnt economics at college didn’t perform better at solving economics problems when compared to those who had no college education.

Beyond such studies, we see such examples around us. There are countless examples where individuals not being good at what they have formally learnt. We also see individuals who switch to careers that are the exact opposite of what they have been doing until then.

I have seen my friends and relatives who have learnt engineering at college later doing an MBA degree and entering the business domain.

At least for me, this looks depressing considering the fact that we put years of effort to gain formal education and learning skills but left with very few that can be put into any use.

What intrigued me is the fact that even if we learn something it doesn’t mean we will be able to apply it. Unless you can’t apply what you learn what’s the point of learning it.

Blaming an education system that we have inherited is same as taking zero ownership to our lives. There is a lot more to do with how we approach what we choose to learn.

I have already argued in an earlier post that now is the best time to learn important skills that can define your career and the rest of your life. If you have already learnt something or decided to do so, you better check if it is worth the effort.

At least, learn something in a way that you can apply it. The reason many doesn’t end up using what they have learnt is a knowledge bereft of application skills.

If you learn something in a way you can apply it, then you end up using it in your life anyway.

But applying what you learn is more elusive than you think it is. You should be strategic in avoiding the trap of just being a learner than an actionist of the skill.

Don’t Just Learn, Do or Make

First of all, I’m not good at everything I have learnt. I don’t even remember many subjects that I have learnt so far in college. But whenever I took an effort to learn something that fascinated me, I was intense in applying it.

When I started learning web development courses, I could have just completed the course and earned a certificate. This blog would have never been real if I had settled just to complete that course. As I was progressing through my learning I made efforts to make websites and publishing online. I remember calling my friends and asking if I can make websites for them. The real learning I had wasn’t from the course but from applying it in real.

(I will be updating about the progress of a new skill that I’m learning in the coming months.)

Always make or do something out of the project that you put your effort into.

  • Don’t just learn JavaScript, make functioning websites.
  • Don’t just learn an algorithm, practice it with the pseudocode.
  • Don’t just read through books or ideas, contemplate and share it with others.
  • Don’t just learn a language, use it to have conversations with the native speakers.

Focus on the Method of Learning

If you are travelling, the destination will always inspire you. But focusing on the destination instead of how you reach it is abysmal.

You should build a profound learning method whenever you’re learning a new skill. Have proper routines and robust practising sessions for perfecting your journey.

Decide When You Finish

You should know when you will complete a learning task. Life should be spent learning but not just with one skill.

Most times the learning effort is slowed down not since the learning curve was tough but by getting lost in an indefinite learning period.

When you clearly define an endpoint it’s a lot easier to commit to it for that particular period instead of getting overwhelmed when the learning becomes tough.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice looks optional because that’s how we learnt from schools and college textbooks. Learning an equation was important than using it to solve a problem. But in reality, if you don’t practice, you are not learning to apply the skill but wasting time. It’s time to change from that sort of mindset to a practice-oriented mindset.

Learning something new will fascinate you but the knowledge is lost if you don’t put in the effort to review and practice. Spend the same or double the amount of time to review and practice than the time spent on learning.

When you switch to a practice-oriented mindset while learning, you are leveraging the effectiveness of it. Adopt this mindset and you will certainly end up using what you have learnt.

Comment What You’re Going to Learn

I’m curious to know what you would like to learn during these lockdown days. What are your strategies to be good at what you learn? This month has just begun and what are the goals you would like to achieve at the end of this month? If you’re a college student you can consider passing an exam as a learning effort for this month.

Photo by Elvis Bekmanis

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