Learning something new is never easy.
We’re often comfortable with what we already know, and entering the unknown can make many of us feel uncertainty, whether we’re learning how to speak Spanish, pick up a new sport, or date a new partner.
But with the right resources, anyone of us can learn something new without quitting ever again. This is what we call overcoming “The Dip.”
Overcoming “The Dip”
Bestselling author and entrepreneur, Seth Godin shares when is the right time to quit something versus when we should persist. In his book, he talks about the most common reasons why most people quit before they reach their full potential, which can be very useful to know before it happens to you.
According to Godin, these are the five reasons why you might fail to overcome “The Dip.”
1. You run out of time (and quit)
2. You run out of money (and quit)
3. You get scared (and quit)
4. You’re not serious about it (and quit)
5. You lose interest (and quit)
You can apply these reasons to common situations, including learning a new language, starting your own business, or getting in shape.
As you follow the progression of the cycle one goes through while learning something new, you can see that the “Crisis” mode is the most significant, as it can lead to one of 3 moves:
- You quit.
- You accept the crisis and go through an extended crisis.
- You re-construct, recover, and transform yourself to reach a higher standard than when you started.
As we continue our learning journey, “The Dip” is something we will continuously face. The faster we can get ourselves out of “Crisis” mode, and into “Transformation” mode will determine the potential of the talent we can reach at the skill.
How To Make It Stick When We Learn Something New
Mindset > Skills
You can have all the resources and skills in the world, but they’re not much without the right mindset.
Carol Dweck, who’s the bestselling author of Mindset, talks about what’s known as the Growth Mindset.
According to Dweck, humans can have one of two mindsets: Growth mindset or Fixed mindset. She differentiates the two here:
A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.
A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.
If you’re thinking about quitting or giving up, remember that you’re undergoing a process of growing, and struggle is part of the path to mastery.
Figure Out How You Learn Best
Just like you wouldn’t expect a basketball player to be the best juggler, we shouldn’t expect everyone to learn the same.
Some of us learn better by listening to an audio recording, while others would be bored out of their minds.
Studies have shown that there are seven main learning styles:
- Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.
It’s safe to assume that the way you are learning today may not be your ideal way of learning, and that you should experiment for yourself what your best style of learning is.
For example, if you’re an adult, there’s exciting research that shows adults can be as good, if not better, than children at learning a language. This depends on the right learning method of adults, whether they use immersion versus memorization, and their ability to continue learning. One of the key explanations for this is that adults have more experience than children at understanding how we best learn something new, versus children who are only figuring it out.
Figure out how you learn best by recalling the moments when you retained the most information from a learning session, while experimenting and analyzing new styles of learning moving forward.
Learn By Doing
Think about how you learned how to ride a bicycle, swim at the pool, or learn your first language. You learned it by doing.
5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture (i.e. university/college lectures)
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading (i.e. books, articles)
20% of what they learn from audio-visual (i.e. apps, videos)
30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
90% of what they learn when they use immediately (or teach others)
Give yourself the best shot at learning faster and retaining more skill/information by completely immersing yourself in the activity, instead of relying on theory (i.e. books, videos, courses).
As for next steps, pick something hat you’ve been wanting to learn. Then refer to the 3 steps we shared in this post:
- Mindset > Skills
- Figure out how you learn best
- Learn by doing
Follow-up reading recommendation:
- Complete Guide to Being More Persistent (And Never Quitting Again)
- How to Find More Time In Your Schedule to Learn Something New
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.