The Fit Student—How to Choose a Skill to Master

Do you dream of gaining expertise at some skill?  A loved one of mine happily works on a skill for hours daily.  She’s clearly a master.  But she’ll never admit it.  Instead, she’ll say, “I’m far from mastery.  I’m just a lifelong student.”

So, why do mastery and humbleness go hand in hand? According to the Positive Trait Thesaurus, wise people downplay their talents.

You might want to gain mastery of a skill, too. But perhaps you haven’t decided on a skill to master.  So, how do you choose?

The first rule of choosing your skill to master is to pick one and only one skill (Scott, 2016).  But which one should you pick?  Well, author Steve Scott says, “The simplest way to determine what’s important to you is to ask a series of five questions:” (23%).

First, “Is there something you want to learn that will improve your health or physical fitness?” (23%). For instance, if you have an autoimmune condition and want to regain your health, then watch plenty of health and diet documentaries, read diet and fitness books, frequent a gym, consult a dietitian, read a nutrition 101 textbook, download a nutrition app, change your diet, and consider studying the Human Sciences at AU. I bet you find a cure—or at least lessen your suffering—while carving out a possible vocation. Studying the Human Sciences at AU can ready you for a medical education such as a doctorate in naturopathy.  Seeking your own cure makes for an ideal skill to master.

Second, “What skill is important for your career development?” (23%). If learning design skills or Excel formulas help you gain momentum in a career, then it might be worth the time and money investment. Careers have grown more competitive in the flailing Albertan economy, so picking a career related skill can bolster your opportunities.

Third, “Do you want to pick up a new hobby?” (24%).  You might have dreamed of conducting music in a home studio.  Or you may have wanted to learn multiple languages to arm you in world travel.  Full immersion in another country is a wonderful way to learn a language, just as long as you build on your studies through translator apps, books, audio courses, and an online foreign language coach.  The more resources you use, the more rounded your mastery of the skill.

Fourth, “Are you interested in starting a side business?” (24%).  The most ideal sideline business is one that builds on the skills you use in your day job.  Another ideal sideline business builds on your education.  The more synergy you can unearth in a skill, the better.

Fifth, “Do you want to improve your financial situation?” (24%).  Don’t be the guy who earns a quarter-million-dollar annual salary who claims he can’t afford to eat organic. Boost your salary with a money-making side skill.  For instance, you can learn stocks, options, futures, and currency trading. Or you could go into real estate house flipping.  Any skill that boosts your income helps both yourself and those you love.

No matter what skill you choose, “you can achieve skill mastery by … pick[ing] a single skill that you’d like to master… surround[ing] yourself with quality information … creat[ing] a project around this skill … [and] deliberately practic[ing] this skill every day” (7%).

So, what skill do you hope to master over your lifetime?  Whatever it is, weigh the payoff with wisdom.

Scott, “S.J”, Steve. (2016). NOVICE TO EXPERT 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills. Oldtown Publishing LLC. E-book.