Blog

A collection of articles and design explorations I’ve created since 2013. Visit the archive for the most popular articles.

In addition to my portfolio and gallery, I sometimes feel inspired to share the process of learning new software or techniques. Here you'll find a combination of tutorials, news and image/scene breakdowns. 

30 Day Challenge: Invest in Yourself

The word 'investment' is often misused and thought to be a synonym for 'big expense'. In order to be an investment, something needs to return more value to you than you traded for it. Education is an investment if you use it to generate income since income has many uses for us today. Today I want to share with you a very simple investment you can make for very little money, which has the potential to bring you pleasure, money, comfort, reduce stress, increase confidence, provide social proof and pretty much anything you want. Wow, I sound like a sleazy sales-guy. I promise, I'm not asking you to buy anything from me. Let's dive in.

Education. That's it. When you know more about a subject, or are better at a skill than somebody who wishes to learn said skill, often, he or she will pay you to teach them. When a company is making a decision as to which applicant to hire, they'll chose the one who's more valuable to the company, and often times, it's the more skilled or experienced applicant. If you have more experience or knowledge on a subject than most, you'll be seen as an authority. Being an authority opens doors such as getting paid to teach others, getting paid to be a subject expert in legal cases, being a guest writer, or a writer with clout, gaining a following, gaining respect, landing jobs, leaving a legacy and much more. In short, learn more, improve your skills, increase your value. Easier said than done? Think again.

Becoming an expert or an authority will sound daunting if you try to compare yourself to the others with the skills you want to learn or get better at. It's much easier if we simplify the process. To make this easy, we'll focus on 3 things:

  1. Incremental Progress
  2. Intelligent Practice
  3. Consistency

Sounds simple, right? I'll explain each one and how it'll ensure you see the quickest progress.

Incremental Progress

Incremental Progress means that you focus on improving every time you do something. For instance, if you're trying to learn to increase your typing speed (gwpm), every time you practice, you'll focus on getting faster than the previous time, even if it's only by 1 character per minute. If you're trying to learn about online marketing, making time to read about how to be great at online marketing (even if it's just one, single page) will lead to progress. By putting one (metaphorical) foot in front of the other as often as you can manage to, will be the number one factor in your learning.

Intelligent Practice

Intelligent Practice means that you're trying to progress as much as possible in as short a time as possible. For example, if you were trying to build the world's largest baseball card collection, and you only had $5,000 to spend, you wouldn't buy one card that cost $5,000. If you did, you would have one card, and not a collection. It would make sense to buy as many as you can get for your money. Another example: Let's say you wish to learn how to Salsa dance. You'd want to learn the top most versatile moves and how to improvise rather than learning only one complex move. With one complex move, you can't Salsa in a social environment. A final example: Suppose you want to increase your value to a company (who wants a raise?) or add skills you can market to your resume. If you learn a software that eliminates the need to outsource a project, you've saved your company money and increased your hourly rate! By focusing on how to get the most value, knowledge or experience in the shortest period of time, you'll see the most progress.

Consistency

Consistency means the more you do something, the better you'll be at it. Do something once a year and you won't be good at it. Do something once a week and you'll be decent at it. Do something daily and you'll become great at it. This is the tough part for most people. This is why I'm calling it a 'challenge'. It's a challenge to work out every day. It's a challenge to read every day. However, the acts of being active or reading words from a book isn't difficult for most of us. The longer a task will take the more insurmountable it seems. If we feel we are out of shape, then we immediately decide that our next workout needs to be very long and strenuous. Likewise, if we've got a 300 page book to read, at some point, subconsciously, we decide we need to read for hours on end to make a dent in it. The problem with this mindset is that we tend to fill up our schedules and don't have hours of 'down time'. If we automatically assume we need hours to get great at something, then we'll quickly realize we only have a few times a month when that 'free time' shows up and we decide to begin learning something new.

Here's the surprising part: 43 minutes a day for one month comes out to about 20 hours! When's the last time you spent 43 minutes distracted by checking email, , Facebook, or Youtube? According to by marketingcharts.com, if you're between the ages of 18 and 64, you spent 3.2 hours on social networks yesterday, and will spend that much time today and tomorrow. What if you cut your social media time in half and allocated half of it to learning? That would be 1.8 hours per day and 54 hours in a month! Keep it up for a year and that's 648 hours!

What can you do with 648 hours? According to this wonderful Ted Talk by Josh Kaufman, research shows you could learn how to do 32 things new you'd never done before! Here's another great resource: (recommended to me by the gent in the photo above) In her book, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher prescribes a thirty-day small commitment. Do anything for thirty minutes for thirty days and you'll see results.

If we take Josh's findings to be true, then the first 20 hours of learning are the most efficient. This means you'll learn the most during the first 20 hours of hard focus. The bottom line is that consistency begets results!

The Challenge! Now that it's clear the 3 major areas to focus on are Incremental Progress, Intelligent Practice and Consistency, I challenge you to take action! Here are the steps if you need them:

  1. Watch this Ted Talk I mentioned earlier.
  2. Write down at least 5 skills you think would make your time more valuable either at your job, with your family, as a business owner or anywhere else you can think of.
  3. Choose one the most important skill from your list.
  4. Identify a time of day to devote each day. I recommend first thing in the morning with your tea or coffee.
  5. Commit for 30 days.

What am I doing? I'm taking action this month by committing 2 hours every day to learn the CAD design software SolidWorks (an essential for any Industrial Designer). I'm working my way through this SolidWorks Instruction Book written by Paul Tran, one of the most knowledgeable instructors on the subject. So far, I'm seeing quick results.

There you have it. A sure-fire way to learn anything you want to in one month with time you already have! Please, if you're up for the challenge, comment below on what skill you're going to learn, then hopefully a month from now, you can comment back on your progress! That would make my day!