5 Common Mistakes Users Make When Trying To Learn New Skills

Learning something new is always very exciting. It seems like there is so much knowledge around you, and so many ways for you to absorb it.

New and inexperienced students, however, sometimes make mistakes which negatively affect their learning journey. This is natural and all part of the education process: learning how to overcome these mistakes will help you become a better learner in the long run.

Here are five common errors that many students make when trying something new. We’ve also provided some helpful advice on what you can do to fix them!

1. Comparing yourself to others

There is a famous saying: ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. When we struggle with learning something new, it can be discouraging when we see other people do well at it. ‘What’s the point?’ we ask ourselves. ‘I’ll never be as good as my friend. I might as well stop.’

This kind of self-defeating attitude will only cause problems in the long run. What’s important to remember is that everyone, even the most talented genius, also started not knowing anything in his or her field. Most of the time, you only see them at their best, and not see all the hard work, sacrifice, and effort that they put in to get where they are. They have probably failed many times, and struggled with the same problems you did.

How to overcome this: Try comparing yourself positively to others instead of negatively. Adopt the attitude ‘if my friend can do it, so can I’. Alternatively, accept that everyone has their own talents, and grows at their own rate. Your friend may be great at something, but you excel at other things. Help and support each other and don’t focus on comparisons.

2. Having unrealistic expectations

A lot of things look very easy at first glance, but take a long time to master. Some people are overconfident, expecting to be good at something immediately. They become impatient after things do not go their way and mastering their required skill is more difficult than they expect.  

How to overcome this: Remember that learning is a journey, not a destination. How you learn is just as important as what you learn. While getting a certificate is nice, the most important part of a course is the process of learning along the way. Don’t rush too much, and understand that mastering something can sometimes take longer (or shorter) than you expect.

3. Giving up too fast

This is the main reason people end their learning journeys early. Learners face a challenge when trying to learn something, and decide it is too much for them to handle. They decide to stop, not knowing that they were so close to succeeding.

How to overcome this: remember that problems are not there to make our lives difficult, but serve as opportunities for us to learn and grow. The bestselling author Seth Godin said there are three major reasons people give up: lack of drive, interest or guidance. Before giving up on something, remember those three options, and consider if there is a way to regain what you are lacking.

Remember not to let short term problems ruin long-term success. Overcoming a challenge will only make you stronger in the future. Will you look back at your life in 10 or 20 years, and regret not doing something when you had more time? To rephrase the TV show ‘Adventure Time’, being bad at something is the first step to being good at something.

4. Memorizing instead of understanding

It can be very easy to just memorize facts without really absorbing them. A lot of us will probably remember how back in high school, many students would cram for their exams at the last minute for our exams, and then immediately forget what they had learnt the next day!

This is not an effective way of learning. There is no point in remembering (for example) what are the five habits of successful employees, but not knowing how to put these habits into practice.

How to overcome: When learning something, try to go further and understand the context behind why you are learning it. Try and practice putting what you know into practice as much as possible. ReSkills coaches sometimes have role-playing sessions and practical activities: try to participate in them as much as you can!

5. Doing it alone

It can sometimes be overwhelming to learn something new. Especially when a topic is vast, or highly complicated. Some learners try to be a hero and tackle all of it by themselves. This can feel very stressful and lead to problems like burnout or depression.

How to overcome: This problem is very simple to solve. Just reach out to other people! This makes learning not just easier, but more fun as well. Try study groups or meetings with classmates or people you know. On ReSkills, try inviting a friend to come join a class with you, and embark on a learning adventure together! You also have access to coaches, and a host of useful learning tools to make education easy.

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