You can learn by yourself and master new skills to help advance your career. Formal education and even certificate programs can cost you a lot of time and money. Learning these new skills and knowledge on your own may actually be more effective than enrolling in college courses.
This ability to learn by yourself is especially important in our volatile job market. You must develop new, in-demand career skills to remain competitive. There are a few main things you need to remember when you start on the path of self study…
1 – It’s OK to be Self-Taught
People with degrees (myself included) often over-emphasize the importance of having a college diploma. Some successful entrepreneurs are actually pushing the idea of avoiding formal education in favor of learning how a business really works. They argue that too much time in the classroom actually closes your mind and hinders your creative thinking.
An autodidact is a self-taught person. One site that’s dedicated to autodidacticism lists many famous people who were self taught. The list includes Alexander G. Bell, Jane Austen, Richard Branson, Maya Angelou, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Florence Nightingale. And even though he accrued formal schooling, much of the breakthrough study and research Albert Einstein performed was on his own.
The key is to feel confident in your self-taught skills and abilities. If you learn something correctly and effectively, what does it matter where or how much you paid to learning it?
2 – Learning for Free is Good
The Internet has made loads of information and learning available for free. There are many free learning resources available through local libraries. You can learn many computer programming languages or software programs for free.
Learning on your own does not pile up tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars in debt like college programs often do. If you’re trying to learn new, higher paying skills while holding down a full time job, you probably don’t have the time or money to go back to college.
Try to identify as many free learning resources for your desired skill set as possible. In addition to what you find on the Internet or from libraries, you could identify community or government agencies that provide these programs for free. You could also find someone willing to mentor or tutor you.
3 – Identify Your Learning Style
Depending on the nature of the skill you’re trying to teach yourself, you may learn it by a combination of hearing, seeing or by actually doing it. I walk you through basic learning theories and how to identify your own learning preferences in the book.
Part of effectively identifying your own learning style includes defining where and when you learn best. Some people need the environment to be very quiet, while others prefer some ambient noise and activity to concentrate better.
Some things to ask yourself to help discover your own learning preferences may include:
- What have I learned effectively in the past, and how?
- Where have I learned the best?
- How can I improve my attention span and concentration?
- When have I had the most fun learning new information or skills?
4 – Validate Your Self-Taught Skills & Knowledge
Someone once said, “To be self-taught is no sin, but to be self-certified is another matter.” You need to be able to prove that your new knowledge and skills are on par with other experts. Can you “hang” with other professionals in the industry who have received formal training?
You need to prove and test your new knowledge and skills in the real work world. Create a portfolio or collection of the work you’ve done with your self-taught skills. Don’t simply say you know how to do something; prove it by showing it.
As you remember these keys to learning on your own, you can confidently pursue self-taught skills. To learn more about teaching yourself higher paying skills, be sure to check out the book on Amazon.com. Good luck!