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How to Master any Skill in Less than One Year

Woman raising her hands because she understood how to master any skill in less than one year

When I first heard about the 10.000-hours rule, I was disappointed. Does it take that much time to learn any skill? Could I master any skill in less than one year instead?

Short answer – yes, it is possible, but you need to use the correct techniques.

First of all, what is the 10.000-hours rule? The 10.000-hours rule is a rule of thumb, invented by Anders Ericsson and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, which states that it takes 10 thousand hours of deliberate practice to master any skill. But nowadays, the wide range of skills that we are supposed to learn to stand out makes it impossible to dedicate that much time to one ability only.

According to the 10.000-hours rule, it will take almost seven years to master one skill if you practice 4 hours per day. But how are we supposed to spend seven years only to master 2-3 skills at most when our jobs require many more than that?

The possibilities are two. Either the rule doesn’t work, or you can for sure use some tricks to fasten the process. Let’s assume it always works, and the 10.000 hours are necessary. In this case, there is only one way out: you need to speed up the process.

5 Rules to Master any Skill in less than One Year

Learning a new skill has always been a process that requires time, and it will always be. There are no magic potions nor fairy essences that could make you skip that period of uncertainty and pain that comes with learning. But if you want to enhance your speed in acquiring new abilities, the diving technique could create miracles.

Diving into the skill means surrounding yourself with external inputs that point to that skill. It means creating a shooting range where you are the target, and your external network shoots at you with ideas related to that specific skill.

To do that, you can follow 5 simple rules.

1 – Find a Mentor

The wisest technique when trying to flatten a learning curve for a skill is to find a mentor.

Due to their expertise, mentors can speed up the process of acquiring new satellite skills and knowledge by showing you how they work. Simple observation, on your side, can evolve into beneficial solutions when trying to achieve something specific or avoid failures.

Mentors can help you with the struggles of the work, give you relevant feedback, and provide advanced notions you would have hardly acquired otherwise.

But the most important thing is that mentors can help you build a professional network. If they have a broad network of clients, they might give you their extra work. By helping them, you have two advantages. The first is that you strengthen your collaboration, and also you get to know some clients that may return directly to you. (Of course, you need to talk to your mentors about it to keep a healthy relationship.)

2 – Be a Mentor

Having a mentor may teach you how to master a skill, but being one is quite different. By mentoring someone, you make contact with both the struggles of the past and new ideas. So together with your mentee, you could define new solutions to old problems.

When you are at the beginning of a learning journey, you do a lot of questions. And even if most of them are useless, the ability to question your work can bring you to evolution when you think you reached the endpoint.

If you are down the learning path, you will probably have fewer questions and less creative power to evolve your skillset. So becoming a mentor can provide you that creative power and generate a mutual sharing of skills and questions, which is beneficial for both of you.

3 – Share your Experience

Every time you apply for a new skill, there has to be someone that gives you feedback, or it will be impossible to understand what you are doing right and what needs to change.

When studying at school, that feedback comes from your teachers and professors. When working, it comes from your employer or clients. But what about self-taught skills?

Self-acquired abilities require a third person to evaluate your work and give you feedback. In some cases, this person could be a mentor, but not everybody can find one. So in all the other cases, the answer is sharing.

Find a suitable platform, figure a schedule, and share your content. Whatever you are doing, from painting to jumping in place, there will always be an audience for the skill you are trying to achieve.

Still, you need to keep in mind that sharing online isn’t easy. If you use it for feedback, you need to divide helpful and counterproductive comments. To do that, I split the audience into 3 parts:

  • The Fans will support you as a person, so they can’t give you reliable feedback.
  • The Haters will hate you as a person, so they won’t be interested in giving you helpful feedback.
  • The Critics will understand and evaluate your work, so they will provide valuable feedback.
How to master any skill in less than one year, infographic on how to split comments when share your work online
Infographic on how to split comments when share your work online

4 – Use the Micro-Skill Streategy

Average results can teach you nothing more than you already know, so they won’t speed up your learning process. Succeeding and failing instead will allow you to analyze the reasons behind your results and change or persevere with the same strategy.

A reliable way to implement a strategy in your learning curve is to split the skill you are trying to acquire into micro-skills. For example, in writing, you don’t need to know only grammar. You need to know how to revise and publish an article, manage a site, be creative, and promote your work. If you subdivide the macro-skill of writing into those micro-skills, you can analyze them singularly and give yourself a mark for each of them. So by raising the competence in each, you improve your score overall.

5 – Use the 1% Rule

If the 10.000-hours rule is a pessimistic view of reality, the 1% rule is too optimistic. With the 1% rule, you should improve your skill by one percent every day, but that would mean learning a new skill in 100 days, which is impossible.

The real meaning of the 1% rule is to improve your skill a little every day, even if it seems irrelevant. To master it, you need to learn something new every day. You need to practice, learn, fail, and then be successful. Because if you don’t work on your skill today, it won’t take you 10 thousand hours to finish, but 10 thousand + 1, which is not what you want.

Is it possible to master any skill in less than one year?

Sweet words and all, that’s ok. But is it possible to master a skill in less than one year?

I think it is. Of course, it mostly depends on the skill – you won’t learn to drive a space shuttle, but you could learn to publish your content online, for example.

There is a wide range of skills that you can master in 365 days, or even less. And even for the most critical ones, if you use the 5 tips above, you may enhance your learning process by a lot, even if you don’t reach mastery.

However, whether you reach mastery or not, that would be only the first step of your career. Even if you manage to learn the skill in a year, can you make good use of it? Can you monetize it? Can you use it properly? That depends uniquely on you.


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Cover photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

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