1) Keep Trying New Things
Having lots of hobbies is one of the secrets of the most creative people.
Matt Cutts gives a great talk about how trying new things for 30 days not only helped him learn new skills but also changed him as a person.
2) Don’t Fear Failure
In Eric Ries’ acclaimed bestseller The Lean Startup he makes it clear that little bets, or “experiments”, are critical to moving a business forward in a safe fashion:
Getting it wrong helps you get it right. Making mistakes is vital to improvement.
Taking tests increases performance – even when you fail the tests. Deliberately making mistakes during training led to better learning than being taught to prevent errors.
3) A Supportive Environment
The most effective way to change your behavior over the long term is to manipulate your environment. Change your surroundings to make what you should do easy and what you shouldn’t do hard.
And I’m not just talking about moving furniture around. Probably the most important thing in your environment is supportive friends.
And when it comes to learning there’s nothing more valuable than a good mentor. How do you pick the right one?
Via Daniel Coyle’s excellent book The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills:
4) Focus on the Long Term
Merely deciding you’re committed for the long-term vs the short-term dramatically increases progress and improvement.
5) Make It Fun
There are 1000 ways to improve but the truth is, you’re probably not going to follow through with anything too complicated, difficult or outside your normal routine.
Understand this, accept it and work with it. Fit new things in to your current habits and make them enjoyable. Playing and learning are not opposites. In fact, playing is the most natural way to learn.
In fact, there’s some anecdotal research that shows we may need play.
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
Join more than 100,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.