July 26, 2022

How to upskill yourself

The following are 5 ways to upskill yourself in order to create more value for yourself and the people around you.

Here are 5 ways to upskill yourself in order to create more value for yourself and the people around you:

  • Write a list of new skills that could compliment your current skills
  • Set a goal and commit to it
  • Do your 20 hours of homework
  • Learn, Practice, share and repeat
  • Teach others what you know so far

Why is it important to upskill?

Upskilling is the process of learning new skills and improving existing ones through education, training, or experience. It helps people get better at their jobs, reach their professional goals, and advance in their careers. It can also help people achieve personal goals by building the skills to take on new or more challenging tasks or activities.

It's true that some jobs will always require only basic knowledge and skills—there will never be a need for everyone to learn how to perform heart surgery, for example. But even within those fields where there aren't any specific requirements for upskilling, not everyone has the same level of knowledge and skill. Suppose you don't have the same level as others who are already employed in your field. In that case, you're at a disadvantage—you may miss opportunities for promotions or raises, or denied opportunities that would otherwise open up to others without hesitation.

It may be easier to stick with one thing and get really good at it than to keep starting over, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to better yourself. When you're working toward something new, you have the advantage of being able to learn from what you know now, and that's a great opportunity to think about how you can make your life better.

Here are some ways to begin upskilling yourself:

List down complimentary skills

We've all heard the expression "jack of all trades," but how many of us are actually masters of many? If you want to improve your chances of finding the right job, it's essential to broaden your search beyond what you're already capable of doing. Reflect on and figure out what skills will compliment your current ones the best.

To do this, think of your current niche first. Say, it’s graphic design. You have already mastered Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. A quick Google search on the related skills under this field includes Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office Suite, and HTML. Following this are UI/UX design, print design, typography, CSS, and web design. These are very good starting points in thinking about expanding your expertise in the field.

Set a goal and commit

Now that you have chosen a specific skill to learn, it’s time to set and a goal and commit to it. Perhaps you want a promotion or a change in responsibilities. Do you feel like you're working too much and not getting paid enough? Are you tired of the commute or don't like the tasks you're doing? Is there a position opening up at another company that would be more exciting? Whatever it is, commit to making it happen.

If you set a goal with an end date, it'll give you a sense of accountability and motivation as well as build in checkpoints where you can look at what's going well and what needs improvement. After this is commitment—do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Think about what type of classes or training courses might help, whether it's something specific to your job or something that will make you more marketable in general.

Do your 20 hours of homework

After selecting a skill, setting a goal, and committing to it. It’s finally D-day—time to start doing. In his book The First 20 Hours, Josh  Kaufmann discusses how it is possible to quickly learn a skill within 20 hours if you focus on speed and quantity rather than quality. Make the first 20 hours more effective by breaking it down into one hour a day for 20 days. This also employs the principle of spaced repetition.

According to him, here are the ten principles in acquiring a skill rapidly:

  1. Choose a lovable project.
  2. Focus your energy on one skill at a time.
  3. Define your target performance level.
  4. Deconstruct the skill into subskills.
  5. Obtain critical tools.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice.
  7. Make dedicated time for practice.
  8. Create fast feedback loops.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts of 20 minutes.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed.

Learn, Practice, Share, Repeat

Upskilling is a multi-level process. It starts with learning something new. You then take that knowledge and apply it in practice . This can mean getting involved in a project at work or volunteering on an interesting side project outside of work, using the skills and knowledge that you've acquired from your study. Finally, you share your accomplishments with others and talk about what worked for you and what didn't so that others can benefit from your experience. With social media, it’s easier to upload your work and let people see your progress, giving you a sense of ownership & accountability.

The thing about upskilling is that it has to be cyclical. Learning never stops, so after applying your new knowledge, you will inevitably find yourself at the same point again—you'll want to go back and learn more so that next time you apply that knowledge you will be even better at it.

Teach others what you know so far

In hyperlearning or being able to learn things at a quicker pace, it is said that you could learn more effectively by teaching others.

When you learn something new, chances are there are other people out there who could benefit from the knowledge or skill that you've gained. Communicating what you know to others in an accessible way can be a great way to share your expertise with others, also practice what you have learned, and potentially help someone else grow as an individual. It also gives you a chance to get real-world feedback on what you're learning—something that's often hard to come by when it comes to self-teaching.

In itself, teaching is also another skill that you could add to the tools on your belt.

For now, think about the niche you are most interested to work on. Then, try to do a quick search on the practical skills related to it.

For example: “skills needed to be a ___________”

The path to becoming an expert on a skill of your own choosing is an exciting one. To follow it through from start to finish is an even more fulfilling journey. In the end, though, most paths will be a lot of hard work and dedication—but with repeated, consistent, and quality practice, you'll get there.