I have often thought of myself as a Jack of many trades – a little knowledge here, a little knowledge there. But from the way the world is going it has become clear that one needs to be a master of at least one thing to stand out because a little here and there doesn’t cut it any longer. It has come to a time wherein a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.
A little here and there doesn’t cut it any longer. In fact, it probably never did. All polymaths were known to be masters of the different fields they had interests in – the most famous of them all being Leonardo Da Vinci and Galileo. History seems to be unhappy with those who know a little about everything but have no expertise in any by just looking up the quote, “Jack of all trades, master of none“.
My desire to know about almost everything has led me to read up on tons of projects, history, debates, philosophies, and life hacks & tips among other things, which have in turn extended my knowledge base and I am ever grateful. But knowledge without implementation is ultimately useless to the possessor if he has no sue for it to his benefit. It became clear that my greatest obstacle was myself – for I had no plan. Below is a summary of the things I have in mind to develop excellent skill sets in, even to the point of being credited for my products:
I want to be able to pick up projects, stay consistent and true to them so that I can get positive results.
I want to be a Java developer. Learn both ends of web development coupled with illustrative design. I want to learn how to draw to a decent degree and I want to learn how to paint. I will probably never have a shot at singing or acting. Similarly, the chances of me being a rapper are slim – in fact, I might just be a writer looking for people who will buy my sh#t. The future plan is to own a record label (which I’ll probably start from the ground up) and a professional studio.
I want to be a writer. Write my books and be famous for being known to write elegant books. Let my elegance be unique in a weird way. I want to bring something new to the table in the field of imagination transfer. Maybe that’s why I want to be able to draw.
Or, I can become a poet – it doesn’t seem that difficult. I wish I had maintained my attention in school, I would have been so may things. But ah, poetry might not cut it. I’m in Africa so it’s more advisable that I stick to writing. Perhaps, a book or two — and a screenplay — or two!
Oh, and about owning a recording studio, it wouldn’t be ideal to own one and not be able to play at least one musical instrument, right? Well, the guitar is what I’m going to learn. Got one when I went to England in 2015. Came back to The Gambia, looked up some videos on YouTube and before I knew it, a whole year had passed and it was still “a guitar I was going to use”.
These aspirations of mine are not particularly due to FOMO but rather because I love all the above-mentioned fields of work or, to say the least, their skill set.
So, if I’ve known all that I want to learn at the moment how come I am just starting now?Procrastination – my father always warned me about her. To give you an idea of how much procrastinating I have done; I have read about how to end procrastination more times than I have ever consistently tried to do what the book says – that’s worthy of a medal! It got so bad I had to tell myself not to add any more articles to my Pocket until I was done with all the 24 articles I had there already. I went against that rule a couple of times but it was my first step to actually getting work done. Next up was my bookmarks list – I had projects that were stacked for days hoping I will retur to them soon. I religiously named them all. Sure, there were times when I had legit reasons to postpone my work but those times were the exceptions, and they were as tiny as the “i” in “few”.
Basically, I decided that this wishful reality of mine is a dangerous one and that the potential jack that I am needs to be an exceptional character in this unending story of our minute solar system. How can I stop from wanting to learn everything and focus on one thing?”.
I found a pattern common to the best answers on Quora to the question of “How can I stop from wanting to learn everything and focus on one thing?” and below is a reproduction of the best one as given by Nela Canovic; a productivity hacker & writer :
Main: How can I stop from wanting to learn everything and focus on one thing?
Detail: I am 26, I feel I want to learn everything, I want to master different programming languages, I want to read books, I want to learn more about life, I want to be on Quora because here I learn a lot. But, I can’t focus on only one thing at a time, so one thing distracts me from the others and so on.
Use your passion for learning to create a customized action plan that will keep you focused no matter what you choose to do!
These 5 ideas can help you get there fast: Start with a learning list.
- First, write down all the things you want to learn and that sound interesting to you. Be sure to list every activity, regardless of how long your list may be.
- Next, select the top 5 things that make you feel most excited when you learn about them. Ask yourself why they are so important to you: are you tapping into something you’ve always wanted to do since you were young, is it something more new that is a good fit for the skills you have or for a particular talent of yours?
- From the 5 things, select the top 3 that you cannot imagine your life without ten years from now. To make this easier to do, think about your how learning about these subjects will benefit your future self. What can your future self do with them? Can these subjects impact your future lifestyle, or career, or a passion that might turn out to be a lifelong one? Making an initial connection between what you choose now and what you can do with it later can help you in gaining better focus.
Take a look at your skills.
- Write down your current skill set: what are you really good at, what do you excel in, what is a skill that you’ve worked on developing for a long time and that you devoted many years to?
- Next, write down which skills you are developing: what are you making progress in, what are the activities that are already underway that you are working on consistently?
- Finally, add the things you consider to be your strengths and that have proven results from your past, both personally and professionally (awards you received, top grades in school, a public or professional recognition of some sort, etc.). Now you have increased you focus on your skill set and narrowed down where you may need improvement.
Match up your passion for learning new things to your skills and strengths.
- Look at your list of the top 3 things you cannot imagine your life without in 10 years, then figure out which skills and strengths you can pair them up with. For example, if your passion is learning languages, match this up with your self-discipline, your past performance in passing a course in programming or other languages, or time management skills that have helped you design a study plan so you can develop your skills.
- Determine a time frame for making progress in each area you’ve selected.It’s important to have a can-do attitude that you can learn what is exciting to you, and it’s also important to be aware that it will take some time to master something. Be prepared to put in the hard work and to practice getting better every day. Think about how quickly you want to make progress: six months, one year or two?
Make a goal-oriented and actionable plan.
- Create a goal for each area of learning: Once you’ve determined your timeframe for each area you want to focus on, write it down and add a deadline for each one. Then make your goal very specific. Write one sentence that includes your selected learning area, which progress you want to make in it, and the date by which you want to complete it by. For example, if you’re learning a new language, write, “I want to be proficient in [level of proficiency: basic, intermediate, advanced] in [your target language] and accomplish this by [target date].
- Make an actionable plan: Create a monthly plan and divide your time for each week, and then each day, when you can focus on the areas you’ve identified. Don’t feel like you must devote hours and hours each day to every area. The key is to be consistent: make sure to devote some time, even if it’s 30 minutes a day, to work towards your goals. If that is still too much time commitment, start with a session of 15 minutes to work on a small task. Once you get into the habit, you will see it will be easier to increase the time to bigger increments, for example, 30 minutes or one hour.
Mark your progress and celebrate each small win.
- Help your brain stay motivated by marking each step you take in a positive direction. Why is this important? Your brain doesn’t know the difference between progress and perceived progress, so you’re better off giving praise for the small steps you do succeed in. How do you do this? Once you’ve completed a section of your daily plan, check it off your list. Then think about how it feels to have accomplished something that gets you closer to your goal. Allow yourself to feel proud of your work even if it took only 15 minutes! Because this will all add up to something much bigger for you in the long run.
- Treat yourself when you finish your weekly goals by doing something you enjoy: spend an evening out with friends, go on a long bike ride, play guitar or another instrument that gives you pleasure, dedicate one hour to read a book you’ve wanted to start for a long time, or write about your progress in achieving goals that are most important to you. Rewarding yourself on a regular basis is a key element in every goal achieving process, because it helps to keep you motivated and focused, and adds more positivity and happiness to the work that you do.
A brilliant answer to the question, if you ask me, and it is the strategy myself and a few of my colleagues have agreed to use to streamline our learning path.
It doesn’t have to be programming, drawing, or learning a new language. It can be practicing and getting better at the games you want to perfect, reading the books that you have always wanted to read, doing the assignments you schedule for yourself to complete despite the difficulties you may face, etc and the real sense of fulfillment will be worth the effort.
Dad’s Nigerian. Mum’s Cameroonian. Dad fluently speaks at least 4 languages and mom fluently speaks at least 3 – other than English! Me? I speak just 2 and I don’t like that. So I’m challenging myself to speak fluent french in at least a year – since I am not in a french-speaking area, and I’ve already got another language to learn to use fluently; Java. So, french with Duolingo and FreeCodeCamp for an online work-related community.
Now that you know my productivity strategy, join me if you can. There’s nothing to be reluctant about. We can work together to set goals and make sure to keep in touch to support one another in any cool way we can. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, My Blog, and/or Duolingo. You wouldn’t need a fresh start if you don’t see the need to. What’s important is that we stay consistent and productive.
If you’re interested in Programming or learning to program then you can link up with me on FreeCodeCamp and/or GitHub where we can work directly on projects together. If you’re in Gambia there is a Code group on facebook that you can join; it’s a place where the purpose of meeting there would be completely beneficial to the purpose of the group and the satisfaction of the members.
Let me know what’s on your mind in the comments section below. Questions and advice are welcome. So also are thumbs ups 😀
- Read about Polymaths on Wikipedia
- Read the small documentation of Jack of All Trades on Wikipedia
- See all the answers to the Quora question
- Select “view page source” to read the trivia for this post
Merci pour la lecture