On How To Be An Autodidact - 5 Cornerstones

In my experience there are 5 key values to really embrace the self-taught expereince. Of course, I'd like to share that with you, here we go:

1) Motivation

The first cornerstone is motivation. Nothing really gets you going if you are not motivated to do so. The hardest part about it, that you normally do not have a teacher or a trainer that motivates you, autodidacts have the mental strength to motivate themselves or know how to leverage motivation. Commonly used hacks in life are telling your friends and family about your project or goal, because then you'll have to live up to it. Other people share it on Social Media, simple but effective.

2) Determination

Learning something new and trying to teach it yourself takes time and effort, it's a marathon and not a sprint. Usually I set a date of 10 days in a row to test my determination and applicability in my daily routines. If something does not fit in or simply lost my interest in that period, I won't continue. If I can keep it, I'll integrate it. Don't get me wrong, when you want something badly but stop after three days, that doesn't mean you should give up, but sometimes there are things that you'd like to accomplish but somehow it just won't land or you are just not ready for it. So determination in itself is the test.

3) Milestones

Track your success! You have to have a clear goal and set milestones, short-term AND long-term. In business people love to say, which is originally a McKinsey Maxim: "What you can measure you can manage". This correlates heavily with your motivation. Quick wins and positive events can elevate your feeling of achievement and motivate you. It can also build up some self-worth before you encounter your first setback - and it will come, trust me. So milestones have to happen and they have to be realistic. I can give you an personal example: playing guitar. I had a great time during my first 3 months with continous new skills, learning the chords and everything - the next time it felt like something changed took 2 more guitars and 18 months. Now I'm at a level where I would need to put much more time and practise into it to get better. So make sure to be realistic - same goes with learning languages, try Japanese or Chinese if you want to try it out.

4) Apply it as often as possible

Whatever you try to teach yourself, make sure to share it with people and use it in your daily life as often as possible. You can only learn so much in theory, you have to praactise in real life too. So find a Skype partner for your language, join a band with your instrument, join a fitness club or publish your photos regularly on Instagram/Pinterest. You have to get out there and practise, get real life feedback and embrace it. This will also help you to build up your solid base of motivation, which leads us back to b ulelt point number one.

5) Review your results: What you've learned and how do you feel about it?

Obviously the best and most rewarding part ist looking back at what you've achieved. Depending on what your goals are the review process can be continous, weekly, after 6 - 18 months or even after years. You will gain a lot of self-confidence and trust in yourself doing th review and it will help you start a new obsession. I always try to have something in every category - for example: Music is always in the perspective of years, being a guitarist or singer for 5 - 10 years and observing what changed over time, e.g. musical taste or live performance quality. Months, learning a new language - still struggling with Japanese, but compared to 18 months ago, I got a much better grasp on it. Daily routine would be something like picking up new insights via podcasts, exercise or meditate to name a few.

Are you an autodidact? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Sebastian