If you want to improve in almost anything, the first thing you need is to dedicate your time and effort to it. Then with enough time, it is virtually impossible to stay at the same level when you first started.
It is also vital to understand that long-term improvement will not happen overnight and that every “overnight success” took years or even decades.
Though improvement will greatly depend from person to person, there are times when you will have to implement several principles that worked out for other people in the past.
However, it is crucial to understand that everyone has their limitations, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional.
But don’t be afraid of taking a few misses in your quest to be more proficient in the things you want to learn.
Here are 12 principles and tips you can try to improve almost anything.
1. Get 1% Better Every Day
The concept of 1% better every day is widely attributed to James Clear, the author of the best-selling book Atomic Habits. He argues that to get better in anything, you need continuous improvement and implement small positive changes and modifications in your life.
The concept is also where the famous get 37.78% better in a year is derived. By finding an incremental 1% improvement in what you want to develop, you are setting up a snowball or compounding effect that can change your life.
In contrast, deteriorating 1% daily for a year will be the opposite of improvement and can even be detrimental. You will be worse in what you do.
You can implement the 1% Better Every Day concept in almost every aspect of your life, like your physical health, mental state, finances, relationship, and more.
2. Use the 80/20 Principle
The 80/20 Principle, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that 80% of consequences are caused by only 20% of the input.
This was initially observed in the context of wealth and population in Italy. Pareto examined that 80% of the land was only owned by 20% of the people, which was also applicable in other countries.
For instance, in any business, only 80% of the sales come from only 20% of the salespeople. In the workplace, 80% of the work is shouldered by only 20% of the employees.
There may be areas of self-improvement where you can identify the 20% of skills needed to get an 80% output.
3. Follow Feynman’s Technique
This is the learning method of one of the most extraordinary learners of all time, the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, which he broke into four simple steps.
1. Choose a concept that you want to learn.
2. Teach it to a kid.
3. Reflect, refine, and simplify.
4. Organize and review.
As a teacher, I use this technique to simplify my lessons and find the best ways to understand a topic deeper so I can teach the subject simpler.
You can implement this learning technique in almost any field you want to learn, especially if you’re going to teach or write about it.
4. Maximize the first 20 hours
You may have heard or read that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. However, since the purpose of this post is to improve, it should not take that long.
Josh Kaufman, the author of The First 20 Hours, learned that it only takes 20 hours for rapid skills acquisition. So, he is saying that in less than 3 days, you can have a working knowledge of whatever skills you want to learn.
But the 20 hours is not just some random practice. It should be systematic. First, you must deconstruct a complex skill, identify the areas you need to learn and remove your learning obstacles, and of course, deliberate practice.
5. Practice Deliberately
The quantity of practice does not always determine that you can improve. It also needs to be done deliberately where the quality of the practice is more important.
When applying deliberate practice, you need to find the specific skills you want to work on, find ways to improve them and focus.
We live in a very distracted world, where finding time to be still and focus is almost impossible. However, if you want to improve in anything you want, you need to be laser-focused.
Put your phone away or place it in silent or airplane mode to avoid unnecessary distractions. You may also use the Pomodoro technique and other focusing strategies when learning a new skill.
Multitasking is also a no-no. It is simply switchtasking. Stop thinking that you can actually perform two or more tasks effectively. Focus on one at a time.
7. Law of Averages
According to author Jim Rohn, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, derived from the law of averages.
If you want to be successful in business, you must be in the constant presence of people already in that realm. If you want to be more mindful of your spending habits, then you need to be with people who are wise spenders.
So, if you want to improve in a specific category of your life, the people you spend the most time with must also be improving in that area.
8. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
This is a learning theory by Lev Vygotsky that is very important if you want to improve in anything. This is the place between what you can do easily and without assistance and what you will need assistance and guidance.
According to this theory, you need to find the right space that is not too easy enough that you will be bored, but not too hard that you will lose interest out of frustration or need help from others.
So, when practicing to improve a particular skill, you need to find the “sweet spot.”
9. Learning Transfer
Learning transfer involves deconstructing a concept into its fundamental principles, then using those concepts in other applications.
Learning transfer is one of my favorite learning strategies that I unknowingly used without knowing the name before I read about it in an article about Elon Musk’s learning technique.
As a generalist and multipotentialite, I also wanted to learn many things. So it’s a good thing that this concept exists.
Mentors are essential to anyone who wants to learn about almost anything. They can help us shorten the learning curve by sharing the critical points and lessons they experienced throughout their journey while avoiding their mistakes.
It is also unnecessary to constantly talk to your mentors. They can include the people you regularly talk to, the books you read, the people you follow on social media, and the anti-mentors.
Your mentor doesn’t need to know that you consider them your mentor.
11. Feedback Loop
Feedback is another crucial component for constant improvement. You need to be prepared to accept positive feedback and negative feedback and use them as a way to further improve yourself.
Positive feedback is easy to accept because it feels good. However, what if you receive negative feedback? How will you respond to it? Will you be mad, or will you thank the person who made a comment?
Welcome both types of feedback to integrate into your system and continue to improve.
12. Apply the concepts and be consistent.
Lastly, one of the most important factors for improvement is to apply them and be consistent. Knowledge is not enough. We also need to use them.
Consistency will also play a crucial role in your improvement journey. It doesn’t have to always be 100%. The important part of consistency is showing up. Though you can’t do your best today, as long as you make an improvement, it is still a win.
There are so many areas of improvement in our lives that we need to constantly monitor through our own or other people’s observations.
Start with your strengths because it is easier to improve on that area, and let others complement your weaknesses.
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