Stages of learning
Over time, I realized there are five stages of learning.
- “Oh! This is possible?!”
- “Ah, so that’s how you solve this”.
- “This is good. I need to learn this”.
In the awareness stage, you learn about a problem. And you realize you need to find a solution.
Panic might come to some people. This depends on how much pressure you put on yourself. If you pressure yourself hard, you’ll get into panic mode.
If you set a deadline for learning, you’re giving yourself pressure. Most people don’t realize this. They set an ambitious deadline for themselves and they fail hard.
If you set a deadline to learn something, that deadline you set is probably ambitious. It’s ambitious because learning usually takes more time and effort than you account for.
If you put too much pressure on yourself, you may get overwhelmed. You may look for shortcuts instead of actually learning what you’re supposed to learn.
When panic/overwhelm sets in, we tend to avoid what we’re doing.
- “I can’t do this right now”
- “I’m not smart enough”
- “I need a break”
- “Life happens”
We give ourselves excuses permission to drop the thing we’re learning.
It’s okay to pause for a breather if you can’t catch your breath. We all need a breather sometimes. But it’s not okay to give up. (Unless you decide it’s something you never wanted to do for the rest of your life. In which case, giving up is a good choice).
The unfortunate thing is: Some people never realize they’re avoiding. They search the internet, hoping to find “good tutorials” that’ll teach them everything they need to know. And they use “I can’t find any good tutorials” as an excuse not to learn.
This is where you accept you bit off more than you can chew, and decide to chew it anyway. You accept the tough challenge ahead. And you prepare to face it head-on.
For most people, it’s when they say “I’m going to fucking learn this no matter what”.
This is when we dedicate the necessary resources, time, and energy to learn the thing we need to learn.
If you get into this mode, anything you learn stays with you for a long time. Before this stage, you don’t actually learn. You may remember something for a short while, but you’ll forget about it quickly.
And so learning begins.
We read everything we need to read.
We do everything we need to do.
We code if we have to.
We think if we have to.
We get our hands dirty if we have to.
Learning is like a marathon. There’s no best pace. All we have is the pace we’re comfortable with. And the pace changes according to our states.
- If we go too slow, we get bored.
- If we go too fast, we get into an overwhelmed or panic state.
So what’s important is to pace yourself. Take it step by step. Go slow if you’re running out of breath, and run faster if you’re getting bored.
At a certain point, we may decide we learned enough.
And learning stops.
Mastery is a continuous process where you learn more and more things about the same subject. You get deeper into the subject and you’re able to sieve out the nuances.
Mastery comes with repeated learning. It comes with going through the five stages over and over again.
With enough time, you’ll become a master one thing.