Becoming an expert at something

By Carlos Portocarrero

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Here’s a good article from a while back that I really like. Here’s what the article is about:

This article is not about how to fake being an expert, so it’s not some quick, easy thing you can do and then be way better at something tomorrow. It’s about actually becoming an expert, which will take time and effort. You can spend the time and effort, though, and fail to become an expert. Here’s how to spend it and succeed.

There are two steps to the process, according to Wisebread: the first one is getting your skill level up to a minimum where practice will actually make a difference. That means reading about your topic, getting familiar with the terms, etc.

For example, if you were learning to play the guitar you would train your fingers to gain that dexterity where they are able to move around the way you need them to. You would learn about reading music and maybe tabs, too.

It’s probably the hardest part because you’ll feel like an idiot throughout the process.

Then comes practice. Not just sitting in front of the TV with the guitar in your hand for three hours. The article distinguishes deliberate practice (the kind you are after) as:

  1. performing your skill (or, more typically, a piece of it)
  2. monitoring your performance
  3. evaluating your success
  4. figuring out how to do it better

You do that over and over again and eventually you’ll start to see some improvement.

The whole analogy carries over to the world of personal finance: Once you know the basics (of say, frugality) it takes some practice to make those changes permanent. Keeping track of your budget and figuring out how to continually meet it are other challenges.

While you may have to alter some of the lingo, try to apply this to something you’re trying to learn and see if it helps you or not. I can think of a few things that worked just like this in my past: baseball, writing, personal finance, the guitar (though I’ve lost the touch on that one), and running.

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