Learning a new skill systematically

4:46 PM



A guest post from the author of No Zombies Aloud.

Preparation is far more than squirreling away a little food and water: it’s getting ready for a new way of life. That means alongside our cans of corn and our bottled water, we should be stockpiling the kinds of skills that we think we’ll need in the future.  We should be learning to live our future life now, so when it arrives we can face it with confidence and help others make the transition.

When it comes time to learn a skill, however, it’s sometimes hard to get started.  There’s so much to learn, so many things that need to be done.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. So as with all things related to preparation, it’s good to start small. But it’s critical to get started.

The first step is to pick a broad subject you’d like to learn about. Take gardening as an example.  Storing food is good, but serving fresh, healthy food that you’ve grown yourself is even better. Gardening is still a huge subject. Some people garden their entire lives and never learn it all.  We’ll need to simplify.

So make a list of very specific things you’d like to do that relate to gardening. These are your goals. Maybe you love Italian food; write down that you’d like to grow your own oregano. Maybe you’ve always admired your neighbor’s roses; write down the names of some flowers you’d like to plant.  If your list is small, don’t worry about it – like your garden, it will soon grow out of control.  Circle the one that seems easiest – that’s where we’ll start.
Now for the fun part: it’s time to learn.  So let’s say you’ve decided to grow oregano. For a fast start, go to Youtube and search for “How to Grow Oregano.”  Watch a few videos, noting new words the instructors use, note the tools they use, and note the steps they take. Do they talk about soil management? Do they mention feeding and watering? Where will you get your seeds? Write down everything that’s new to you. Get a feel for the subject and become familiar with the terms.  Now when you pull that old garden book off the shelf or pick up a book from the library, you’ll know what it’s talking about because you’ll have seen it in action.

But before you go to the library to learn any more, get started!  “Wait, that’s crazy,” you say. “I don’t know enough yet.” Actually, you now know enough to get started.  If you’re going to grow something, plant it today, indoors if you must, following the instructions as best you can.

Every time you don’t know what to do, every time something doesn’t work – that’s the time to learn a new skill.  If your oregano doesn’t sprout, write “learn to sprout seeds” on your list and find a book that teaches how to make seeds sprout. Then when you successfully sprout them, take it off the “to learn” list – you now have that skill. If your seedlings shoot up and then wither, find a web page that explains why, then plant again.  Keep going until you serve your own homemade spaghetti sauce.

Every skill you learn makes learning the next one that much easier. If you can manage soil for herbs, you can manage it for potatoes.  If you can plant flowers, you can plant apple trees. As you fix your mistakes, you’ll grow your skills and your confidence.

Every prepper needs to grow her skillset, to be learning something new every day.  The best way to learn to do something is to do it, to fail at it, and to fix it.  An experienced person is one who has made all the mistakes already. A smart prepper is the one who makes all the mistakes today, while there is still time to fix them.  Get started!

Read more from El Borak at No Zombies Aloud.

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