Taking the time to reflect and learn from my marketing career, I can easily say that it is mostly attributed to the skills I've learned on my own. I'm always curious, resourceful, and passionate about my interests - this equates to endless hours of researching, reading, learning, and applying what I've learned into actionable items for work and personal life. I'll be covering a couple of marketing examples but this post really applies to anyone who is interested in becoming self-taught.
When in the position to educate myself, something amazing happens - my motivation and desire to succeed takes the wheel to drive. It’s a wonderful personal achievement to increase my knowledge and skill sets on my own using the plethora of online resources to help guide me*. In general, I have a huge desire to learn about different topics and I like to take my time to learn at my own pace and in my own way. Thankfully, I am in a great situation with my current company when it comes to marketing as I have the flexibility and freedom to test ideas and learn by trial and error. I admit that I learn best when I fail as it leads me to an enlightened path of discovery and as soon as that happens, I try best to not repeat mistakes and use the lessons learned to improve my results for the next round.
I find that the most difficult part is actually finding the time to learn on my own - I have such little time in a day and am usually slammed with work, home & social life. I've learned that prioritizing and setting a small dedicated amount of time aside a few times each week works best for my learning style and schedule.
Learning on your own is rewarding but difficult to do. I'll share some lessons that I've learned and hope that it helps you with your own self-education experience:
SELF-TAUGHT TIPS & LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY EXPERIENCE
- Learn by helping others: Take the knowledge that you have learned to help out people who are in the same boat as you. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or expert in your area of study; the motivation to want to help others will reinforce you to learn and find the answers for those seeking help from you. It's a wonderful feeling - trust me.
- Be around the people who motivate you & who have the knowledge you wish to possess: I have amazing friends and mentors within marketing and other related industries who I regularly chat with and pick their brains to get their insight and advice. Having a different perspective other than your own makes you aware and well-rounded. It helps to see how other people are utilizing those learned skills. It's always great to bounce ideas back and forth, especially to those who have more knowledge than you on the topic you're interested to learn. Surrounding yourself around those who motivate you and who are experts in their field will open up your mind and inspire you.
- Believe in yourself: This is essential to being self-taught - you need to believe in yourself. It may be difficult and you may lose patience. You may have those who doubt you and your abilities but you have to keep trying and not let anything hold you back from achieving your goal. It's going to be hard but the more you keep at it, the more you will improve. Instead of letting doubt or failure scare you, embrace it as a opportunity to improve and become better.
- Prioritize what's important to you: If you're anything like me, you have a list of things you need to do and may find it hard to prioritize "learning a new skill" on that list. If you keep pushing it, it will never make it to the top of the list. On the other hand, you could have a number of skills you wish to learn on your bucket list and are scrambling on where to begin. Take a moment to figure out what you want to learn and at what level you're looking to achieve and then prioritize and set aside some time to dedicate to learning the new topic. For example, if you're interested in learning about social media marketing, do you want to learn the basics or go all the way to become advanced enough to become an expert? I mentioned above that it helps me to set aside some time each week to study a new skill, so I usually do it early in the morning before work, during lunch, or before I turn in for the night. Be sure to continuously 'check-in' often on the skill you're learning (at least at the beginning) or you'll slowly lose what you've learned and/or keep pushing it off your list.
- Challenge yourself: Learning on your own is already a big challenge but I'd highly suggest taking it up a notch by continuously asking yourself questions. Be sure to test yourself and apply your skills in real life scenarios to test out what you learned. That is the way to confirm that you truly understand the topic.
- Online resources*: The internet will be your best friend in the process of learning on your own and finding answers to most of your questions. It will keep you informed of any changes and updates in the topic you're looking to learn. It just takes a simple search on Google and you should find what you're looking for. Be sure to view the most recently dated post as things are always changing. For example, if you're learning SEO (search engine optimization), you do not want to read a post dated back in 2009 because SEO is constantly changing; what may have been practiced back then may not be the case in present time and if you're not careful you may be penalized by not keeping up with the latest updates.
With all of this in mind, I wish you great success! Just believe in yourself, don't give up, and continue to be passionate. You will do a great job and be one step closer to your goals. You will feel a great accomplishment knowing that you learned a new skill on your own.
*Note: For my next blog post, I'll cover a list of online education resources that I recommend. Stay tuned!