“Perhaps this is the time to learn Spanish or take up the mandolin” said a friend in the middle of March as we were facing lockdown.
It might have been said tongue in cheek, but it demonstrates the right mentality, whether that be now or at any other time. Learning is important, it keeps us relevant, it retains our youth and it exercises our mind.
I read an article recently on Medium about timeless skills to learn in under 8 hours.
Yes, that’s right 8 hours!
It’s a great heading to draw you in, and the reality is that it takes longer than 8 hours, but the point is that in 8 hours you can start the ball rolling in a significant way to start developing and learning new skills. And there are some good suggestions of new skills.
Learning to learn
Forming good habits
Co-ordination and flexibility
It made me realise though that over the past couple of months I have made a start on some of these, and I thought I’d share my progress.
I have always enjoyed reading and writing but have not always been the most confident about it, a confidence that has been knocked lower over the last few years with criticism being offered frequently. It took me setting up Shona Crawford Consultancy and creating my website to start exploring and enjoying writing again.
What is writing doing for me?
Quite simply writing is allowing me to find my voice and give me clarity on who I am and where I want to go. I hope that occasionally you might find something of interest, that sparks a thought or brightens your day, in amongst my scribbles.
How have I been writing?
I have started small, trying not to overthink my writing. I get the words down quickly, I make them public, unless they are for a specific client engagement, and sometimes I reflect and think I could have done it differently. I take these reflections into the next thing I write.
Am I enjoying the experience?
Enjoying writing would be an understatement, I am loving it, it is letting me find my voice and getting my thoughts down. It is so refreshing not having to parrot a line that you don’t necessarily agree with. Yes, I am sure that sometimes my grammar isn’t up to scratch, but my words are genuine, my views are mine and it is giving me a medium to shape thoughts and develop ideas.
I have written 4 children’s books - short stories aimed at under 7’s. Just need to get them published now!
I have started planning a more serious book. It has the working title “Life’s Tough, So What Are You Going To Do About It?”
But with my mind so busy, I have also been learning how to clear my thoughts, get rid of the clutter and enjoy the quiet. This is hard for me. I don’t sleep well, I am frequently up through the night, I love lists and organisation and my mind whirs all the time. I tend to read to calm my mind, but often this leads to more thoughts and even more clutter.
To find out how best to approach this for me, as I was overwhelmed with the options, I spoke to an expert and asked for her guidance. She helped me cut through the noise and get straight to the point, sorting out my sleeping and bringing peace to my mind during the night, allowing me to function better during the day.
To do all of this I was pointed towards Bethany Auriel-Hagan. Have a look at her site, there is so much more than just sleeping help there, but for me the app that has proven most valuable has been ‘The Dream For Sleep’.
Well I thought I was OK on this one after years of negotiating contracts, salaries, hedging funds, and more. Wrong! Home schooling just came along and I am finding out negotiation has hit a whole new level.
I am looking on it as a refresher course, touching up my skills. It is definitely testing my resolve, and bribery is being used.
Let’s call this one a work in progress.
Co-ordination and Flexibility
The article on Medium was probably referring to business related skills when they suggested ‘Co-ordination and Flexibility’ as a new skill to learn. However, I am taking my own meaning from this and applying it to fitness.
I run lots, and I love it, but I never stretch, I just don’t have the patience for it. But I know that this lack of stretching is affecting my co-ordination and flexibility, increasing my race times and ultimately reducing my enjoyment of the sport I love. The sport I use to clear my head and think about life.
So, I am using the time I have now to introduce other fitness activities that will help improve my co-ordination and flexibility, and my great friend Lois Simpson is helping me with this.
Like me, Lois opted for a change at the start of the year. She left her job in education and started her own Fitness business, Move It, turning passion into work. Like the rest of us though Lois is having to cope with homeworking and with the wonders of Zoom, she is now training everyone online.
You should check her out – it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, Lois can train you.
So, What Are You Going To Learn?
Back at the beginning I said that learning keeps us relevant, retains our youth and exercises our mind.
I’m not sure yet what the next thing is going to be for me, but I do know that the last couple of months have proved that 8 hours is definitely enough to get the ball rolling and start learning.
My key take-out would be to just pick something, give it a go, and if it’s not for you, move on to the next thing.
And to finish
I said that I write quickly, trying not to overthink what I’m writing.
Well, time to write this piece was less than an hour. I know this because I joined the queue for the Wickes online store before I started and it said wait time is 1 hour, and as I finish, I am still not in the shop!
Good luck with your learning, and most importantly, enjoy.