You’ve probably made self-learning plans in the past but had difficulty in sticking with them. The good news is, you can always start over.
The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to prepare a list of things you hope to achieve. But for dreams to come true, they must be translated into specific goals with a clear and measurable time frame.
If you are a student, or a graduate looking to develop your skills, you probably aspire to be more productive in the new year. Increasing the rate of self-learning is the ideal way to achieve this ambition.
Following are nine steps that will help you identify your goal, create a self-learning plan for achieving it, and commit to seeing the plan through.
1. Determine your goal.
The most important thing in any self-learning plan is to know two things: where are you now, and where do you want to go?
First, define your current state in some detail. Reflect on your educational and career situation, identifying the things you do well and the things you still want to learn properly.
Second, determine the goal you want to reach, and a specific time frame for achieving it.
Perhaps your goal is to increase your skills in your academic field, or to advance in your job, or to change your field completely and enter a new field that matches your passion. By specifying what the goal of self-learning is, you will save a lot of time and effort that may be wasted on things that will not benefit you.
2. Decide what you want to learn.
“To make a plan for self-learning, first define your current state in some detail. Reflect on your educational and occupational status, and identify the things you do well and the things you still want to learn properly.”
Identifying the field that you want to learn, in general, is not enough. You must also specify the part that you want to learn in this field. It is not enough to say, I want to learn programming, or graphic design, or marketing. All of these are broad areas that include a lot of specializations. In each, there are many parts that you must learn separately.
To determine your next step, look back to how you defined your current situation in Step 1: Are you a complete beginner? Or do you have some previous experience? Is your expertise average? Or you have a lot of experience and are looking for more professionalism in your field? With that in mind, you can set a more specific goal, such as: I want to learn the basics of Facebook advertising, PHP programming or design by using Illustrator, etc.
3. Decide how you will learn.
After you have identified your learning objective and what you want to learn, you must determine how you intend to learn. Is the content you want to learn available in books? Or is it available in education centers in your city? Or can you learn it through online courses? The Internet is an excellent option for self-learning, with its ease of choosing the right time to learn, and the provision of great educational content.
You can view the most prominent Arab and international e-learning platforms at a resource provided by Al-Fanar Media, “A Guide to Top Platforms for Online Courses”.
Browse educational websites in this resource and search for courses in your specialization. You will see many results. Choose the courses that are appropriate for you, and your level in the educational field. Read the content of each course carefully to know which is the best place for you to start.
4. Choose an appropriate template for your self-learning plan.
The study plan may be daily, weekly, or monthly. Search online for a template that works for you. You may combine more than one type, meaning that you specify the topics you want to study in the monthly plan, define more details in the weekly plan, and finally define the very fine details in the daily plan.
You can choose between paper or electronic forms. If you prefer a paper form, you can download and print one. Or you can search for a suitable mobile application using the keywords: “Study planner”.
5. Don’t fool yourself. … Set times for entertainment.
“You developed a self-learning plan with some enthusiasm, stuck to it for a while, and then your enthusiasm waned and you gave in to randomness. It’s OK. Just start over.”
Many students make a mistake when developing a learning plan. They fill in the plan times with the names of subjects or lessons, and do not take into account other activities like eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, or entertainment. Begin your schedule by identifying times during which you are certain that you will be busy. Also identify time for entertainment, which is necessary so that you may regain your energy and complete your studies with a clear mind.
6. Reward yourself for completing each part of the learning plan.
Set a small reward for each amount you accomplish from the self-learning plan. This could be a meal or a drink you like, a piece of candy, some popcorn, or a few minutes of walking. Choose what suits you.
Also, make sure you tick each item on your self-learning plan as you complete it. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue.
7. Set specific times for updating your plan periodically.
Choose a specific day to plan your learning during the week. It may be an evening or the weekend. Also choose a specific time each day to plan for the next day. It may be before you go to sleep. Make sure you don’t go to sleep before you decide what to do the next day, or else your day will go by without any accomplishment, and you will find yourself busy with a lot of frivolous things.
8. Review your plan periodically and adjust it for emergencies.
Plans are made to be changed. You make a self-learning plan, then life surprises you with new data. It’s OK. This is normal. Good planners are the ones who develop their plans all the time to fit new data. Always make sure to review and develop your learning plan according to changes in your schedule. The important thing is not to remain without a plan.
9. Stick to your learning plan.
You put together a self-learning plan with some enthusiasm, stick to it for a while, and then your enthusiasm wanes and you gave in to randomness. Don’t despair, this is normal. Don’t let your failure for a while doom you to failure forever. Renew your enthusiasm, adjust your plan and start over.
One thing to help you to stick to something is to have the plan in place from the start with enough time for rest, entertainment, and other activities. Also, one of the things that helps you stick to the plan is to share it with a friend who shares the same curriculum and to track your progress together.