Learning is incredibly fun. After having most of the joy sucked out of it at school, I’m slowly rediscovering my passion for self-directed study.
Add to that that the unlimited online skill development opportunities and there’s literally no excuse not to sign up for interesting courses.
Personally, I’m a fan of Udemy.
Although the courses are more expensive initially as opposed to a monthly subscription, they seem more comprehensive than their Skillshare equivalents, at least in the technology category.
Some also seem to be on special offer, providing quite the bargain.
I want to learn new skills
In no particular order, here are 12 top polymathic picks.
1. Public speaking
Perhaps one of the most powerful life skills to learn is public speaking.
Analyse any great leader and their ability to engage an audience with words is often evident, providing a potent vehicle for persuasion.
Pre-COVID, I’d been researching the possibility of joining my local Toastmasters group, offering weekly speaking practice with a live audience.
I’ve since researched online options and discovered UltraSpeaking, which looks good.
2. Touch typing
My mum is an excellent touch typer, and spending inordinate lockdown hours with my face glued to the computer, I see immense benefit in writing quickly and accurately.
Every morning I try to place my hands in the correct keyboard positions to familiarise myself with the keyboard layout and finger selection.
It’s slow work initially, but will hopefully pay dividends as my technique improves.
I’m currently doing a coding course on Udemy, born partly from personal interest, but also to develop my professional skills.
It’s certainly helping, not just in hard coding skills, but also stretching my mind in novel ways with new problem sets.
Coding seems, on the one hand, like a system of logic, requiring close analysis of the desired end result and subsequent reverse engineering.
However, there are multiple approaches to solve a problem, with creative thinking a crucial part of the mix.
A while ago I considered investing a little money in cypto, but shortly afterwards, the crypto bubble burst.
This digital gold volatility is frequently a Twitter hot topic, so a better grounding in the fundamentals might prove useful.
I’m considering follow-up lessons by my coding course instructor to understand the underlying principles of the currency.
Again, this would be useful professional skill.
When I’m working on a website and tweaking visual elements, I tend to get lost in the process and enter an immersive flow state.
However, my skills currently lag far behind my enthusiasm.
I don’t know which course is best, but perhaps Photoshop or Figma tutorials might prove useful.
I love wood as a material and its wonderful variance in appearance and texture.
Working with our hands is a natural human inclination, and yet as a society, we seem to be losing practical skills at an alarming rate.
Therefore, I’d like to offset some of my digital activities with analogue hobbies.
Prior to lockdown, I tried to book a basic carpentry course.
If no formal instruction is currently available, the next step might involve YouTube videos and self-experiment.
7. Motorbike mechanics
After buying a motorbike last year, I was peeved to immediately discover a series of mechanical problems keeping me off the road.
Not knowing where to start, I petitioned the help of a friend and mechanic to solve the issue.
Although it was annoying not to be able to ride, I did learn much more about bikes and their mysterious riddles.
This has encouraged me to develop my mechanical knowledge in case I ever break down in the back of beyond again.
Perusing Udemy’s online courses, a robotics course caught my eye.
It seems incredibly fun to play with electronics and build robots.
Maybe it was my fascination with watching Robot Wars when I was younger!
One of the main attractions is that the course is purposely aimed at teenagers, covering all the basics, which the instructor says are essential for adult learners alike.
Stimulating such childlike curiosity can only be good thing.
9. Guitar +/- singing
I’ve played the guitar badly for years and currently sit at an annoying level, where I can play most chords and learn solos through memorisation, but lack the real ability to improvise.
My playing feels wooden, with no natural feel for the instrument.
I feel I need a structured course to cover the essential theory and practice I’ve inevitably missed through self-education.
It would also be great to accompany the songs with some tuneful singing, but this might be a step too far.
It’s good to have a few party tricks up your sleeve.
Although I’m personally uncomfortable being the centre of attention, magic is a fun way to test these social waters, especially as the focus is on the performance rather than the person.
The ability to captivate onlookers with nifty sleight of hand and misdirection surely has extended applications beyond the raw skill, in terms of public speaking, psychology and persuasion.
I’ve loved juggling from a young age, primarily due to the feeling of flow it cultivates over the performative aspect.
Coordinating the simultaneous movement of balls requires a level of concentration that suspends the thinking mind.
Much like driving, however, it’s an activity that when learned, can prove incredibly relaxing.
I’ve always found three balls fairly easy, but progressing to four is whole new ballgame (pun intended), and it seems I’m a long way off.
This one’s more of a wish than a real want.
Like everyone, I love eating nice food – I just don’t find the culinary process that precedes it very enjoyable.
I’m sure this has something to do with an utter lack of skill.
If I were to learn even the rudimentary underpinnings of meal preparation, it would surely kindle an increasing interest in the subject.
I’ve heard that Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is one of the best books to buy for understanding the basics.
As a vegetarian, I’m sure that even a modest 10-20% increase in cooking skills would result not only in delicious dishes, but also in dietary improvement.
As you can see, my learning wish list is long and regrettably, there are only so many hours in the day.
I’m currently prioritising the completion of my coding course, but thereafter, will investigate one of the other options.
When you’re stuck deciding what to learn, consider a skill that has overlapping applications, including the enjoyment derived, potential personal growth or professional benefits, and future financial return.