How to Acquire New Skills

A large part of achieving both personal and professional success is learning new skills. All skills take time to learn, but you can simplify the process by setting goals and breaking the skill up into smaller steps. Practice every day and hold yourself accountable so you’ll be able to add that new skill to your repertoire in no time.

EditSelecting Your Skill
Think about skills that would benefit you. You may feel more motivated to learn a new skill if you pick something you think will benefit you in your work or daily life. Ask yourself if there are any skills that would help you get ahead at work, help you at school, or give you an advantage in your everyday life.[1]
Skills that many people find useful for their education and career include learning a new language, programming, photography, writing, public speaking, data analysis, and cooking.

List skills you would enjoy learning. Make a list of 5-10 skills that you think you’d enjoy learning. These don’t have to benefit your job or schoolwork directly, although they can. Just think about things you’ve found interesting or that you’ve always wanted to learn how to do.[2]
For example, have you always wanted to make your own scarf? If you have, then knitting or crocheting may be an enjoyable activity. Or, perhaps you want to learn how to play a new sport or take up a hobby like doing card tricks.

Calculate how much time you can devote to learning. Think about how much time you can devote on a daily or weekly basis to learning your new skill. If you don’t have a lot of extra time, a lower-commitment skill like learning to drive a manual car might be a good skill. If you have more time, a skill that takes a lot of practice, such as learning how to play an instrument, might be right for you.[3]
Pick a skill that you actually have time for right now. Picking a difficult skill and hoping you can learn it when you don’t have much time to practice is more likely to lead to you abandoning the skill.

Focus on a single skill at a time. Pay attention to learning one skill at a time rather than trying to master multiple skills at once. If you divide your attention, it will take longer for you to master your desired skill.[4]
This doesn’t mean you can’t learn lots of new skills. Just take the time to thoroughly learn the basics of one new skill before you move onto the next one.

EditGetting Started
Set a realistic goal. Your goal doesn’t need to represent your endpoint with the skill. It should, however, encourage you to grow and push yourself as you learn your new skill. If, for example, you want to learn web design, your goal may be to build yourself an online portfolio that you design from scratch.[5]
Don’t make your goal too lofty to start. If you want to learn to cook, don’t start with the initial goal of a 3-course meal. Instead, focus on learning how to make 1 dish really well. After you learn basic skills, you can learn more recipes and build up toward that meal.

Break your goal down into steps. Even reasonable goals can feel overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Start by breaking your goal down into small steps. The exact number of steps you’ll need will depend on your goal.[6]
Think about your steps like lessons. Each step should be small enough that you can achieve it in 1-2 lessons, but not so small that it’s not enough for a lesson unto itself. Remember, each step builds toward your goal. They may feel small now, but they’ll accumulate.

For example, if you’re learning photography, a good step would be learning how to adjust the settings on your camera. This can usually be learned easily, but it’s a bigger task than just learning to turn the flash on and off, which can usually be done in just a few seconds. Then, you can learn how to use light in photography, take still photos, take action photos, and edit photographs, for instance.

Choose a platform that fits your learning style. There are online tutorials, in-person classes, books, articles, and videos that can teach you all kinds of skills. Think about what learning platforms best enable you to absorb and apply new information.[7]
If you’re a visual learner, for example, try video tutorials instead of reading a text-only book or listening to a podcast on the subject.

Think about what is most conducive to your new skill, too. Learning a new language using only books, for example, may not be the best choice because the text alone doesn’t give you a good idea of word pronunciation and accents in everyday speech.

Find a mentor who is an expert in your skill to guide you through the process. The best tool in your journey to build a new skill is to find an expert to tutor you and help guide your progress. Reach out to an expert in your skill and set up a face-to-face meeting to talk to them about possible mentor opportunities.[8]
In some fields, mentoring is a formal process, while in other fields, it’s more organic. Do some research online to see how others learning your desired skill found a mentor.

For example, if you want to learn to use Microsoft Excel, ask a friend or family member who is familiar with the program to help you learn how to use it. If you want to learn to windsurf, you can hire an instructor with a lot of experience to teach you how to do it.

Set deadlines for yourself. Deadlines will help keep you accountable and help you stay on track. If you set a deadline without an external commitment, make sure you invest something in your deadline to keep you moving forward.[9]
If, for example, you say you’re going to be able to conjugate 10 verbs in Spanish by next week, reward yourself when you accomplish your goal. For instance, treat yourself to lunch or spend 1 hour doing something you love without feeling guilty.

If you want to make an external commitment for your deadline, you could try something like signing up for an open mic night to hold you to your goal of learning to play a song on the guitar.

EditBuilding Your Skill
Learn about the fundamentals of your skill. The first thing to do is understand the basics of the skill you want to learn. For instance, if you want to master tai chi, read about the history and development of this martial art. If you want to learn to change your own oil, spend some time learning about the function of oil in an engine and check out a diagram of your specific vehicle’s engine bay.[10]

Take courses and tutorials in your skill. Classes, workshops, and tutorials are great ways to help you build your skill and network with others learning the same skill. If you want consistent formal instruction, look for classes at your local community college, community center, or professional organization.[11]
You can also check with professional organizations, hobby groups, local businesses, and other organizations to see if they offer workshops or tutorials in your skill. These are usually 1-2 day events that help you focus on building a single aspect of your skill.

For example, if you are learning to cook, a local specialty food store may have a workshop on learning to cook make-ahead meals or cooking for college freshmen.

Start with the first step and move on as you master each portion. The only way to learn is by doing, so start trying out your new skill. Use the resources available to you, whether that may be reading a tutorial or having an expert walk you through the steps. Complete each step and ensure you understand it fully before moving on.
For instance, if your goal is to learn to type, begin by learning the home keys. Once you’ve mastered those, move on to the keys you type with your right hand, then the keys you type with your left hand.

Ask your mentor for help if you get stuck. Learning a new skill can be frustrating, but don’t give up when you hit a roadblock. Instead, seek help from an expert. Your mentor can explain what’s going wrong and help you correct the process so that you continue to make progress.[12]

Practice a little every day. Building any new skill takes time, so you must dedicate yourself to this endeavor. After you’ve learned a portion of your new skill, take time every day to practice what you’ve learned. This should be separate from the time you take to learn a new portion of your skill.[13]
For example, if you’re learning to play the piano, set aside an hour a day to practice: 30 minutes to review chords you’ve already learned and an additional 30 minutes to learn new chords.

The exact amount of time you’ll need to practice each day will depend on the skill your learning, as well as your personal learning style.

The best way to learn is to do. Regardless of how unprepared you feel, make sure you are continually physically engaged.

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Today in History for 31st December 2018

Historical Events

1229 – James I of Aragon the Conqueror enters Medina Mayurqa (Palma) consummating Christian conquest of the island of Majorca
1695 – A window tax is imposed in England, causing many shopkeepers to brick up their windows to avoid the tax.
1963 – Dear Abby show premieres on CBS radio (runs 11 years)
1972 – Australian Open Women’s Tennis: Margaret Court beats Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6-4, 7-5 for her record 11th and final Australian singles crown
1976 – TV soap “Somerset” ends 6 year run
1997 – Marv Levy, retires as coach of Buffalo Bills

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1514 – Andreas Vesalius [Andries van Wesel], Flemish-Netherlandish physician and anatomist (De humani corporis fabrica), born in Brussels, Belgium (d. 1564)
1881 – Colin G Fink, American chemist (electro chemistry), born in Hoboken, New Jersey
1902 – Lionel Daunais, Quebec singer and composer, born in Montreal, Canada (d. 1982)
1956 – Steve Rude, American comics artist, born in Madison, Wisconsin
1964 – Michael McDonald, American actor-comedian, born in St. Louis, Missouri
1964 – Klari MacAskill, Canadian kayaker (Olympics-5-92, 96), born in Budapest, Hungary

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1799 – Jean-François Marmontel, French historian and writer, dies at 76
1864 – George Mifflin Dallas, American politician (11th Vice President of the United States) and United States Minister to Russia, dies at 72
1967 – Arthur Mailey, cricketer (10-66 and Aust v Gloucestershire 1921), dies
1968 – George Louis Francis Lewis, composer, dies at 16
2005 – Enrico di Giuseppe, American tenor, dies at 73
2007 – Milton L. Klein, Canadian politician (b. 1910)

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How to Make Mochi Ice Cream

Mochi ice cream is the perfect, compact dessert to grab and eat on a hot summer day. The traditional Japanese treat involves wrapping your favorite flavor of ice cream with mochi, which is a sweet rice flour dough. You do not have to go all the way to Japan to experience this glorious round dessert. Instead, make it yourself. Grab an ice cream flavor of your choice, rice flour, and a cupcake tin to get started.

Ice cream flavor of your choice—at least 2 cups (300 g)

¾ cup (90 g) of shiratamako or glutinous rice flour

of water

¼ cup (50 g) of superfine sugar

½ cup (80 g) of cornstarch or potato starch

EditPreparing the Ice Cream
Choose an ice cream with a thick consistency to use for the mochi balls. Thick ice cream will harden nicely inside of the mochi balls and won’t melt as quickly. The flavor, brand, or type of ice cream you use is entirely up to you and your preferences. Use a single flavor of ice cream, or use a different flavor for each mochi ball.[1] You will need at least 2-3 cups (300-450 g) of ice cream to make 10 mochi balls, so purchase a standard ½ gallon (1,200 g) container of ice cream.

Pick traditional vanilla or chocolate ice cream for a simple taste.

Experiment with more complicated flavors like mint chocolate chip, rocky road, or cookie dough.

Use strawberry, matcha, or black sesame ice cream for a savory taste that is more traditional to mochi ice cream sold in Japan.

Use plastic wrap to individually line 10 cups in the cupcake tin. The plastic wrap will keep the ice cream from sticking to the tin. This will work best if your cupcake tin has rounded cups instead of the flat, oval-shaped ones.[2] Instead of a cupcake tin, you can use the bottom portion of an egg carton or an ice cube tray that has large, round cups.

Put 1/4 cup (33 g) of ice cream into each of the 10 cupcake tin cups. Get a full, round scoop of the ice cream to make handling it later easier. Use an additional spoon to help properly fill the ice cream scoop and empty it into the cups if needed.[3] If your ice cream is particularly hard, it will be difficult to get full scoops. Allow the ice cream to soften at room temperature for 2-5 minutes.[4]

Cover the tin with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Gently, form the plastic wrap around each scoop of ice cream to prevent it from developing ice crystals. Let the ice cream sit in the freezer for at least 2 hours or until the scoops are firm to touch.[5]
EditMixing the Mochi
Mix ¾ cup (90 g) rice flour and ¼ cup (50 g) of sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the shiratamako or glutinous rice flour into the bowl first, and then stir in the superfine sugar. Continue to stir the ingredients until they are blended and free of lumps. Once you get more comfortable with making the mochi ice cream, you can experiment by adding additional ingredients to the mochi batter. Some people prefer to add a pinch of salt to the batter, or even 1 tsp (2 g) of matcha (green tea powder) or a strawberry puree.[6]
The bottom of microwave-safe bowls will either directly say, “Microwave Safe” or will have a symbol resembling a microwave with wavy lines across it.[7]

Whisk of water into the bowl. Slowly add the water to the dry ingredients. Continue whisking the mixture together until it becomes a smooth batter.[8] If the batter is too thin or watery, add 1/2 tbsp (4.25 g) of rice flour to thicken it. For batter that seems dry, add of water to moisten it. Increase the increments of flour or water as need until your batter is smooth.[9]

Rest a lid on the bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Crack the lid on the bowl so that the contents can ventilate and do not build up air pressure. The microwave will thicken and cook the mochi so it becomes a sticky dough for you to cover your ice cream balls with.[10]
Stir the mochi and microwave it with a cracked lid for another 1 ½ minutes. Use a rubber spatula to stir and aerate the mochi. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl so the mochi doesn’t start to burn or dry out. After microwaving the batter, it should be cooked and resemble a sticky dough.[11] The bowl will be hot when you take it out of the microwave, so handle it with care and use potholders.

Sprinkle your clean counter with corn or potato starch. The starch, whether corn or potato, will keep the mochi from sticking to your counter when you roll it out. Don’t worry about wiping the starch off your hands. Having some on your hands will actually be beneficial and keep the dough from sticking to your skin as you handle it.[12] Have ½ cup (80 g) of cornstarch or potato starch set off to the side of your workspace. Use as much or a little of the starch as you want. Don’t be afraid sprinkle the counter with more if needed.

Form the mochi into a ball and place it on the counter. Sprinkle it with more starch so it won’t stick to your rolling pin when you go to roll it out. Be careful when first handling the mochi. It will most likely be hot. Remove the lid and allow it to cool off enough for you to be able to touch it without burning yourself.[13]
Use a rolling pin to spread out the mochi into a thin sheet. Make the sheet of mochi about thick. Work from the center of the dough outwards to keep the edges of the sheet from getting too thin. The center of the dough should roughly be the same thickness as the edges of the dough. The sheet can be a rough circle or rectangle shape, as either will work well when cutting the mochi.[14] If you are worried the mochi will stick to your rolling pin, rub some of the starch onto the rolling pin as well.

Cut out 10 circles using a round cookie cutter. Prevent the mochi from sticking to the cookie cutter by rubbing starch on it. Start at one side of the mochi sheet and work your way over to the other side. If you have to, gather the mochi scraps and roll it back out again so you can cut out more circles.[15] If you do not have a round cookie cutter, you can coat the rim of a glass and use that instead.[16]

Put the mochi discs onto a baking sheet and chill them in the refrigerator. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap to keep the mochi from drying out in the refrigerator. Check on the mochi discs after 30 minutes to see if they are cold to touch. If the mochi discs are still warm, allow them to continue chilling in the refrigerator.[17] Once the mochi discs are fully chilled, you are ready to begin assembling the mochi ice cream balls.

EditCovering the Ice Cream
Line your counter with a small piece of plastic wrap. Cut the piece of plastic wrap so it is at least twice the size of the mochi ball. The plastic wrap will be used to individually package the finished mochi balls.[18] You can reuse one of the plastic wrap pieces you used to cover the ice balls. But if the piece of plastic wrap is damaged or if it does not look big enough to cover the entire ball, get a new piece to line the counter.

Place an ice cream ball on a mochi circle and rest it on the plastic wrap. Use a spoon or your fingers to quickly place the ice cream in the center of the mochi sheet. Either hold the mochi sheet in the palm of your hand or have the sheet already resting on the plastic wrap to do this. Pick which method is easiest for you.[19] Handle the ice cream as little as possible to keep it from melting before you wap it in the mochi. Leave the cupcake tin with the rest of the balls in the freezer to keep those from melting while you work.[20]

Lift the edges of the mochi circle to cover the ice cream ball. Stretch the mochi sheet with your fingers as needed to cover the entire ice cream ball. The chilled dough may be tough to stretch at first so be patient.[21]
Pinch the dough edges closed at the top of the ice cream ball. The covered ice cream ball will roughly resemble a cinched coin purse. Smooth out the puckered edges along the top with your finger. Be careful not to tear the mochi dough while doing this. If there is a lot of extra dough pinched at the top of the ice cream ball, use scissors to cut away the extra dough. Save the excess dough in case you need to patch a hole or cover a thin spot while making the rest of the mochi balls.[22]

Package the mochi ball with the plastic wrap to keep the dough fresh. Cover the entire mochi ball with the plastic wrap, so that none of the dough is exposed. The plastic wrap will keep the dough from drying out in the freezer, and will also help the ball maintain its shape until the ice cream and dough firm up.[23]
Rest the packaged mochi ball in the cupcake tin in the freezer. Place any obvious seams in the plastic wrap casing down into the cup. This will keep the plastic wrap from peeling off the mochi ball as it freezes.[24] Repeat this process until the remaining 9 ice cream balls are all covered with mochi and packaged in plastic wrap.

Allow the mochi balls to finish firming in the freezer for 2 hours. This will give the handled ice cream a chance to harden. When you are ready to eat a mochi ice cream ball, let the ball sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to allow the mochi dough to soften so you do not hurt your teeth when you bite into it.[25]
Have fun experimenting with the ratio of mochi to ice cream. Larger ice cream balls are easier to wrap than smaller ones since smaller ice cream portions will soften quicker.[26]
Consider using 2 thick discs of the mochi to make ice cream sandwiches instead of wrapping the entire ice cream ball with a single disc of mochi.[27]
EditThings You’ll Need
Ice cream scoop

Cupcake/muffin tin, an ice cube tray, or the bottom portion of an egg carton

Plastic wrap

Microwave-safe bowl with a lid

Rubber spatula


Rolling pin

Round cookie cutter or glass—about in diameter

Baking sheet

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Make an Ice Cream Cake

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Make Ice Cream with a Bag

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