Learning something new can be a major exercise in frustration if you don’t have a good strategy. Almost to the point you don’t want to learn about the topic after all.
Probably two or three times, or more, a year I get a wild hair and want to learn about a completely new subject, or hobby. I have no idea why that is. I used to spend a long time trying to get a good grasp on the topic, ultimately to drop it because it wasn’t interesting.
I now have come up with a process that narrows it down to several hours instead of weeks to get me to the same result. I have used this method countless times, and had consistent results each time.
So in this podcast I walk you through the steps I go through, and why. Hopefully it can help you when you want to learn something new.
If you prefer to watch
Hello, and welcome to the 22nd episode of the Buddiy Podcast. Today, we’re going to talk about and go through the formula that I use to learn something new, specifically gearing towards a new hobby or a new subject that I don’t know much about. But before that, if you’re watching on YouTube, please feel free to hit subscribe. If you want to listen to it in a podcast application, we’re available on most major platforms, just search for Buddiy. B-U-D-D-I-Y and you’re fine. Hit the website at buddiy.net and sign up for the email newsletter.
So with that, let’s jump into our first segment and that is, what’s going on around here. Well, this week was kind of crazy for me. I had a couple of long work days trying to get some stuff wrapped up and so that really kind of put a hamper on personal projects. That was kind of frustrating, but something fun did happen. I met up with a friend who’s getting into woodworking and we went to a wood dealership or wood… now that I can’t even think of the type of name… a lumberyard, there we go, in Tulsa called Dakota Hardwoods. They just opened up in March. And so that was a lot of fun.
I bought my first piece of maple that isn’t perfectly cut like you would buy at say Home Depot or Lowe’s. And so I get to dial-in and learn more about the planer and the jointer, or make sure I get those dialed in so that I can take this $80, $90 piece of wood and actually do something good with it and not mess it up. So that’s going to be a lot of fun. I really liked it. I love the look of Walnut and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to actually get to use it in a project instead of buying oak and pine and making it look like walnut.
Also had a lot of fun that day just kind of walking my friend through how to use a table saw and dial-in some of the stuff on the table saw and give him a jump forward in learning that I went through on my own without a lot of help. Hopefully lowered his learning curve a little bit, which would be really awesome. And I got to see some of the projects he’s been working on. He’s doing an amazing job getting started woodworking. I show my wife the stuff he posts on Instagram and I’m like, “He’s just doing a really good job at this. And I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.” He has a really good eye for getting stuff done well.
So let’s go ahead and jump into the main segment of the day and that is to go through the formula that I use to learn something new. More specifically, when I want to learn about a new hobby or a new activity that I want to do. So a lot of times when we want to learn something new, we don’t know where to start in learning about it. We don’t know what to do, how to do, and we don’t even know what we don’t know. And that’s the really frustrating part is trying to figure out what we don’t know, so that we know how to find and get to the places that we need to go to be able to learn more. And so I’ve come up with a formula over the years that I use to learn about something new and to get an idea of where I need to go and what I need to do, and the people I need to figure out and get into contact with so I can learn more.
I want to put a caveat on this. This is does not make me an expert, and this does not actually teach me how to do anything. It just teaches me about whatever the topic is and gives me a good understanding so then I can actually have a conversation with somebody as a beginner and use some of the same lingo that they use. I also have a vector that I can go down to understanding research and things that they tell me, so that it’s not all over my head, because if you’ve ever had someone that’s like, “Hey, so programming,” I’m going to use programming as an example, when I hear somebody come up to me and they’re like, “Hey, I want to learn about programming.” I’ll start telling them a bunch of stuff and they’re just kind of like deer in the headlights. And even though I think it’s basic and really, really, really easy to understand, it’s still a little more understanding than what they have of programming. And so I’ve got to notch it down even more.
Whereas after this type of research that I’m going to walk you through, it elevates you a little bit, that they can use some of that verbiage and things and you can have an understanding of where to go and what to learn. So really there’s about seven or eight things that I do. And the very first thing I do is I open up Google or DuckDuckGo or Bing, or whatever, I open up a search engine and I type in the very first thing that people really go for on SEO, and that is the ultimate guide to blah. So in this case, I’m going to use sewing in the example, because I know nothing about sewing and that’s going to force me to not try to go into details about whatever the topic is, because this formula that I go through, I probably use it three or four times a year on something new. And it does multiple things.
One, if I make it through this process, then that tells me that I am still interested in the process and I might want to continue down the path. Two, if I get through the end I know if I don’t want to do something, I know if I don’t want to pursue that thing. As an example, I like playing chess. I don’t want to get really deep into chess. So I went through this exercise and by the time I got to the end of the exercise, I’m like, “I don’t care about chess anymore beyond casually playing it every now and then. I’m not going to research it anymore. I’m not going to look up moves and strategies and books and all this other stuff. It just has no interest to me,” and things like that.
So by the time I get to the end of this research progress, I know I don’t want to do that anymore. Plus I have a set of knowledge that I can pass on to others and kind of give them pointers in the future, and I can tell them why I’m not interested in it anymore. The other thing is, in some cases, it puts me in the know more about a topic than even some people that casually do it. And it can flip their, when you have a conversation, it can flip their thinking about you in this thing that you’re not dumb, you’re not an idiot, and they’re more willing to share what they have because it’s like, “Hey, you’re actually interested in this.” And so they’re going to give you more details potentially when you go to talk about something.
So it gives you a base of knowledge. And like I said, in some cases there’ve been things that in my few hours of research, I’ve learned more about a topic than some people that have been doing it for years. So it’s kind of interesting, but again, this only teaches you about the topic, not how to do the topic. So in this case, again, we’re going to go sewing. So the first thing I would Google is the ultimate guide to sewing. SEO person’s dream whenever they’re writing an article. Or I’ll search for a beginner’s guide to sewing. And then the next thing I’ll do is 10 things to know before starting sewing and 10 things that I wish I knew before I started sewing, any kind of number of combinations of that. You do eight, nine, or some other thing, but basically all the things that people try to hit to get those SEO points in a sense, to try to get you to click bait to articles.
And what you’re going to do is you’re probably going to read 20 or 30 of the articles across all of those search terms. And you’re going to start getting a frame of reference to understand things, in this case about sewing. You’re going to start seeing words repeated. You’re going to start seeing topics repeated. You’re going to start seeing theories repeated. You’re actually not going to get a lot of good information in my opinion from doing this, but you’re going to start seeing trends. What you’re going to want to do is you’re going to want to start writing down trends that you see. And I use a note-taking application called Joplin, and I’ll just start writing down terms. I’ll start writing down trends. I’ll start writing down concepts that I run across. If something sounds weird, I’ll write that down so I can reference it later, but I start getting an understanding of what’s going on. And I start putting myself in the frame of mind of the person that wrote it.
And that way I can start discerning a couple of minor things about, in this case, sewing, but not really a lot of good information, but I’m starting to get concepts and some of the basic theory. The next thing I do is go back to the search engine and start looking up equipment. So I’m going to search for best sewing equipment for beginners, worst sewing equipment for beginners, equipment that I wish I had bought as a beginner, equipment that I wish I would not have bought. I’m also going to look up sewing machine buying guides, and I want to kind of preface this, sewing machine buying guides, the only purpose for sewing machine buying guides is for you to buy a sewing machine from them so that they can make revenue.
That’s the only purpose that buying guides exist. While they want you to think that they’re like, “Hey, we’re going to really try to help you.” Most of the information in my opinion is crap on buyer’s guide. And that’s as a person that has been involved in making them for websites. It’s all superfluous information and the goal is to get you to buy something from their link, not to actually give you a lot of good information. However, what I like about buying guides is it starts showing you brands and it starts showing you products, and it start showing you things about those products and kind of pros and con things to give you more context and understanding of what people are talking about. Those are the things that I really like about buyer’s guides.
Also, I also like to make a few decisions on it. If you go to a bunch of buyer guides, let’s just say 30 different buyer’s guides across the Internet, and you start seeing a couple that are kind of in the top, across all of them. You can start zeroing in to start doing research on those particular products, to better understand those. There’s still a lot more research to do to buy a product in the end on that, but those can give you some general directions to go when you have no idea what’s going on, you have no idea what to buy. And at this point you don’t know anyone you can talk to about it. That’s the really frustrating thing about learning something new. And this is the realm that I’m in a lot is I don’t know a lot of people that do the things that I want to learn. And so I have to learn it from scratch. And then I might tell somebody else about it later, but most of my research is for me to learn from scratch something new.
So once you have a few of the sewing machines in place that you want to actually research about and understand, go and find the PDF owner’s manuals for them. Don’t worry, you’re not going to read the owner’s manuals. You’re just going to skim through them really, really fast. Don’t go so fast you can’t see words on the page, but just lightly scroll through it and scan for words that stick out in your mind. If something sticks out, like maybe read a little bit about it. Figure out what it’s saying. What does this thing do? What does that thing do? How do you set up this? How do you set up that?
You’re not going to spend a lot… You’re probably going to spend about 20 minutes in this owner’s manual at most. What it’s going to do is it’s going to present you with other parts of the sewing machine in this case, that you’ve never seen before. And it’s going to give you more terms and more concepts to write down because that’s going to give you more research points that you can do. And you’re going to start seeing commonalities at this point. Plus, it’s going to give you terms that you’re not aware of so that when other people reference it in later research, you’re going to know what they’re referring to. It’s just, again, it’s gaining more information and packing more stuff in your head so that you have better context for when you’re doing research later on.
The next thing that I recommend that a lot of people don’t do and I think is super important in the research that I do, is research the history. So after I’ve gotten through a bunch of this other stuff that I’ve just gone through, I have a basics… I have some extremely basic idea of some of the things that exist, some of the words that exist. So then I go to Wikipedia and I’m going to research sewing machines at this point. I’m going to read the article in its entirety about sewing machines. And I might even click on a few extraneous links that talk about some of the other components of a sewing machine, just to get the history on that. But I’m really after the history and a breakdown of what Wikipedia says, the encyclopedia says about sewing machines.
This going to give me a lot more detailed information. Plus the history can give you directional understanding of where did things start and where are they going so that you can get… Let’s take a car engine, for example, if you go look at the very, very first car that was ever created the engine, it is super basic and super easy to understand what it’s doing. You’re like, “That makes sense.” If you were to look at an engine now and a transmission now, you’re just like, “Why are all the veins going all the different directions? What does that even do? Why are they going a hundred different directions? It doesn’t make any sense. It looks really strange. What’s going on?” But if you go look at one from the late 1800s, you’re like, “Okay, that makes sense. I get it.”
The concept, they’d literally do the exact same thing, the ones in modern day age do it better. And they do more things. But at the end of the day, they do the exact same thing. So that’s why I like to look up the history and also understand that. You also get key figures in the history of whatever it is, in this case sewing, so that you have an idea of how things shaped in the industry of whatever it is. So that whenever somebody mentioned something like, “Oh, when X, Y, and Z happened, it changed how this whole thing…” You’re like, “Oh, okay, well, that makes sense.” Maybe, let’s go sewing machine, maybe Singer had some kind of corporate espionage with Yamaha and then because of that they lost the patent. I’m totally pulling crap out, and I have no idea what I’m talking about, but that can potentially change how equipment works based on some type of thing that happened in the industry.
And so that’s where I think reading about the history is really good and understanding some of what’s going on, to understand changes that take place, because we’re going to get to another point when that comes up here in a second. And that is the next thing that I usually do is I take all the terms at this point that I’ve written down, and I Google them individually and try to understand each little thing component about it. And then I look for the history of that thing as well. That way it gives me an understanding of how it works, why it works, and why did it exist in the first place? Once I understand that I then Google for the opposite of it.
So let’s give it an example. A lot of sewing machines have pedals. Well, is it possible to sew without a pedal, why or why not? Is that a good idea? This gives you an understanding and a better idea of why you would or would not use a pedal, and if it’s okay to use an extra. I actually Googled this. Again, I have no interest in sewing, but the thought popped in my head and I actually Googled this, and I found out there’s a portion of people that are not good at using pedals on sewing machines. And so they do make a line of sewing machines that don’t use pedals and they use other ways to do the progression of the thing. And I was like, “Oh, that’s really cool. Because I have never seen a sewing machine without a set of pedals. Cool.”
And so it gives you alternative ideas of how things work in whatever that industry is, whatever that hobby is, so that you can know other ways to look at it. And it kind of just gives you a better reference point. Anyway, so at this point you’ve gotten a lot of background information. You have Googled a bunch of terms that you’ve learned and you’ve learned more terms since then that you’ve hopefully Googled at this point, you understand some of the history, and you’re starting to get a better picture of whatever it is, in this case sewing machines and sewing. You have an idea, an understanding of how all that works at this point.
The next step is to try to get involved a little bit in the sewing scene. One of the first things that I like to do in this case is I like to find five people that have a large social following on the internet around this. And so I would basically go to YouTube or Instagram and find five people that are the biggest names that I can find in sewing, and I’m going to follow them and I’m going to spend a while, 20, 30, 40 minutes each, on each person or reading through their bio, reading through their history, going through the content that they’ve created, and getting an understanding of how they do and why they do what they do. Not only are you going to learn more about, in this case sewing, you’re going to learn about them and their personality, and you’re going to learn their take on what it exists.
Then, and here’s the next key part, you’re going to go Google that person, and you’re going to find the forums where people complain about those people. And you’re not going to find the people that complain about their looks; that actually have structural differences and criticisms of what they do and how they do that thing. I know there are people that I like on YouTube and the criticisms that I find on them sometimes are so annoying because it’s like, “I don’t think they should do that because well, that’s just not the way I was taught to do it.” Who cares how you were taught to do it? Why wouldn’t you do that and give me a good reason why? Sometimes you can find good reasons why you wouldn’t want to do that, or an alternate, not necessarily a better way or reason you wouldn’t want to do it that way, you can find an alternate way to do that same thing.
So I like to Google each person and find the criticisms of them and how they do that and how they do what they do. There’s been a couple of people that I can’t find hardly any criticisms because they do what they do so well. I don’t know, it is what it is. And so that gives you more information and more understanding and more alternatives of what’s going on. And to me, I think Googling the inverse of the person is a great way to learn more information that you probably would never have found otherwise. Plus, when you go meet other people and you’re getting into this hobby, you now have a point of reference to talk about and people to talk about that you learn from that they probably know, and it gives you someone to bond over as well as the topic itself.
The 7th thing that I recommend doing, and this is really… this is the last point where it’s just me, just me doing research and learning. And that is, I like to go spend a couple of hours, at least an hour, just watching people do it on YouTube. I like to go find the content of people doing that thing that I’m learning about and just watch them do it. I either watch tutorials, or I watch, in the case of woodworking, build videos or educational videos. I just start watching people do it to see if I enjoy the process of what they’re doing. Because I’ve learned, if I don’t like the process of the hobby, whatever the hobby is, than I’m not going to enjoy the hobby itself. The result isn’t necessarily the thing that I’m after.
Let’s take losing weight as an example. I do not like the process of losing weight. I do like the end result. And so I’m not necessarily the best at losing weight. However, I am losing weight at the moment and I found a way to better enjoy the process and that is, eat all the stuff that I enjoy eating, for the most part. I’m just cutting out snacking and I’m just reducing the quantities. Super simple concept for losing weight. It’s just something that I’ve not done in the past, but this time I’m more sticking to it and so I’m losing weight more in this case. But the process is better. If you don’t enjoy the process, you’re probably not going to enjoy the results and it’s not going to be enjoyable enough to get to the result of what’s there. I love the result of playing paintball. You’re playing paintball. I currently do not enjoy the process of playing paintball because I am fat, overweight, and out of shape. However, once I get into shape, I much more enjoy paintball.
So let’s go back to sewing since I’m using that as an example. I like the outcome. I do not like the process, because I’ve tried to do a few sewing projects and it is just not fun. They’ve just been a means to an end. So I don’t ever see myself getting deep into sewing at all, unless I really am motivated by the end process, the end result that makes me want to enjoy the process. So definitely get out there and watch other people do it on YouTube and how they do it so that you understand what goes into it. Plus if it’s something… If you’re getting this far into the process of learning about it, in all likelihood, this is going to be something that you want to stick with because I’ve made it halfway through this and been like, “I don’t care about this topic anymore. I just don’t want to make it.” And you’re done now. You don’t have to waste your time ever again, wondering, “Well, I wonder if I would’ve gotten into that, if I would have enjoyed it.” That’s just not a thing you have to worry about anymore.
So the final thing that I like to do in learning about a new topic and starting down a new hobby is I like to find user groups, local user groups in my area that have meetups. Specifically, I like to have meetups because I can go talk to people in person and learn from them and form relationships and form a local community so that I can understand how to do that thing better.
This served me really, really well when I was learning how to do programming. A little bit when I was getting into off-roading in my Jeep. Woodworking, I haven’t really gone and got involved in any local communities because I haven’t really found any that get together very often. It’s more they’re just interact with social media, which is changing the landscape, but I like to find local user groups where I can go to a meeting once a month and talk about that particular topic. Plus, it’s a great place to network and buy used equipment as well, or sell your old equipment to newer people or specific things that you want there. And so it’s a great way to further the hobby or further your knowledge if you’re actually wanting to get into it even more.
So those are the things that I do to learn about a topic and I found that it gives you a really, really good base of understanding of whatever that hobby is or whatever that topic it is you’re wanting to learn about. And if nothing else, you now know something more about whatever it is, and you’re a more learned person at this point. So if there’s ever a hobby that you want to learn about, if there’s ever a hobby you want to get into, totally recommend take this formula, apply it to that and see what you think.
Now I will spend four or five, six, seven, eight hours doing this entire process either in one day or over the course of several days to determine if that thing is now interesting to me. And if I don’t make it through it, then I know it’s not, and I literally just forget about the hobby altogether. This not only saves your future time, future anguish, future stress about that topic, but it can also save you money as well, because if you commit yourself to do this process and you take your long time to do this process, then you’re not going to spend any money on that hobby that you’re never going to jump into again. And so it can save you money as well.
So with that, I hope this helps. I hope it gives you an idea of at least a way to research something. If you’ve always wanted to learn about something new, it’s what I do and I think it’s served me really, really well. I’ve been able to just learn about something, I’ve been able to have conversations with other people about a brand new topic that I’ve never messed with before. And not only have I been able to have a conversation about that thing and understand what they’re talking about, but I’ve been able, in a few cases, to teach them a little bit about the topic as well, because my research has gotten so broad when trying to learn and understand about it.
So it’s a lot of fun and I love learning and I really like this method. So anyway, with that, let’s jump into the final segment and that is my failure of the week. And I’m going to go with my garden. Yay. And this is actually something like… I like homesteading or farmsteading or whatever you want to call it. I like it, but I do not like the garden aspect of it. Don’t like the process. I don’t even necessarily like the end result of a garden because I’m not a fruits and vegetables person. I like my meat. I like my steak. I like my chicken. I like my pork. I like those things. But I also like animals better than I like plants as well. And so gardening is just not a fun thing. It’s not a fun process that I like.
I like going out and taking care of my chickens and playing with the chickens and gathering the eggs and working with the cows over at my father-in-law’s. I like dealing with animals. They’re just a lot more fun to me. And so I like the process of that. So I really enjoy dealing with the animals. I do not like plants. I do not like to eat plants. I do eat them because I should. So my failure of this week is, my wife wanted me to put up this hardware cloth for our peas. And I just kept forgetting, I just got busy this week and just kept forgetting, okay, and last week too, and just kept forgetting, kept forgetting, kept forgetting. Well, we had a big storm come through with high amounts of wind, and so now all of our peas are laying over on the ground and I don’t know if they’re going to make it or not.
So my solution for that in the future is I’m going to go out there and try to get the hardware cloth back up. But my future on that is I just need to do it. If my wife asks me to do something for the garden, I just need to do it because I know it’ll make her happier. And then I don’t have the extra stress of being like, “Oh crap, I forgot about that,” kind of thing. I’m going to try to get better about just doing it. Fortunately, it’s not as big of a deal since she’s pregnant and she’s not necessarily paying attention to the garden as much, and we’re probably going to let it go again this year, but it is what it is. And that’s my failure of the week.
So with that, I thank you for your time. I thank you for giving it a listen. Let me know if you have any ideas on how you like to learn new things, or if you have a structure, if you have a rigid structure around what you do. I generally follow the topic that I talk about. I generally follow that structure every time I want to learn something new and it seems to serve me well. What do you do? How do you learn about something new?
So on that note, thank you for your time. I hope to see you back next week. Hopefully next week I’ll nail the dust collection video. This has been a topic that’s taken me a lot of time to research. I’m going far beyond what I’ve talked about today in learning about dust collection. I hope I can get enough in and get everything written down enough to be able to do an episode next week on dust collection. I really, really, really do. But on that note, thank you and have a great day.