The January challenge >>>

Learn a new skill!

Juggling, handstands, sketching, poetry... Whatever you've always wanted to do, this is the month to challenge yourself and learn to do it!


Tell me more...

Why learn a new skill? Apart from being fun, on a physiological level, learning new things is good for your brain. Practicing a new skill increases the density of your myelin, or the white matter in your brain that helps improve performance on a number of tasks. Additionally, learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them. The combination of these two things helps you learn better. It can even help you stave off dementia.

Perhaps more importantly, it can also make us happier. Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness, says ‘It’s actually a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connecting with others too.’

If you need more persuading, here are a couple of short articles about the positive impacts of learning a new skill:

Want to be happier? Learn something new

11 Benefits of Learning Something New

And to help you hit the ground running, we strongly recommend having a browse through Mike Boyd's YouTube channel for some inspiration on what to learn, and how best to do it...


The basics

Set yourself a clear, measurable and well defined goal. Then write it down and ideally tell someone. Don't overshoot. Aim for something which you're at least 90% certain you could achieve with a month's worth of effort and learning. If you hit your target within a few days, raise the bar or learn a completely new skill!

Try and build a new habit for practicing your skill. Set aside a defined amount of time each day which you're prepared to dedicate to the challenge. That might well mean setting the alarm clock half an hour earlier...

Approach learning with some rigour. Don't just throw yourself and the polevault and expect to be able to do it with enough time. You'll benefit from breaking the skill down into smaller chunks and then assembling them together to master your challenge.

Take it a bit further...

What if you set yourself a new skill, say juggling three balls for 1 minute, and it turns out you're a natural and can master it in the first half hour of trying?... 

Great! Congratulate yourself on unearthing your natural ability and then move the target further back. How about 5 balls? How about 5 clubs? How about 7 flaming torches. Blindfolded...