Learning to repair cars yourself is perfectly doable. Maybe one of your parents taught you the basics as you were growing up, but even if that isn’t the case, there are plenty of books, websites and actual experts out there that can help you figure out the nuts and bolts.
But what about more extreme DIY projects? If you’d grown up two hundred years ago, you might have learned how to make cheese, build your own tools or all sorts of other skills that seem beyond most of us these days. There are situations when such skills can still come in handy, though, especially if you’re more interested in investing time rather than cash in the situation. Here are a few tips to acquire such skills
Finding the Right Knowledge for the Job
For many of us, our first instinct these days is to sit down at the computer and start typing words into our favorite search engine. But with some of the skills you might be looking to learn, there are some difficulties:
- You might not know the right words to search for. If you’re new to a topic, you may just not have the vocabulary necessary to find the right materials.
- You don’t know the quality of the information that you find in your searches — particularly a problem when dealing with something like canning, when an error can lead to food poisoning.
- You may simply need more basic information than anyone has thought to publish online yet. I’ve been an absolute beginner before with many things, asking questions that made experts wonder if I was dropped on my head.
If you’ve got a good starting point, searching online can be useful. But if you don’t have that starting point, you need to find it.
Finding Someone to Ask
It seems a little counter-intuitive in an age where every piece of information seems available if you just search for it, but the truth is that it is still very important to find a guide to help you through all the information in front of you. An expert on the skill that you’re looking to brush up on will be invaluable, so don’t forget the human touch.
And before you start stressing about how difficult it may be to find an expert, it’s worth noting that a skill being entirely lost is actually extremely rare. There are people practicing skills that you’d never imagine, at least as hobbies. There’s a world champion in jousting, websites devoted to building the tools necessary to create medieval shoes and a guy I know who doesn’t just make his own beer but also makes his own mead.
More than anything, it’s a question of finding someone who is actually willing to teach that’s the hard part, as certain enthusiasts are much more excited about going out and exercising their skills than passing them on. But searching for such people, either among your own network or by going online, is often easier than trying to run searches for particular aspects of a certain skill. That’s due to the fact that you only need to find someone who does “x” and has some sort of contact information listed. It might seem a little strange to contact strangers on the internet out of the blue, but you’ll likely find that most people are willing to point you in the right direction, especially if they’re passionate about their area of expertise.
Trying Things Out, Over and Over Again
For many of us, the only way to master the most basic levels of a new skill is to practice it again and again. It’s great to read about something interesting, but even if you’re pretty sure that you don’t know what you’re doing, start trying out the most basic parts of the skill you’re trying to learn will help. I’d add a suggestion to be careful if your new skill is “extreme” in the sense that it’s dangerous, so put your own judgement to good use.
If you can get an expert to hang around while you’re trying things out, so much the better — you can learn more from doing it wrong once and getting corrected than you might expect.
The important thing is to get out there and actually try out a new skill, so have a go at it.