5 ways to achieve your learning goals

career Jan 7, 2020

This is a direct next episode of my first article on “How to Write your 2020 Goals”.
Read part 1 ✴️

Today, I want to follow this pace and write for the ambitious

This article is for you if you want to dedicate 2020 to a major accomplishment
This article is for you if you want to find your dream job.

Let’s get to it —

When taking an online course, we can be 3 types of profiles.

  • The competitor  — You want to upskill to be better at work and get better results
  • The curious  — You have an interest in a topic and want to learn a lot about it
  • The underdog  — We want to find a specific job and get the required skills from almost zero

Today, I will write to all three of you

Are you looking for a job in a cutting-edge industry?
A job that will make sense to your life and that will launch your career?
A job that is not too distant from your current position, but still pretty far?
Are you looking for your dream job?
Or are you looking for better skills?Anyway, you are looking to learn.      Today, I am sharing my experience and I hope it will change your life!

Even if learning online has a lot of benefits, over 80% of online learning don’t finish their courses.
This number is really high.
It means that even if online courses have a massive positive impact…
They mostly don’t have a positive impact.I have personally followed a course that lasted 10 months with a pace of about 20 hours per week.

Today, I want to share with you how I did it.

And how you can apply these 5 techniques to yourself so that you can do it too!
If I never finished my online degree, I would never have joined a self-driving car company.
We were a lot of students enrolled at the time of the Udacity Self-Driving Car Nanodegree

Most didn’t finish…
And most didn’t join self-driving car companies

Among those who finished, a lot could join the company the wanted
After 10 months of hell, the least you can do is try to make it profitable!

You find a course because you believe it will guide you to achieving your goals, finishing the course is the natural continuation of your process.

So here are the five things I want to share to complete your online course.


Motivation —If you followed the first article , you took care of your 3 major goals and set up some minor goals to help you in the day to day process.

In an example, I described someone who is looking to find an internship or a job in a self-driving car company.
The process was in 3 steps:

  1. Get the skills
  2. Sell the skills
  3. Get recruited

Now is the time to get the skills! It’s phase 1.
The best way to get some skills today is to follow an online course.
It can take you several months.
It can take 20 hours per week.
Here, it won’t matter.
Whatever happens, the course will be finished. To be sure to stay motivated, you need to choose a course that matters to you today, but also that will matter to you a year from now.

Don’t take a course that doesn’t align with your goals.
Don’t take a course that won’t lead you to the exact position you are targeting.
Take a course that will increase your skillset…
Take a course that alone can be a major life goal for 2020.

When selecting a course, make sure it will make you practice a lot.
You have to code a lot, you have to struggle.
It is the only way you will actually learn and improve your skills.
Reading alone is not enough, you have to code.

Don’t enroll if you don’t plan on finishing
Don’t be this person that enrolls in 50 courses at the same time.
You need to follow one course, and only one.
Don’t multitask.
One course at a time, each course has one purpose that is coherent with your goals. Finally, to stay motivated, you increase your chances if you pay.

We all love free content.
I have built a national non-profit in France so people can learn AI for free.
I believe in free content.
But there is something that we need to understand.
The free aspect of the course is also one of the reasons people don’t finish.

When something is free, we tend to value it less.
We tend to invest ourselves in it less.
If you spend 10,000 $ on a course, you have higher chances of finishing it than if you don’t.
That’s why the course needs to be carefully selected and can’t just be another of the 50 free courses that you already enrolled in and never completed.

Some courses can be very expensive.
See that as an investment…
You invest 1,000$ today and find a position that will make you 50, 60 or 100 times that investment a year from now.
AI engineer’s salaries are pretty high in the US, it’s lower in Europe but still quite high.
The skills are in high demand.
You have to invest, and if you invest, you have to reach the end and go for the 100,000$ job.Just switch your mentality… How much do you spend on clothes? Or the new iPhone?
What does it get you?
Switch your mentality from consumer to investor.

When you pay with your own money, the emotional connection you build with your course is a strong completion factor.
Don’t get the course as a gift, make sure you and only you pay.
Or… find a scholarship if that exists.


Time Management

Let’s say you are motivated.
You are ready to complete the course because it will lead you to find your dream job.
A course can be 5 hours per week, or even 20.
How do you fit these additional 5–20 hours per week in your agenda?
Your time management method is crucial.

The first thing you need is a detailed agenda.
When will you finish module 1? When will you finish module 2?
Include your personal events on this agenda.
Create deadlines if the course doesn’t have some.
Generally, the course instructor creates the modules in weeks or adds projects with deadlines to help you set a reference. Use this. Then, define a time to spend each day to learn.

One hour per day will always be better than 7 hours once a week.
If you have to code a project for over an hour, you can mix.
Try to allocate at least one hour every day.
Do more if the course requires more.
You, fortunately, can add more hours during the weekends.

It doesn’t have to be hell.
You can do this hour during your lunch break sometimes.
You can do it before going to see a movie on a Tuesday.
If you have to listen to something, you can do it while driving back home. No time lost at all.
One hour per day is no big deal, but you have to stick to it no matter what.

If one hour per day is not enough, add an extra 30 minutes or 2/3 hours during the weekends.
It can be a Saturday morning.
If you skip it, try to make two hours the day after.
Make sure you respect the deadlines you set at first. With this plan, you will include learning to your daily routine.
You will also have time to have a life.
One hour per day is already 7 hours per week. And we still have our weekends almost free.
Now think about what you can do if you spend your whole Saturday learning.


Other priorities

Sometimes, your work/studies can add a lot of pressure to your life.
You can have exam periods where the last thing you need is to spend your Saturdays following a course
… whose impact is only a “maybe” compared to your direct emergency.
You can get sick and unable to work…
Or simply, you can be on a vacation…
How to deal with other priorities?

If you follow a 10 months course, at some point, your course will not be your priority.

The impediments can be either short or long.

  • Short means 1/2 days to a week; you just need to catch up more on the days after the event
  • Long means over a week; what happens then? For my whole year, I rarely stopped learning for over a week.

The course had a month break every 3 months, and it was a good thing.
It allowed us to learn at a high pace and then relax for a couple of weeks.
But during the “on” period, I always gave 100%.

During these 3 months, I always made sure I could follow the deadlines.
Your deadlines are the most important thing.
Make sure you respect them.
Sometimes, you will have to cancel some dinner or some movie.
Sometimes, you will have to study while on a paradise island with your wife.

Look at your goals often, don’t forget why you started in the first place.
Accept to let go of some of the fun to learn.
It’s only temporary and will not repeat every day.
It will happen, and you need to be ready to face the situation.
You need to be ready to cancel your event to work on your course.


Skills

Sometimes, the skills can be hard to learn.
Artificial Intelligence is not an easy topic.
Self-driving cars is an even more complicated one.
How to make sure you acquire the skills and don’t learn for nothing?

First, you need to make sure you can follow the course
Validate the prerequisites
If you don’t have them, take free courses to do so.
When applying to my nanodegree, I had to take a Python course first.
It is necessary to take the time before you jump, or you will get left behind in a week. The most efficient way I found was to write Medium blog posts about what I am learning.

Writing a blog post is making a summary of what you learned.
It allows you to make sure you understood what you are working on.

It will also be very useful later, in the “Sell Your Skills” moment.
Having a blog is very helpful in a job search.
If you don’t have a blog and all the necessary things to sell your skills; it will simply come down to luck.
I mention it all in my PORTFOLIO MASTER course to build a magnetic profile .
I explain techniques to effectively sell and communicate your skills! Have a look.

You don’t have to write everything down.
You just need to explain what you learned to a 6-year-old.
Be sure to be concise.
Be sure anybody can understand what you write in plain English.


Capitalizing

Graduation can seem far at first.
But as the days go, it gets closer until eventually, we complete the course and get a certificate.
How to make sure we capitalize?

A lot of people have a lot of skills and do nothing with them.
The best they do is add their certificates of completion to their LinkedIn.
Then what?
Was all of that for a LinkedIn post?

Adding your certificate to your LinkedIn can help.
People will not hire you for that.
You will need to build a whole story, a whole character
You will need to be someone who just got back from war Do not forget that you are not chasing the skills, you are chasing what the skills can get you.

It’s good to have some skills, but it’s worthless if you don’t apply them and actually change people’s lives
Don’t use your certificate for ego or pride, use it only if recruiters ask you a confirmation
If they don’t, don’t even mention it.
Mention your skills, show your projects. It’s far more impressive.

Build an online presence
Share your work
Build a GitHub with your project
Make YouTube videos
Write Medium posts

Communicate your skills, sell them!
We are now reaching phase 2: “Apply for a Job”

👉 These techniques are taught in my course "PORTFOLIO MASTER" to build a magnetic profile and to sell your technical skills to anyone even when bad at convincing” . You have over 2 hours of video content and 3 projects to apply the content to your own skills!

So here are my 5 rules on how to actually follow a course.These rules will work if the course if 10 hours /week long or 20 hours/week long. It doesn’t work if you’re looking for free courses that you can follow in a week. I am writing to people who are looking for rather long and intense training. Tell me what is your thing to stick to your learning commitment!

📩 If you’d like to receive daily emails like this one to go further, I invite you to join the Think Autonomous’s Daily emails. This is the most efficient way to understand autonomous tech in depth and join the industry faster than anyone else.

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