Develop a plan to ultralearn your skill of choice

Doing your background research on a topic is important to ensure your decision to commit to learning it is an informed one. It will also help you discern between what you need to know and what’s irrelevant or unnecessary information. Most importantly, it will prepare you for the path to mastery.


  1. Gain a deep understanding of why you are learning what you are learning
    There are two motivations for pursuing mastery of a skill:

    • Mastering a skill to achieve something else - for example, learning a new programming language to benefit your career. If this is your motivation, speak to successful professionals in your field and assess whether it is the best way forward.
    • Mastering a skill for its own sake - for example, learning French because you’ve always wanted to. If this is your motivation, look for courses or educational materials that focus on the specific aspects of the skill that you are most interested in.
  2. Identify the concepts, facts and procedures you need to learn in order to master your skill
    Concepts refer to things that need to be understood (e.g., algebra), facts refer to everything you need to memorize (e.g., rules for programming languages), and procedures refer to aspects of the skill you can perform unconsciously (e.g., pronunciation). Think about your skill and write down all of its aspects under their appropriate categories. Then, circle the ones you feel will be the most challenging - these are the ones you should get an early start on!

  3. Find your educational materials
    One method to do this is to research how others have learned this skill - for example, if you want to learn History, look up a nearby school’s curriculum. Keep your specific goals in mind - for example, if you want to learn French for an upcoming trip to Paris, focus on perfecting your pronunciation rather than your spelling.


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