hacking your education

15 Things I Am Horrible at Doing, and Why

things I'm horrible at doing This exercise is another snippet from Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever . The point is to find things that we may be horrible at doing because we never really made the effort to be good, or we decided in our heads that we were horrible at those things before making any effort to change that or to show ourselves that we could be good at those things. It's interesting to think about our failures and shortcomings in a new light, especially since it's very easy to focus on what we are good at and to work on those. Here are 15 things I am horrible at doing, and why I'm not any good at them:

  1. Sales - I have an excellent grasp of marketing, but what to do with a lead once I got one (the beginning of the sales process) was where I got stuck. What do I talk to these people about? What if they don't want to talk, or don't give me much to talk about? Perhaps I just need to work on my elevator pitch.
  2. Riding a bike - I've tried, more than once, to learn how to ride a bike. Never quite got it. Now I'm just scared the neighbor kids will laugh at white girl trying to learn how to ride a bike.
  3. Singing - I think I'm getting better, at least I think I'm getting better. But, no one ever considered me a good singer, or someone capable of winning American Idol, or anything like that.
  4. Driving in Severe Weather - I think I only suck because I don't have much practice. Also, they don't cover driving in snow, hail, or icy roads in the Hawaii state driver's manual. Those things don't happen where I'm from.
  5. Cooking - Now that I think about it, I don't think I'm horrible at cooking. When I follow a recipe it comes out fine. I think I just dislike cooking that much. My mother can attest to this. I never took an interest, although, I do think I could find a niche as a soup chef. I've been making my own soups lately and they are delicious while being so simple to make!
  6. Accounting - I know there are programs like Mint.com and Wave Accounting that can do this for you, but when I set up my business account, I set it up with a very small bank. Therefore, these programs couldn't upload my account information and do everything by hand. However, I couldn't get my number to match what was actually in my account. That made things harder than they needed to be, and I never could figure out why my numbers didn't match.
  7. Roller Blading - If you've never tried it before, then you would be horrible at it, right?
  8. Folding Bed Sheets - There's a trick to this that I have yet to understand fully. I try to fold bed sheets and I just can't have the edges line up and have a neat pile of bed sheets. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. By the way, bed sheets is two words and not one.
  9. Sewing - I think I know how to sew. The needle scares me.
  10. Pumpkin Carving - I have no idea how some people manage to carve such amazing pictures into their pumpkins! I can barely get the knife to cut, let alone execute one of these jack 'o lantern ideas.
  11. Drawing - Falls into the same category as pumpkin carving. Much of the visual arts are beyond me.
  12. Focusing on One Thing at a Time - I'm always full of ideas. I still have this problem even as my business coach worked with me on this and forced me to pick one thing on which to focus. It's hard to pick one, or to pick one and see it to the end.
  13. Putting Things Away After I'm Done - I think this one has a lot to do with the previous thing I'm horrible at doing. See, I'm never done with something. I'm more, distracted, or in need of a break as I do something else and come back to this other thing later.
  14. Swimming - I know how to swim, and I've been swimming since I was a little kid, but my technique is all over the place. You'd think I'd be good at this since I grew up next to an ocean, but growing up next to one and spending time in it are two different things. Also, swimming in a pool and swimming in the ocean are also two different things. You don't have much visibility in the ocean. It's not fun.
  15. Speaking Russian - Well, I'm horrible now, that's for sure. I never as awesome Russian speaker during college, either. I was okay, although my host mother in St. Petersburg did say my Russian was terrible. It certainly wasn't as good as my roommate's skills.

Pick 3 and Give Them Another Try

Here are the three I'm going to pick and to give another try:

  • Singing
  • Driving in severe weather
  • Speaking Russian

Well, I don't really need more things to do. I still need to learn history, and to learn how to drive stick (which should lead to learning how to drive in severe weather). Now, I need to figure out how to give these three things another try to get better at them, and how to measure that progress. I feel like, in another week or two, I need to review my life up to this point and sort through the loose ends. I'm going to have a lot of loose ends.

My To-Learn List

my to-learn list That booked I picked up from the library, Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More than Your Peers Ever Will, is turning out to have a lot more value than I originally thought. Although I already have a college degree, the book is full of neat idea on how to keep learning and growing, which is something that can be done whether or not you have completed higher education. Today's neat idea is coming up with a list of things you want to learn, and then getting starting on learning one of those things. I like this because there's always things we want to learn, especially since those things we want to learn aren't the same things that are taught in schools.

So, below is my list of things I want to learn how to do or to learn more about. At the end of it, I'll pick one and start learning more, whether that's by reading a book, or talking to someone, or trying a few things out on my own. The point is to come up with something that can be a self-directed project of learning and building skills.

What I Want to Learn

  • Russian (again)
  • How to Make My Own Soap (dish soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, hand soap etc.)
  • To Play the Clarinet (again)
  • American History
  • World History
  • How to Register Non-Profit
  • How to Cook Vegan Food
  • How to Brew Espresso
  • Some type of aerobics, such as zumba, yoga etc.

Be More Specific...

  • Learn to have a conversation in Russian
  • Learn how to make your own laundry detergent
  • Learn how to use an espresso machine and make a delicious latte
  • Learn how to register a non-profit in Missouri
  • Learn to play a song on the clarinet
  • Learn how to do a few basic poses in yoga
  • Learn enough U.S history to ace the history part of this eighth grade exam
  • Learn African history post-European emancipation

My Choice for What I Want to Spend My Time Learning

Of all those wonderful things I can learn, the one I'm going to choose to work is the U.S history one. I remember reading the article about that test a few months ago, and I was a little embarrassed that I found it so tough. The spelling section is easy, but physiology is crazy and grammar isn't all that easy either. I'm going to get started on this by borrowing a U.S history book the next time I go the library, and then reading up on the specific topics covered in the test. It's kind of nice I don't need to study anything beyond 1912. In a future post, I'll talk about what I've learned (besides the answers to the questions, of course). In the meantime, there are a few things about our nation's history that I need to learn, and that many of us probably need to learn as well.