Information is abundant. And the skills you must develop are moving targets. Combined, these facts make the perfect conditions for analysis paralysis. If you allow yourself to become overwhelmed, you become a blacksmith that never swings a hammer.

Learning is the first phase of skill acquisition. Read, watch, and listen until you have formed just enough understanding to practice. Only through practice can you deepen your understanding. A blacksmith may study new metals and techniques, but it is only the swinging of the hammer that betters their craft. Each swing propels them towards mastery.

Skill acquisition has no shortcuts. But there is an optimal method, deliberate practice. Cure analysis paralysis by developing selection criteria. Know what skills belong in your toolbelt and which do not. Once selected, make competence your only goal. Only after you’ve become competent can you determine if mastery is worth pursuing. Become comfortable being unproductive. Give yourself the freedom to experiment and learn.

“The trouble comes when we confuse learning with skill acquisition. If you want to acquire a new skill, you must practice it in context. Learning enhances practice, but it doesn’t replace it. If performance matters, learning alone is never enough.” ― Josh Kaufman, The First 20 Hours