How to Improve Your Analytical Skills
Analytical skills are a necessary for upper level success in virtually every walk of life, from sports to finance to art. Even along career paths that the public usually considers to be intuitive—like art or athletics—a firm grounding in analytics can make the difference between moderate and major achievement. The ability to diagnose situations and conditions allows individuals to better position themselves to take advantage of opportunities and avoid pitfalls.
Analytical skills do not develop in a vacuum. Although they are informed by theories of mind and world, these skills are not purely theoretical. The first step to improving analytical skills is clarifying your goals. What are you attempting to achieve? Is your goal to succeed in your business? Get an ‘A’ in your Calculus class? Win the heart of your love interest?
Putting what you are trying to achieve in the most specific terms possible allows you to focus your analytical skills so that you are not simply flailing about without direction. So often, we fail on this very first step.
Gathering the Data for Analysis
The next step is to find out what you know and what you need to know. Before you can act, you have to find out as much as possible about the field of action. If your goal is to become something really ambitious, like a rock star, for example, you first need to get a road map. You probably don’t know any rock stars and have little sense about how they became rock stars. Your job at this stage is to inform yourself about how one becomes a rock star. That means reading biographies of rock stars, finding people in the music business and trying to pick their brains, following news reports about the music business and generally spending every free moment on the look out for more information about the music industry.
You will find that gathering information is not a step that you move-on from but a constant part of any project. One never finishes with this step.
Outlining a Plan of Action
Next, you need to use your analytical skills to sketch out a provisional road map of how you hope to get to your goal. When you don’t have very much information this road map may simply look one or two steps into the future. For example, if you want to be the next Donald Trump, you might want to volunteer at some kind of financial institutions during your summers in high school. Your next goal might be to find a good college to attend and to get the grades to allow to you to choose your college. That might be it, however.
As you get a clearer sense of what kind of businessperson you want to be, you might start to see more of the steps. Eventually, you get to the point where you have much of your college classes planned according to what you want to learn from them and you know which kinds of summer internships you want because of the contacts you hope to make. In other words, you have a much more exact sense of how to get from where you are to where you want to go.
Of course, this does not mean that you should stick to this map no matter what happens. As you learn more about what is necessary to achieve your goals, you may find that your previous road map no longer fits your ultimate goals. Being able to readjust your plans according to new information is also a key part of strong analytical skills.