You need a purpose. As we’ve talked about already, you can’t just decide to become an expert for no reason.
The dedication and follow-through is what sets true experts apart from everyone else. Those who will never follow through will never achieve a level where they can consider themselves to be an “expert.” Those people might try to take the easy way out— to “fake it until they make it.”
That’s not what you want to do, of course. This is a journey you’re excited to be on. You know that becoming an expert is going to change your life in incredible ways. This is a decision that’s going to serve you extremely well in more ways than one.
You need to have your purpose at the top of your mind.
Are you in this because it will help you start or further your business? Experts are often paid more highly than others. Experts know all the ins and outs of a topic and stand out in the competition. Your expertise can help open doors for you to earn more money and make more of an impact in your space.
Are you in this because you want to further your career? Experts are promoted and given better positions than those who haven’t achieved a certain level of expertise. If you want to promote, make more money, and get more respect in the workplace, then you really have to work on what you know and how you present yourself.
Do you want to become an expert to help people? Experts can really give back to other people. You can use your expertise to help make life better or easier for other people.
Do you want to become an expert to change something in your life? It may be that you have certain hobbies, goals, and aspirations that you can’t make work until you are an expert.
What is your purpose? What’s going to drive you?
Becoming an expert can better your business or improve your value in the workplace. Becoming an expert can help you help yourself and others. What do you really hope will come from this?
You need to figure out your short term goals. Your first short term expert plan will take place over the next 30 days— I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know. What do you want to have achieved over the next 30 days? What level of expertise do you want to have reached?
You also need to figure out your long term goals. What do you want to achieve over the next year, 5 years, 10 years, and more? How will becoming an expert on your topic help you?
Or is becoming an expert in a particular area just something that you want for now, and not to make a lifelong crusade? That’s OK, it might be something you want to develop expertise on for the purpose of writing a book or creating a product or teaching a course and then you might not need to go any further. Some people become “temporary” experts on single subjects, and then move on to other skills that they wish to master. Is that what you want, or do you want to evolve your expertise about a single subject for the long term?
Determine how developing your expertise fits into this and come up with a plan. You need to know what you’re aiming for and exactly how you’re going to get there.
Will you read on your topic every day? Will you study under another expert? Brainstorm your plans, now.
Do you want to sell in the field? Do you want to start or grow a business? Do you want people to hire you as a teacher, coach, or mentor? Do you want to consult or speak? What is it, very specifically, that you want to gain from being an expert?
As an expert, you want to get more out of life. You’ve asked and answered a lot of questions about your plans at this point. It’s all designed to help you get the best possible start. Go out there and make it happen!
Please don’t just skim over this section. Really think on it and write your reflections down. It’s important to write your goals down and revisit them on a regular basis. If you know why you’re doing this, you’ll be a lot more likely to follow through.
If you don’t have a well thought out purpose for becoming an expert, then you probably won’t follow through. If you have a well thought out purpose and a solid set of specific goals, then you probably will follow through and succeed. I know which option is more appealing to me— now it’s your turn.
What Will You Become An Expert On?
Now, it’s time for you to choose the exact topic you want to become an expert in. You may have it in mind already. Even if you do, it’s important to do some fine-tuning. For example, the more narrow your topic, the easier it will be to achieve expertise and recognition.
If your topic is very broad, then there’s really no way to go deep there. For instance, if you decide to become an expert on weight loss, what does that really mean? You can try to achieve expertise on the topic of weight loss, but there’s just so much there.
It’s much easier to become an expert on a particular area of weight loss. For example, if you’re passionate about the Paleo Diet, you can become an expert on that. It’s much easier to study that narrow area of health and weight loss than it is to target weight loss as a whole.
If you’re passionate about helping authors write and publish books, you might be tempted to go full steam ahead and become an expert on the topic yourself. But, it’s easier to become an expert in a narrower way, at least at first. You can become an expert on helping romance fiction authors self-publish books on Amazon Kindle, for instance.
When people think of expertise, they often think too broad. Really, it might serve you and your audience better if you narrow things down. Be more specific. Focus, and you can more easily achieve expertise and reach an audience much more easily.
After you’ve developed expertise on a narrow subject, then you can begin to go broader, but before going broader I would recommend you go deeper in your narrow topic.
What to Do If You Already Know What You Want To Become an Expert On
If you already know what you’re interested in becoming an expert on, break it down. Really turn the topic over and think about your goals. Do you need to know absolutely everything about the more general topic, or would it serve you better to specialize? Seek out other experts and see how they handle it. After you’ve achieved expertise and mastery in one area, you can certainly branch out wider in your field.
What to Do If You Don’t Have Any Ideas for Your Expertise
It’s most likely the case that you know exactly what you want to become an expert on, or you at least have a vague idea. If you don’t, though, the options can be overwhelming.
Again, it all comes back to figuring out your goals. Why are you doing this and what do you want to achieve? Once you know that, you can examine the broad topics and specific topics and choose something you’d like to focus on.
Depending on your goals, there are some things you’ll want to consider. First, are you passionate about the topic? If you’re not driven and passionate, you’re probably not going to follow through in the long term. Examine the passionates before you choose your topic.
Which blogs do you visit every day? Which non-fiction books do you already read for pleasure? Which experts do you admire and hope to emulate? This can help you determine what you should choose.
You should also examine your goals. It might be that your top passion doesn’t line up with your goals, exactly. Maybe becoming an expert on topic X wouldn’t serve you, but becoming an expert on topic Y will. Or maybe becoming an expert on topic X will open up the doors for you to move to topic Y later, whereas you can’t see yourself just diving into topic Y instantly.
I’ll assume that most people want to become an expert because they want to earn more money, further their life in some way, or help people in some way. Make sure the topic you choose serves that purpose. You can become an expert on basket weaving, but does that really help you reach your goals? Are there really opportunities to share your expertise there? Find something that ticks all the boxes.
Choosing Your Topic
Now it’s time to choose your topic, or to narrow your topic down if you already have one in mind. Your topic is extremely important. If you focus on something that won’t help you achieve your goals, you’ve essentially wasted your time. If you focus on something that doesn’t have a large and interested audience, your plans may be dead in the water.
Most people want to become an expert in something to further their life and business in some way. You don’t want to know something just to know it— it’s really a means to an end. Really think long and hard about your goals and about how your chosen topic will help you reach your goals.
It may be the case that your topic is fairly pre-determined. If your plan is to further your career in some way, consider which specialty you can focus on within the wider topic. What would be most impressive to those in-the-know? Which focus will help you keep up with the ‘big dogs’ or stand out from the crowd? Remember not to choose something just to choose it, choose something because it will help you get to where you want to be.
If you want to start a business, in either the online or offline world, you might be at a total loss for choosing your topic. You know that there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to earn a fantastic income and build your dream life by owning your own business. Where should you start?
Only you know the reasons you’re interested in becoming an expert on something. No matter what your exact reason is, you have to know how to choose your general topic as well as your more specific topic.
Again, start with what you’re passionate about. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this topic, so it has to be something you’ll really enjoy. The lure of the money you can earn with a particular topic might be really strong, but is it strong enough to keep you going?
Passion isn’t enough, of course. You also have to make sure the potential is there with your topic. Are there enough people interested in the topic? Will you be able to achieve your goals, financial or otherwise, with a focus on the topic?
It’s also really helpful to sort of study how current experts on the topic are faring. How did those experts get to where they are today? Are they where you want to be as far as recognition and the impact they make on the audience? How about financially?
You have to know that the topic you want to choose is going to smooth the way for you to reach your goals. If there’s no audience, no money, and no possibilities, then it’s not the topic for you.
What to Do If You’re Totally Stuck for Ideas
If you’re totally stuck for topic ideas and you’ve gone through your passions, it’s time to do some more digging. You can search online to start to spark some ideas. Browsing the non-fiction section at Amazon is a great way to start. There are a ton of different topic ideas— you can also get a feel for who the top experts are in each field. Experts tend to publish books to spread their ideas.
You can also search for the top blogs on topics you’re interested in. These days, many people turn to the online world for the information and insight they need. These bloggers are the go-to experts for a wide audience. Look at what they blog about and which topics get the most activity and commentary. Those might be sub-topics you can dive into.
You really have to work your way backward. You have to know what you want and why you want to become an expert.
Take some time to brainstorm and figure this out. Remember that it’s better if you specialize. When you specialize, you can develop your expertise much more quickly. It’s so much easier to have a narrow focus. There’s less information to absorb and you do a better job with the information you do absorb.
It’s also a lot easier to make a splash when you go narrow (and deep) with a topic. There are probably fewer experts on the playing field. If your goal is to break through and be seen as an expert quickly, this may be the way to go for you.
Moving Forward With Your Topic
You don’t want to rush this decision. At the same time, it’s often not as difficult as some people make it out to be. Don’t kid yourself— if you’re stewing over this decision for days, weeks, months, or even years, there’s probably something else that’s holding you back. It might be that you’re scared to move forward. What if you fail? What if you don’t like the topic after all?
But remember, if you don’t move forward, time will anyway. If you’ve been delaying (a.k.a. procrastinating) for months or years, take stock of the situation, think where you would be now if you started those months or years ago, and how things would be different… then don’t repeat the procrastination again, or start it in the first place.
You need to approach this logically. Is this topic going to help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve? Is it narrow enough that you can quickly achieve expertise and become highly regarded for the audience? If it is, and you’re sure it suits your path, then you need to go with it.
By the way, most people aren’t experts on just one topic. Just because you choose this topic today doesn’t mean you can’t become an expert on an additional topic in the future. You’re probably already an expert on more than one topic (whether or not your current expertise suits your goals is another story).
Don’t take that as encouragement to skip around from topic to topic. If you want to succeed and become an expert, then you need to focus. Are you willing to dedicate yourself to this and really focus? It’s time to make it happen.