There are a lot of skills you don’t need. You can be happy and successful without knowing how to rebuild a car’s engine, program a web application, or replace drywall. Sure, these are useful skills to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary.
There are other skills, however, that can’t be avoided – skills that tie into various aspects of everyday life, that are not only useful, but totally indispensable. For instance, you can’t get far in today’s world without being able to read or write. And today the ability use a computer proficiently is simply assumed.
In this article we’re going to skip the super basic skills like reading, driving, and using a computer, and discuss twelve slightly more advanced skills that are woefully under-taught, and universally applicable. Let’s take a look…
1. Prioritizing and time management. – If success depends on effective action, effective action depends on the ability to focus your attention where it is needed most, when it is needed most. This is the ability to separate the important from the unimportant, which is a much needed skill in all walks of life, especially where there are ever increasing opportunities and distractions.
2. Keeping a clean, organized space. – Successful people have systems in place to help them find what they need when they need it – they can quickly locate the information required to support their activities. When you’re disorganized, that extra time spent looking for a phone number, email address or a certain file forces you to drop your focus. Once it’s gone, it takes a while to get it back – and that’s where the real time is wasted. Keeping both your living and working spaces organized is crucial.
3. Critical thinking and information analysis. – We are living in the information age where, on a daily basis, we are constantly exposed to an ever growing and rapidly changing pool of information. Being able to evaluate this information, sort the valuable from the trivial, analyze its relevance and meaning, and relate it to other information is a priceless skill with universal applicability.
4. Logical, informed decision making. – Decision making is simply knowing what to do based on the information available. Being able to respond quickly and effectively with the information you have in your head is essential to accomplishing anything.
5. Using Google proficiently for online research. – You don’t have to know everything, but you should be able to quickly and painlessly find out what you need to know. Google is a gateway to nearly infinite knowledge; it has indexed websites containing information on just about everything and everyone. If you’re having trouble finding something using Google, it’s time to learn a few new tricks.
6. Basic accounting and money management. – It’s a simple fact that our modern society is governed by the constant exchange of money. Money allows you to maintain a roof over your head and put food on the table each night. Knowing how to properly manage your money – tracking and recording your expenses and income, saving and investing – is not only an important skill for thriving, it’s an important skill that helps you survive.
7. Effective communication and negotiating. – Give the people in your life the information they need rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Don’t try to read other people’s minds, and don’t make other people try to read yours. Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationship, start with bad communication. Speak honestly, and then give others a voice and show them that their words matter. And remember that compromise and effective negotiating are vital parts of effective communication.
8. Relaxation. – Stress leads to poor health, poor decision-making, poor thinking, and poor socialization. So be attentive to your stress level and take short breaks when you need to. Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity, and allow you to reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
9. Proficient writing and note-taking. – The written word isn’t going away; it is used in every walk of life. Learning to write proficiently so that others can understand you is critical. Also, using your writing skills to take useful notes is one of the most productive things you can do, regardless of the task at hand. Writing things down – taking notes – helps us remember what we hear, see, or read when we’re learning something new, or trying to remember something specific.
10. Relationship networking. – In a world dominated by constant innovation and information exchange, relationship networking creates the channel through which ideas and information flow, and in which new ideas are shared, discussed and perfected. A large relationship network, carefully cultivated, can be leveraged to meet the right people, find jobs, build businesses, learn about new trends, spread ideas, etc.
11. Positivity. – Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. A great attitude always leads to great experiences. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times. Be positive, smile, and make it count. Pretend today is going to be great. Do so, and it will be.
12. Self-discipline. – Self-discipline is a skill. It is the ability to focus and overcome distractions. It involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. It often requires sacrificing the pleasure and thrill for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to succeed in the long-term.
What did we miss? What are some other useful life skills that are universally applicable? Leave a comment below and let everyone know.
Photo by: Zack Schnepf