Imagine you had a time machine – whether it’s through a vehicle, teleporter, or a beam of light – that can take you back to your younger days when you were still in school. Is there something you wish you could do differently? Or something you wish you had learned when you had the chance?
Many people are discovering that what they learned in school did not help them find stable jobs, or survive adult life. For example, you realized those algebra classes didn’t help you to figure out why you owe $6,894.45 in taxes. Or the “A” you got in English class didn’t save your perfectly written product presentation from bombing.
But say you could change the past.
What are some of those real life skills that you wish were taught back when you were in school? And how would your life improve if you had those skills now? Here are some of the adult life skills that many people wish they had learned in school.Many people are discovering that what they learned in school did not help them find stable jobs, or survive adult life. Click To Tweet
How often do you say, “I’m busy” or “I don’t have time” because your to-do list includes working a full day, going to the gym, helping parents out with six errands, and then going to a friend’s birthday party – all within 24 hours?
It happens, and it’s easy to postpone what you need to do until the next day. But how do successful people with packed schedules manage their time?
Elon Musk, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and many others have the exact same number of hours every day that you and I do. Yet they have time to run companies and eat and sleep. How do they do it?
Here’s one alarming truth for most people: their to-do list is killing their productivity. What if you stopped creating long lists of everything you would like to do and started creating daily goals that you CAN achieve? How different would your productivity be?
Being busy isn’t worthwhile if you aren’t efficient with your time. Think of your time as an investment into your future. If you learn to manage it, you will have more time to spend on worthwhile activities, and you will be less stressed.
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” — Stephen R. Covey
Here is a list of tips for managing your time effectively.
Effective Time Management
1. Set SMART Goals
Use the SMART method to set goals that are achievable and measurable. You want to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
2. Prioritize Your Tasks
Take a close look at your daily tasks and determine if they are:
- Important and urgent: Do these tasks right away.
- Important but not urgent: Decide when to do these tasks.
- Urgent but not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
- Not urgent and not important: Set these aside to do later.
3. Remove Non-Essential Tasks
Decide what must be done before the day is over. If something is not essential, or not important, delegate it to someone else, set it aside for later, or remove it entirely from your to-do list.
4. Set Time Limits
Set a maximum time to complete each task. This will keep you more focused and efficient. If you realize you need more time to complete a task, readjust how much time you need. Also, take breaks between tasks to refresh and clear your head.
5. Organize For The Long Term
Use a calendar for long-term time management. Write down deadlines for projects and set deadlines for major goals (when to hit an income goal, when to learn a new skill for work).
6. Plan Ahead
Set your goals for the day and work until you achieve them. Then set goals for the following day. I have 5 goals that I absolutely must complete each day and I don’t leave the office until they are done.
Applications For Time Management
- Managing your time for your personal and professional life so your life is balanced.
- Managing time spent on tasks at your 9 to 5 job. Could you have finished a task in half the time if you had done it differently?
- Organizing the workload, deadlines, and tasks for your team if you have a leadership role.
- Watching time spent on tasks so you still have personal time if you are self employed, and you aren’t working on tasks that don’t move your business to the next level.
2. Critical Thinking
What is critical thinking? It’s how you find a solution when you’re about to kiss your dream girl or guy for the first time and your best friend calls you in tears because they just got fired.
It’s the skill you use when you have a client presentation in 15 minutes but your computer just died. What do you do on the spot?
How good are your critical thinking skills?
Employers want job candidates who can evaluate a situation using logical thought and come up with the best plan. Someone with strong critical thinking skills can independently make decisions on their own. That’s why critical thinking skills are sought-after in every industry and workplace.
If you own your own business, having solid critical thinking skills is just as important, whether you are the only person in your business, or you have employees.
How can you make yourself more valuable to your employer or to your own business?
Valuable Critical Thinking Skills
1. Analytical Skills
If you have strong analytical skills, you can examine information, and then understand what it means, and what it represents. You can always make inferences, identify biases, and decide on the relevance of information to the situation.
You need to be able to communicate with others to share your ideas or your solutions effectively. You engage in active listening to hear other people’s points of view.
To think critically, you must put aside any assumptions or judgments you have to analyze the information you receive. You need to be objective to evaluate ideas without bias.
4. Problem Solving
Problem solving is another crucial critical thinking skill that involves analyzing a problem, generating and implementing a solution, and assessing the success of the plan.
Critical thinking often involves some level of creativity. You might need to spot patterns in the information you are looking at or come up with a solution that no one else has thought of before. All of this involves a creative eye.Critical thinking skills are sought-after in every industry and workplace. Click To Tweet
Applications for Critical Thinking Skills
- Assessing an incoming phone call to decide if you should interrupt a meeting to ask the manager to answer it.
- Creating a contingency plan in case the audio visual equipment breaks down during a conference.
- Evaluating the merits of adjusting the water quality criteria for a river that runs through a city.
- Considering the impact of hiring a new employee versus updating much needed equipment.
3. Learning From Failures
Many people are taught to believe that failure is bad. But is it truly “bad”? Let’s say you burned your first oven roast. Or the swing set you put together for your niece collapsed with her on the swing (but she’s okay). Or you get disbarred before your family had a chance to celebrate your passing the bar exam?
Failure is inevitable, and if you think about it, some of the most painful lessons in our lives were also the most valuable.
What if you think about it this way: not all failures are created equal. Some are preventable (a mistake on a routine task), unpreventable (new situation – didn’t know which procedure to follow), or innovative (experimenting with new invention that fails).
Thomas Edison created the lightbulb… after 1,000 failed attempts. So let’s say he made one failed attempt a day – that would mean it took him 2 years and 9 months to reach success! But he didn’t give up. He focused on the positive.
Instead of blaming yourself or finding someone or something to blame for the failure, focus on the lesson.
Why Learn From Failures
After you fail, you will gain firsthand experience, which changes your mindset and your perception of what happened. For example, if you are rejected for a date, you will remember that more than watching a movie scene about rejection.
You gain firsthand knowledge, usually in a painful way after you realize what doesn’t work. For example, losing $5000 in the stock market will teach you more about investing than reading a book about the topic.
We build resilience – toughness – from our failures. If we never fail, we always think we will succeed, and the first time we don’t succeed… that moment will be extremely painful.
Failure causes growth. We find deeper meanings and understandings and mature from life’s lessons.
Think about the value you provide to others as a result of your failures. Thomas Edison provided us with the lightbulb after many failed attempts.Failure helps you to gain firsthand knowledge, usually in a painful way after you realize what doesn’t work. Click To Tweet
Applications for Learning From Failures
- A successful innovation takes many failures to create. If you give up after the first failure, you won’t improve. Imagine where we would be today if the people who invented phones, the internet, or computer gave up on the first try.
- Growth comes from failure. Imagine if everyone said Yes to everything you ever wanted. What would you be like as a person? Now think of all the times someone said No to you. What did you learn?
We become stronger when we go through a painful experience. But there are other ways to become stronger to face our biggest challenges in life.
4. Self Defense
Think about people you know who have taken self defence lessons or have a martial arts background. It can be your friend, family member, character in a movie, your martial arts teacher, or even yourself if you’ve learned self defence. What do you notice about these people?
I’m not just talking about their ability to punch at lightning speed or their physique. What do you notice about the way they walk? The way they talk?
There’s more to them than their ability to defend themselves if they are attacked. Learning martial arts or self defense has more than a practical or fitness application. Learning this skill can improve your personal and professional life. Bruce Lee, world renowned martial artist, teaches us how to be successful in life through kung fu.
Here are 5 benefits to learning self defense (besides the health and fitness benefits).Learning self defense improves your focus. If your mind wanders during self defense class, I can almost guarantee you, you’ll get hit. Click To Tweet
Why Learn Self Defense
1. Develop self-discipline.
You need to be motivated and committed to a practice schedule if you want to improve your skills. No practice, no improvement, no growth. This applies to any skill.
2. Build confidence.
Notice how people walk when they practice self defense. Notice the confident way they move and speak. If you’re being bullied, you’ll notice a difference when you face your tormentor.
3. Improve your focus.
Let’s face it, if your mind wanders during self defense class, I can almost guarantee you, you’ll get hit. Self defence requires you to focus on your target while controlling your body movements at the same time.
4. Improve your awareness.
Learning self defense will make you more aware of your surroundings in case you are attacked. In life and at work, it teaches you to anticipate what you don’t know and what you don’t see so you are more prepared.
5. Improve goal setting.
If you want to master self defense moves, you need to set goals. It will keep you focused so you practice regularly. If you make setting goals a habit, you will achieve more in other aspects of your life.
Applications for Self Defense
- Develop self discipline and be persistent even on days when you want to give up.
- Ability to focus on daily goals like working on a skill to get closer to accomplishing a bigger goal, like changing careers.
- Become more confident in tense situations, like asking for a raise at work, or asking the love of your life to marry you.
Watch this video about the practical applications of self defence. For example, what to do if you are suddenly attacked on the street.
5. Job Hunting
Life pre and post school can be jarringly opposite. Like staring at a reflection of yourself in the elevator door – you’re holding your new briefcase and wearing your new suit. Then the door slides open and you enter the adult world, falling down, down, until you land in a pile of grease and someone’s barking at you to hurry up with the order of fries and burgers.
Life isn’t what you dreamed at all.
So what can you do to improve your job search? How can you find the job that recognizes your true potential, and pays you what you’re worth? If your only means to impress a potential employer is to reduce your skills to a bunch of bullet points and paragraphs on a resume, how can you stand out?
Here are some top notch job search and resume writing tips.
Outstanding Job Search & Resume Writing Skills
1. Identify your skill sets.
First, you need to know what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing before you start your job search. Job titles are always changing from company to company and a job that fits your skill set may not have the job title you’re expecting.
2. Look for both listed and unlisted jobs.
Don’t limit your search to job postings on job sites. Look on company websites for postings. Connect with people from the company. Network in person. Getting referrals from your network is one way to search for jobs. But don’t spam people to get jobs.
3. Shoot a video.
Shoot a video about yourself and send that in with your application so your potential employer can get a sense of your personality. Many people are too shy to get in front of the camera.
4. Use your copywriting skills.
Craft a resume and cover letter that sells your talents. Don’t sound like other people with a dry, bulleted list of your skills. Write copy that’s persuasive and makes you memorable.
5. Create a professional profile.
Create a professional profile on LinkedIn that is like an online resume and use a professional headshot. If you have a Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest account, review your photos and their accessibility. Could you ruin your chances of being hired if your employer saw your photos?Craft a resume and cover letter that sells your talents. Don’t sound like other people with a dry, bulleted list of your skills. Write copy that’s persuasive and makes you memorable. Click To Tweet
Applications For Job Search Skills
- Your ability to find job postings, both the ones that are listed and the ones that aren’t, show your resourcefulness.
- Your professional photos and profile becomes part of your brand on social media.
7. Networking Skills
Imagine going to yet another networking event… but as an introvert, you’re not dreading meeting strangers. You remember people’s names, you’re meeting interesting people, and you’re actually excited about adding some new contacts to your phone. But have you done enough? Should you be doing more than collecting names?
Networking events are one way to find job opportunities. But it’s also a way to find new clients for your employer or your business.
Networking Skills To Develop
1. Be a good listener.
Be an active, not passive listener. Nod to show agreement or repeat a key point the other person said to show you were listening. Check your body language. Does your body position say that you are interested in listening or are your arms crossed very tightly?
2. Ask good questions.
Asking good questions shows that you were listening and shows that you care. Stay positive and be sensitive about asking a question that could offend the other person.
3. Be sincere and authentic.
When you pay attention to what the other person is saying and you show a genuine interest in the other person, you will have a better connection. People can sense if you’re talking to them to get their contact information because you want to apply to their company.
4. Make contacts with “friends”.
When you’re networking, act as though you’re connecting with potential friends. Of course you want to stay professional, but when you think of people that way, you won’t just be collecting names. You’ll be meeting people you could help professionally, or they might connect you to job possibilities in the future.When you’re networking, act as though you’re connecting with potential friends. Don't just collect names. Click To Tweet
Applications for Networking
- Finding jobs that aren’t listed on job sites.
- Finding clients for your business or company.
- Meeting new friends or professional contacts.
7. Speeches, Presentations, Negotiations
Imagine lightning bolts shooting down from the sky. You reach out, grab each bolt, and hurl them back from where they came. Imagine having this kind of power, to be able to take control of a situation, calm the customer, and get applause from your team.
And you didn’t even break out in a sweat. You knew exactly which words to say to calm the situation, with the ease of reading words off a teleprompter.
That’s the power of negotiation, or winning the crowd for a speech or a presentation. Many people join a group called Toastmasters to learn public speaking skills because they realize the value of having strong speaking skills.
Here are some tips for learning how to present a speech or negotiate.
Effective Speech, Presentation, and Negotiation Skills
1. Be prepared.
Practice your speech or presentation until you can say it in your sleep. If you don’t practice enough, you won’t feel confident during the delivery of your speech or presentation.
2. Be conversational.
People enjoy stories more than statistics. When you’re giving your speech or presentation, talk to each person in the audience like you’re having a conversation with them. Vary the volume in your voice, and use conversational vocabulary.
3. Use visual aids.
Visual aids and props can bring your speech or presentation to life. For example, PowerPoint slides, objects, or photos.
4. Use appropriate gestures and body language.
Watching a stick person isn’t entertaining. Take a confident stance. Use eye contact to involve your audience. Emphasize important points by moving your hands or whole body. Your body language is important for speeches and presentations, but especially when negotiating. If you don’t look confident, you won’t win many negotiations.
5. Be confident and maybe a little intimidating.
Strong negotiation skills are important in business and can increase the profits of your company. It’s better to be a bit intimidating than easygoing and people will respect you more.People enjoy stories more than statistics. When you’re giving your speech or presentation, talk to each person in the audience like you’re having a conversation with them. Click To Tweet
Applications for Speech, Presentation and Negotiation Skills
- Negotiating with your landlord about keeping your dog as a pet; negotiating with your parents about conditions for paying off money that you borrow from them.
- Making a PowerPoint presentation at work to inform you team about new procedures that the company will implement.
- Giving a speech to a crowd of hundreds to persuade them to vote about an issue you are passionate about.
- Closing deals and earning high commissions (possibly making $100 a day for one close) on the phone as a High Ticket Closer.
8. Writing Skills
What if you could get rid of writer’s block forever? That dreaded writer’s block has followed you around since your school years like a stubborn cold you can’t beat.
Except when you were in school, you had book reports and essays. Then you got your first job, then your first career, and you realized those writing projects didn’t prepare you for the type of writing you do as an adult.
Here are some examples of writing that you should learn for adult life. Some of these require accuracy, but not a lot of creativity… good news if you struggle with writer’s block.
Writing Skills You Should Learn
Using words to persuade people to do what you want to is very useful and this skill can be applied to many types of writing, not just marketing.
2. Email and letter writing.
Email has become a primary way of communicating with customers or team members to clarify an issue or request.
3. Reports and memos.
Writing a memo to update your supervisor about a situation. Write an annual operating report.
4. Records and logs.
Fill out a daily log about your work activities. Keeping accurate records about a client.Learn copywriting... you can use it to persuade people to do what you want to and this skill can be applied to many types of writing. Click To Tweet
Applications For Writing Skills
- Using copywriting skills to write a letter of understanding to the caterer about several issues that occurred at a large wedding.
- Writing emails that are only a few paragraphs long, but must be clear in meaning and error free to maintain a level of professionalism.
- Completing an accident report about an incident that happened during your shift. Details must be accurate and your report could be used if there is a lawsuit.
- Writing details in a daily log about the condition of the equipment you are using. The log must be accurate and clear because if there are equipment mishaps, the log will be used to troubleshoot any problems.
9. Money Management
How often do you hear people say, “I’m not good at math”? In a sense, it’s become an excuse for not learning or not doing a math-related task. But if your expenses are $9,345 for the month, and your monthly income is $4,500, that excuse won’t make you feel better.
But imagine you are a whiz at money management because you’ve been gifted with a math genie. What would that be like? If your credit card debt is spiraling out of control, poof, you can make it disappear. If you’re struggling to make your budget work so you can set aside money for savings and vacations, poof, your genie will multiply the number in your savings account.
But say you want to have your own math genie now. What are some skills that you should learn?
Money Management Skills You Should Learn
1. Calculating total costs.
Calculating the cost of something, including the amount for discounts, currency conversions, taxes, extra fees, or other miscellaneous costs.
2. Making cost comparisons.
Doing research for the costs for Option A, compared to Option B, such as two phone plans, or two vacation options.
3. Creating schedules and budgets for your own accounting.
Keeping track of your expenses, including when bills are due, when you get paid (schedules), how much to set aside for savings, and paying off credit cards and other debts (accounting).
4. Reading bills and account statements.
Reading and understanding information from credit card and utility bills, and bank account statements. Using this information to decide on a debt payment schedule or estimating when you’ll have extra cash to make a purchase.
5. Forecasting prices and costs for future budgets.
Making plans for a future financial situation, taking into consideration how much money you would need to cover those future costs. For example, paying for a major expense after you get a raise or change jobs.How often do you hear people say, “I’m not good at math”? That excuse won't help you to pay off bills or calculate how much money you need to save. Click To Tweet
Applications for Money Management
- Calculate the cost of buying a new smartphone, after paying taxes and deducting the discount. Also, consider whether it would be cheaper to get it delivered vs the cost of transit or gas to go and pick it up yourself. (money math)
- What fits your budget better? A flight to Europe for a one week vacation, including cost of hotels, public transportation, food, and other miscellaneous costs. Or, a three week road trip around the country, including costs of hotels, car rental, gas, food, and other miscellaneous costs. (budgeting math)
- Creating a budget plan for a future financial situation so you can set goals on how to make the future plan affordable. For example, moving to a new building that has higher rent costs, and figuring out if money from a few extra work shifts, or a second part time job, will cover that future cost. (budgeting and accounting math)
10. Leadership Skills
Should you learn leadership skills if you want to become a CEO, team leader, or even if you don’t have dreams to be a leader at all? To answer that question, let me ask you this.
What if you’re on a sports team, and your team captain is busy, so everyone sits around, waiting to be told what to do? Now imagine how different the situation would be if everyone took initiative all the time, taking responsibility for their training and working together as a team?
It’s not about what job title or position you expect to have in your career. Leadership skills are the key to workplace success. Here are some leadership skills that are must-haves.
Leadership Skills For Career Success
Being able to clearly explain your ideas is important, whether it is one-on-one or to a group.
If you are motivated to achieve your goals, you could inspire others and become valuable to your team. If you are a leader, being able to motivate others is even more important.
If you take on too many tasks by yourself, you will struggle to get things done. Learn to delegate, whether you are a leader or not.
Take responsibility for your successes and failures. Also, reflect on what went well (so you can repeat that success) and what needs to be improved (so you can learn from your failures).
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is our ability to understand and manage our emotions. When you have high emotional intelligence, you have more social awareness. You learn from criticism. You also have empathy – you praise others, forgive when they make mistakes, and give feedback to help others improve.Leadership is not about what job title or position you expect to have in your career. Leadership skills are the key to workplace success. Click To Tweet
Applications For Leadership
- Teaching other people a new skill so that the entire team can now more efficiently complete a task.
- Taking the lead and showing initiative for a work project when you notice that there is a more efficient way to get a task done.
- If you can motivate and help others, you will get their respect and the respect of your supervisor, which will move your career forward.
- If you have leadership qualities, you can attract clients and business partners.
If you’ve wished you could relive your past, you aren’t the only one. We can’t go back to our school years when we realize how unprepared we are for adult life.
However, there are practical, real life skills we can learn now, such as time management, critical thinking, and learning from our failures. These will help us to improve how efficiently we function every day.
We can also learn skills that increase our chances for getting better job opportunities, such as self defence, job search skills, and networking skills. These skills help with our mindset and ability to be resourceful.
Finally, we can also learn transferable skills that will increase our success at any career. They are also skills that are needed to make a high income. These skills include public speaking skills, writing, money management, and leadership.