25 Essential Skills I Wish Somebody Taught Me When I Was Younger
“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery
Super Mario. The crazy little Italian-American plumber that shaped my childhood.
I used to spend hours and hours sitting in front of my TV, helping that little guy save his pixelated princess from the bad guys.
In case you played it, you might have noticed that it’s challenging to advance from one level to another if you don’t collect mushrooms that make you bigger and give you the ability to throw fireballs.
Life is like a game. Like a Super Mario game.
But in life, you are the character, and you need to find your own “mushrooms” that help you grow and excel. The trick is that they aren’t identically shaped and available in the same familiar places every time.
Your mushroom could be anything that helps you evolve as a person.
Your starting point doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have 24 hours in front of you and you need to use them in the best possible way.
But you have to keep one thing in mind:
The world is shifting and evolving rapidly. And if you are not changing or evolving with the times, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re stagnating, or merely going backward.
The good news is, for those who attempt to reach their maximum, the rewards are enormous.
The only problem is that ever since we were young, more attention was placed on knowing that mitochondria is a powerhouse of the cell, which didn’t help much in our adult life.
It’s never too late, so here’s a list of 25 essential how-to’s that will help you be more successful and grow exponentially.
1. How to Develop Self-Awareness
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ― C.G. Jung
To be “awakened,” you have to understand your life story and which events shaped you into the person you are today?
Gaining clarity on these crucial moments will help you learn more about yourself and why you behave in a certain way.
This will also help you find out when your core strengths came to life and how you can use them to grow as a person.
Not only that, but it will help you gain clarity on what direction in life you want to take.
2. How to Create a Personal Philosophy
“Your Personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out.” — Jim Rohn
We, humans, have some rules and norms that we grew up with. But as you gain self-awareness, you need to start relying more on your internal compass.
In the backstage of merely “feeling” that something is right or not, there is a conscious evaluation of your situation according to your values and previous experiences.
That’s why it’s essential to determine your values and beliefs toward the world, not only to understand how you make decisions but also use them to guide your life.
3. How to Create Your Vocation
I don’t think we are all placed on Earth with a purpose.
But, I do believe that throughout the life, we discover what we are good at and what we love to do.
If you are willing to put some effort into it, you can combine these two and find an opportunity out there, that will allow you to both enjoy something, and accomplish success.
So, vocation consists out of:
- Your Talents — what are you good at?
- Your Passions — what do you love to do?
- World Opportunities — what opportunities are out there for you to take or create?
Play around, experiment, and you will be able to find yours. But understand that this is a never-ending process.
4. How to Set Goals
Goals work like a lens of a camera.
If you set the focus correctly, you will be able to take a clear picture.
If it is out of focus, your picture will be blurry.
“I want to lose 4 pounds (2 kg) of fat by June 15th.”
is far better goal than: “I want to lose weight.”
Even though it is positive, it’s not specific and focused.
All you need to do is set the goals that will indeed make the difference in your life and go one day at the time.
5. How to Visualize Your Path
“I keep having vivid dreams of success. Then it’s time to sleep.” — Connor McGregor
Goal-setting is something your “conscious brain” can do.
The conscious brain is great at imagining things and thinking them through,but it’s next to useless when it comes to getting things done because it is easily distracted.
The subconscious mind sees a complete picture of everything happening all at once and is aware of the input coming from all of your senses at every moment.
These two work hand in hand to help you out.
By adding details, a clear path, and emotion of how it would feel if you already achieved it, you trick your mind into believing that it is already capable of achieving it.
But, remember, visualization is one side of the coin.
Hard work and dedication is the other side.
6. How to Form and Break Habits
“I will form good habits and become their slave.” — Og Mandino
Just like math, we tend to have a negative connotation towards habits.
Because of that, it’s better to think of them as rituals or routines.
Define what your most essential habits are, something that will affect each area of your life (i.e., healthy diet & exercise).
Then start implementing one by one, as if they are part of who you are, and not something you have to do.
There is a big difference between wanting a summer body and exercising because that’s who you are.
It’s not easy; it will take some practice until you change your perception and start thinking this way.
But start small and start with one habit at a time.
7. How to Create a Healthy Regimen
If you want to achieve anything in life, everything starts here.
First you have to take care of your health, and there are only two things you need to keep in mind:
- Healthy Diet
- Physical Activity
Your job is to find the right diet to get you to your ideal weight, and then learn how to maintain it.
While at the same time you should find the right physical activity to supplement your diet, and then fall in love with it.
Remember, the goal is to do this for life, because remaining healthy is something you are, not something you do.
8. How to Accelerate Your Learning
Everything we are and everything we’ve achieved thus far is because of our ability to learn.
People that operate on a high level, they are nothing more than extremely efficient at acquiring new skills and implementing them in their areas of focus.
The best way to accelerate your learning is to make it supplementary.
Learning is just a HOW-TO for accomplishing your goals.
Well, your goals are nothing more than activities you need to do. If you want to know how to perform those activities, you need skills.
All you need to do is define what goals you want to achieve, and what skills you need to acquire to make it easier.
9. How to Intentionally Consume Information
As I mentioned earlier, we are often over-cluttered with information, especially on what Kardashians have been up to recently.
Btw, did you know that Kylie is pregnant?!!
You get what I am saying?
Everywhere you go, you have information that is distracting you from the things you need to do, and things that you want to do.
So make sure to control how you search and use information.
Otherwise, you will wake up 3 hours later on Youtube watching a random cat video that has no use for your life.
10. How to Read Better
Everyone is focused on the idea of becoming a faster reader, while there are so many tips you should focus on, to become a better reader.
When I say that I mean being able to apply what you have read, not just forget it or store it in the back of your head.
To become a better reader, you need to approach reading anything with a specific intent.
By defining your goals (personal or professional gain), establishing one thing that you are trying to get out of a book (or an article), and skimming through the table of contents and taking notes, you will be able to retain much more information than you ever thought possible.
11. How to Focus
Every person has something that can get them in the ZONE.
Oh man, when you’re there. Nothing exists.
Just you and your goal.
What majority of people seem to miss, is that this state is something you can learn to trigger on command. But first, you need to look back.
To determine how you’ve entered a state of flow before, just ask yourself a question:
When is the last time I was so deeply focused on what was in front of me?
Once you find specific activity. Ask yourself the following question:
Why was I so deeply focused? What helped me be that immersed?
For me, it takes playing good music on headphones and a goal I deeply care about to be fully immersed.
12. How to Be Productive
Maybe I have a professional deformation, but I profoundly believe that this skill is the most crucial of all.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” – Bill Gates
Since the time you have is your most valuable resource, you need to learn how to use it in the best possible way.
To do that, you need to answer two questions:
1. What do I want to achieve in life?
2. How do I need to use my time to accomplish that?
You need to pay attention and figure out how you can get more time in your life, and use it in a better way.
One of the easiest ways to become better at this is to go one day at the time.
13. How to Be a Better Decision Maker
“The more decisions you make, the better you’ll become at making them. Musclesget stronger with use, and so it is with your decision-making muscles.” – Tony Robbins
The reality is not every decision you make will be a good one, but that should never stop you from taking action.
That’s why you should use your critical thinking skills to evaluate and analyze the situation you are in. Now you can be sure that every decision is heading on the right path.
Even if you make a mistake, draw a learning point out of it and use it for the next step.
You will become wiser on every step.
14. How to Manage Stress
To manage stress, you need to discover the sources of it.
Ask yourself a question:
“What are the most common and repetitive sources of my frustrations?”
Once you discover them, the next thing to do is to create strategies to deal with them.
- Long-term strategy — this strategy should be done upfront, in a way that allows you to organize yourself so you can minimize or eliminate previously mentioned sources (i.e. if you constantly get stressed about traffic on your way to work, find a way to fix it)
- Short-term strategy — it often happens that something unexpected arises that is out of your control, that’s why you need to have a list of possible activities you can do, to relax and reduce the overwhelm on the spot (i.e. your colleague pisses you off > immediately you stop talking, breathe and take a walk, or play your favorite music)
This approach will not only make you better at managing stress, but it will also help you be more problem solving oriented, because you will be able to pinpoint causes faster and relax much easier to focus on solutions.
15. How to Meditate
You are always on the move.
So much so that it feels weird if you stop and do nothing.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb
Because of this, it’s important to teach yourself how to make a pause in your day and life so that you could ground and calibrate yourself.
Meditation is one of the simple ways you can achieve this. And even though everyone seems to suggest another way of meditating, I suggest you follow one rule.
Do whatever suits you.
If you want to sit down for 2 minutes and breathe, do that. If you want to lie down for 15 minutes and think, do that. Just find something that suits you and try it.
16. How to Be Alone
“The person that you will spend the most time within your life is yourself, so better try to make yourself as interesting as possible.” — Unknown
Ever since you were born, you’ve been surrounded by people.
Because of that, we are not accustomed to moments when we are alone for a couple of hours, without human interaction.
In these rare moments, just try to be present and reflect on your inner thoughts.
You will be amazed, how much you will learn about yourself and how much it will help you crystallize certain things.
17. How to Be Creative
“Don’t die with your music still in you.” – Wayne Dyer
The majority of people don’t consider themselves traditionally creative.
However, I’ve come to realize that some people are different in non-traditional ways, and that if you experiment enough, you can learn to unleash your specific way of creativity.
The first step is to look back and see if you can find some pattern when your creativity was useful and when you did something and amazed not only yourself, but everyone else present.
18. How to Write for Pleasure
There’s a lot of incredible ideas just waiting to be materialized through the ink, or a keyboard. All you have to do is start.
You don’t have to become an author.
But just create a ritual out of putting your thoughts on a piece of paper. This will help you in more ways than one, and it will contribute a lot to understanding yourself better.
19. How to Tell a Story
This is probably one of the most useful skills you can ever develop.
You don’t have to be a professional storyteller, but you do need to learn how to get your ideas out there, and to do so in an interesting way.
There are some tips for this, but the golden rule is:
“People never know what you will say when you start speaking.”
So go on, tell a story or share an idea.
You never know how it can change someone’s life.
20. How to Communicate with Other People
I hate chit-chat.
Nothing drains my energy like talking about the weather. And I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
So I decided to do something about it and created a sort of “How-To Guide for Creating Unforgettable Conversations.”
There are two parts to this:
What YOU are saying and what THEY are saying.
First, we will focus on what you are trying to say.
There are three important things here:
- Message — What is the one specific message you are trying to transfer
- Sequence — How do you want to present your message?
- Emotion — What emotion do you want to leave your conversation partner with?
Even though I’ve covered what you will say first, I am sorry to disappoint you–it’s not the most important part.
The quality of your conversations depends on how well you can listen to your conversation partner and respond accordingly.
So let’s cover the second part: what are they trying to tell you.
Again, three important things here:
- Story — What significant events happened in that person’s life that shaped them or lead them to engage in their career?
- Next Chapter — What is the next step in their life? What is something they aspire to do?
- Message — What message are they trying to transfer to you?
This might be a bit overwhelming. But just start simple, and it will become natural over time.
21. How to Be Persuasive (aka Sell)
Whether you like it or not, your success in your personal and professional life highly depends on your ability to sell yourself, your ideas, products or services.
The primary purpose of persuasiveness is to place the other person in agreement with your point of view. Without being a jerk in the process.
You will go a long way if you abide by the following: remain calm, strive for a win-win, and be sure to express the needs and benefits of the other party.
Remember that 90% of the quarrels erupt due to a wrong tone of voice.
Only 10% of the quarrels are due to differences in opinion.
22. How to Say NO
“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” — James Allen
How many times you’ve said yes to something (an event or gathering), even though you’ve seen no value in it?
That’s why you need to reframe the act of saying NO like this:
“You are not saying NO to others; you are saying YES to yourself and things that are important to you.”
The point is not to ever feel guilt-tripped into doing something you don’t want to do. Especially if it goes against your values, or if it doesn’t support your goals.
Always choose to focus on doing something you love.
23. How to Develop a Personal Brand
You are always telling a story of your life, through the things you choose to focus on a daily basis.
That’s why you need to think of yourself as a market niche.
There will be a lot of people who like that niche, and there will be individuals who don’t. And no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make the entire market like you.
This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to justify yourself.
The only thing you can do is to remain authentic, improve and provide value every day — while continuing to tell your story.
24. How to Create (and maintain) a Right Network of People
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ― Jim Rohn
Building a network is trying to find inspiring people that share the same values, beliefs, and interests as you do.
Where you can provide value to them and they can return the favor (value can be even food for thought).
The majority of success and happiness comes from interacting and working with amazing people that drive you to achieve more personally and professionally, and vice-versa.
25. How to Make Money Work for You
Earning money only to save it is like acquiring a skill, only to leave it in the back of your head for the next 20 years.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t save, but it means that you shouldn’t only save.
Always be on a lookout for another source of income (ideally passive one), and investment opportunities — something that has a high chance to give a good return on investment.
Start small, and experiment.
Oh man, that was long.
If you are reading this, congratulations!
You must be wondering where you should begin?
Well, just pick one and start.
Some of these can be learned within several hours, while some require more than that.
But, you have to know that learning even one of these skills can help you grow exponentially and give you incredible results in every area of your life.