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50 difficult things to learn that will benefit you forever 

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There’s never been a better (or easier)  time to learn new skills and improve your life for good!

Happy and successful people are constantly upskilling themselves, so why not make 2022 your year of improvement?

The below 50 skills have been broken up into the following categories:

  • Life necessities
  • General skills
  • Health and fitness
  • Emotional and mental skills
  • Finances and career

Let’s jump straight in!

Life necessities

1) The basics of cooking

If boiling an egg or making a sandwich ends in disaster for you, you need to get in the kitchen and start learning the basics of cooking!

Granted, not every recipe is easy to follow, but learning some handy basics will save you money on dining out and will improve your diet (more on that later).

Take it nice and simple – start by Googling easy-to-follow recipes, get the ingredients you need, and off you go!

2) Cleanliness and hygiene

While keeping clean and hygienic isn’t necessarily difficult, it can be time-consuming.

But, as we’ve seen with the pandemic, it’s a hugely important life skill to have. Not only do you reduce the risk of spreading germs, but it can be vital for mental health too.

Why?

Because a clutter-free space = a clutter-free mind!

Quick tip: Youtube will be your best friend in learning basic cleanliness and hygiene.

From keeping yourself clean to removing nasty germs from your mobile phone (yes, your phone is dirtier than you think), there’s a wealth of quick solutions to help you stay clean.

3) Self-defense

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman – self-defense is essential.

You never know when you’ll need to ward off someone unwanted or help another person in need.

Nowadays, you don’t even need to leave the house to learn self-defense. Get the basics down by finding an online tutor, and when you feel ready for some one-on-one practice, sign up for local classes in your area!

4) Basic survival skills

It’s easy to assume you don’t need basic survival skills like finding clean drinking water or making a fire – most of us live pretty comfortably without worrying about these issues.

But what if things go wrong on your next hike and you’re stuck in the wilderness for a few days?

What if your country goes to war and electricity and water supplies are cut off?

It may sound extreme, and they may not be easy skills to learn, but better to be safe than sorry!

Check out the Wilderness Aware School’s guide to essential survival skills to get started.

5) First aid

I recently took part in a first aid training course – trust me, performing CPR or the Heimlich maneuver isn’t as easy as they make it look in the films!

A first aid course won’t only make you more aware when you face a medical emergency, but critically, you’ll learn how to help those around you.

Is there a better skill to invest in? I don’t think so!

While you can read about emergency first aid online, I’d highly recommend finding a medical training service in your area.

Nothing can prepare you for a real emergency, but practicing beforehand will make a big difference.

6) How to deal with an emergency situation

Continuing on from first aid, there are different types of emergency situations that you need to learn about:

  • Fires
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Gas leaks
  • Chemical spills
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis

The list could go on! Not all emergency situations will be relevant to you, but finding out the risks of where you live could potentially save lives.

Once you’ve identified the risks most likely to happen to you, memorize the steps you need to take in the event that it happens – better to be prepared with a plan than floundering around in panic!

7) Make and keep friends

Why is making friends essential?

Well, humans are social beings. We aren’t lone wolves, as much as some of us might like to say we are…and being lonely can have detrimental effects on our wellbeing.

We need comfort, support, and love from others. Now, you may get that from your family, but if you don’t, knowing how to invest in good friendships can be a lifesaver.

If you struggle to make and keep friends, check out Psychology Today’s guide here.

8) How to think critically

There are so many ways that critical thinking will benefit your life. Just a few include:

  • Improve communication
  • Helps you to express your opinions and thoughts
  • Stops you from blindly following what you’re told
  • Improves focus and goal setting
  • Promotes problem-solving

There are a number of excellent books on the subject, so head down to your local bookstore or library, or search on Kindle.

This is a difficult skill that will no doubt change your life, so well worth reading into!

9) How to read a map

Yes, I know, we’ve all got smartphones and Google Maps to give us directions. But what happens when your phone dies or you’ve got no access to the internet?

You’ll need to resort to good old-fashioned map reading!

You probably touched upon this in a geography lesson at school, but it’s time to refresh those skills.

Check out this breakdown by WikiHow to get started.

General skills

1) Drive a car

If you live in the center of a cosmopolitan city like London or New York, you might not feel the need to drive a car (understandably so!).

However, there’s nothing to stop you from learning to drive. This is a skill that’ll take a number of practical lessons alongside learning the theory of driving.

It’s not cheap, and for some, it’s not easy. But it is worth it.

Because once you’ve got your license under your belt, you’re free to buy or rent a car whenever the need arises!

2) How to communicate in different languages

Speaking a different language is highly beneficial in so many ways:

  • You can get to know people from different countries
  • Your job opportunities widen
  • You can travel without feeling restricted
  • You actually become more intelligent (learning a new language improves focus and concentration)

Not sure where to start?

Applications like DuoLingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone will allow you to fluently learn a language from the comfort of your own home!

And if you’re on a budget? There are tons of free resources online, and you could even reach out on social media or forums to do a language exchange with someone who speaks your desired language!

3) Organizational skills

Being organized will help you out in every area of your life; work, hobbies, social life, you name it!

Learn how to organize your time effectively, and you’ll find that you’re more productive and less tired and stressed.

And, by learning how to organize your home/office, you’ll also save time rummaging around for your keys or wallet every morning!

Lifehack has put together 10 things really organized people do – this is a great place to get started. Remember, take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be a pro at organization!

4) How to communicate effectively

Communication is at the heart of everything – all our relationships at home and at work depend on it.

So how can you improve your communication skills to get ahead in life?

  • Learn how to listen properly
  • Think before replying
  • Adapt how you communicate according to WHO you’re talking to
  • Keep a check on your body language

For more valuable ways to improve your communication skills, check out these excellent tips by Right Management.

5) The basic principles of philosophy

Philosophy is important to know and understand on an individual level but it’s also a massive contributor to the societies we live in.

By learning about the basic principles of philosophy, you’ll learn to:

  • Think critically
  • Research better
  • Problem-solve with ease
  • Ask the right questions
  • Lead a better life by making good decisions

Now, you might feel overwhelmed by how much there is to discover in the world of philosophy, but that’s where you’ll need to break it down.

I recommend reading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. You’ll be introduced to the basics of philosophy without feeling overloaded.

6) Basic car repair skills

Even if you don’t drive, there’s going to be plenty of times where you’re sitting in the vehicle of a friend, colleague, or Uber.

And let’s face it, cars break down…all the time! So, knowing how to change a tire, jump-start the engine, or top up the oil is an important skill to learn.

Not only will you get to your destination faster, but you’ll also save money on having to call out a mechanic!

Check out Ben Wojdyla’s Youtube video on basic automotive maintenance for some handy tips.

7) How to sew/patch clothing

You never know when the hem of your top might suddenly come undone, or your favorite scarf develops a hole.

That’s why knowing how to do basic sewing or patching of your clothes can come in handy.

And while some people attribute this as a feminine skill, some of the best fashion designers out there are men (and yes, they know how to sew!).

Check out this introduction to sewing video to get started. Who knows, you might enjoy its therapeutic benefits as well as its practical advantages!

8) Play an instrument

Not only is playing an instrument soothing and relaxing, but it’s also really cool. It’s a great hobby to take on and make no mistake, you’ll be a big hit at social gatherings if you’re brave enough to play a tune for your friends.

But with that in mind, it’s a hobby that’ll require a good few hours of practice a week.

The good news though – you no longer need to pay extortionate prices to go to a music school. There are tons of free instrument tutorials on Youtube.

The question is…which instrument captures your fancy?

9) Organize a trip

If you haven’t already single-handedly organized a trip yet, you probably underestimate how tough it is.

Most of us rely on our parents, partners, friends, even the holiday agency to make travel plans. But when you take things into your own hands, you realize just how much you need to organize…

  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Day trips and excursions
  • Transport/a way to get around your destination
  • Suitable food options (especially if a member of the group has allergies/intolerances to certain food)

And a million other things that’ll undoubtedly crop up during the trip! But that’s the beauty of it…when you are in charge, you realize how much you rely on your instincts and organization to get through it all.

It’s an incredibly beneficial life skill to learn – excellent for boosting self-confidence.

10) DIY/home repairs

Home DIY is all the craze at the moment, thanks to lockdowns and Covid, we’ve all turned our attention to doing up our homes!

But make no mistake – it takes time to learn the skills needed to plaster a wall or install a new shelving unit.

The upside?

You save a ton of money on hiring someone else to do it, and you’ll reap the satisfaction of seeing your handy work every time you walk into the room!

This Youtube video for beginners will give you a few funky ideas to try out, or, clear your evening and settle in with Pinterest, there’s enough there to keep you going for years!

11) How to research properly

If there’s one thing you’ve learned so far in this article, it’s that the internet is an amazing place to learn new skills.

But that’s only if you know how to research properly.

And there’s another reason why knowing how to conduct thorough research is important; fake news.

You’ve probably seen this term crop up quite a lot, and for good reason. So, if you don’t want to fall victim to scams, fake news, and harmful propaganda, this WikiHow guide will tell you the correct way to conduct research.

12) Plant/garden

Another useful skill many people picked up during lockdown was gardening. Confined to our houses, we sought comfort and distraction in potted plants and balcony gardens.

But why is planting/gardening so beneficial in the long run?

Well, think of it this way…if there’s ever a food shortage where you live, wouldn’t you like to know how to grow your own fruit and vegetables?

Aside from the pretty aesthetics of gardening, it can also be a life-saving skill in times of crisis. Check out these top 10 gardening tips for beginners.

13) Networking

Another general skill to learn that’ll benefit you forever is the art of networking. This is where you make an effort to meet and keep in contact with people.

Most associate this within their respective work industries, but people who make a habit of networking wherever they go tend to find it makes their life easier in the long run.

Think about it this way – every single person you meet has something beneficial to offer. You never know when you’ll need their help or advice with something, so never miss out on the opportunity to take their card or phone number down.

14) Photography

Photography is much more than just taking pics on your phone. If you want to go really deep, you can learn how to use a professional camera.

But with that being said, incredible imagery and video have been captured on a standard iPhone or Android device, with editing software turning standard pictures into professional snaps.

This blog on photography for beginners will get you started. Once you get the basics down, you’ll be able to make memories to keep for life!

Health and fitness

1) The right diet for you…

Can make all the difference! Sure, you might want to look good and feel good too, but don’t go overboard on energy-draining foods or sugary treats (no matter how tempting they look!).

Knowing a little bit about how to get healthy will give you the confidence and motivation that’s needed to stick to a diet that suits your body. Check out these key tips for healthy eating.

2) Exercise the right way

There’s no “one size fits all” way to exercise – there are several different ways you can go about working out for maximum results.

Try attending a workout club at the gym or sports center, or joining a local running group in your area. A lot of people find exercise boring, so why not combine it with a fun hobby!

Never miss out on an opportunity to have fun while exercising – that can only benefit your body, mind, and soul.

You can also check out Mindvalley’s 10x Fitness course to get started.

3) Maintain a good posture

Many of us sit at a desk all day, slumped over our computer or laptop. This is the worst thing you can do for your body!

It’s been proven that sitting slumped over reduces blood flow to your brain, which can have an impact on memory and concentration. So what’s the solution?

A good posture!

Sit up straight (pay attention to your shoulders) and lean back slightly in your chair. This guide will show you exactly how to do it.

4) How to swim

Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do, it works nearly all the muscles in the body, and is a great way to mentally relax and work out stress and tension.

So, if you don’t know how to swim yet, head on down to your local swimming pool. People of all ages need swimming lessons, so don’t be put off by the groups of toddlers with armbands!

Not to mention – knowing how to swim is a life-saving skill. Even if you don’t live near the ocean, a seemingly casual dip in a pool while on holiday could turn life-threatening if you’re not well prepared!

5) Stretch, stretch, stretch it all out!

You might wonder why stretching is on the list of difficult things to learn that will benefit you forever, but the truth is…

There are right and wrong ways to stretch.

If you know the correct way, you’ll save your body years of pain, and stay flexible in the process.

A great way to get started is by checking out these yoga videos – they’re suitable for all levels and will get your body moving in a gentle, calm flow.

6) How to breathe correctly

Breathing is one of the most underrated acts. It’s essential to our well-being, but most of us don’t breathe deep enough.

If you haven’t already, check out James Nestor’s book on the new science of a lost art – Breath.

And while you’re at it, I’d also recommend this breathwork flow by the world-renowned shaman, Rudá Iandê. It’s invigorating, soothing, and incredibly powerful!

Emotional/mental skills

1) Patience

When you’re young, you’re in a rush to achieve everything you want in life. But an essential skill that you NEED to learn, is how to have patience.

You might have heard the expression, “All good things come to those who wait.”…

Being patient is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to get ahead in life. From being patient in your work, to being patient with others.

The problem is that the modern world moves at such a fast pace, and patience can be difficult to learn. To help with this, here are some tips on how to be patient.

2) How to manage your emotions

Our emotions can run wild, and even take control, if we don’t learn how to manage them. This can severely decrease the quality of your life, and even end relationships.

So how can you manage your emotions effectively?

Check out these easy tips to get started. And keep in mind, emotional intelligence is not easy to learn, but with practice, you’ll take back control over your feelings!

3) Take responsibility

As adults, it’s normal to make mistakes. But you have to be able to accept these mistakes, and then learn from them.

This is a skill that’ll make your life much easier in the long run. People who avoid taking responsibility for their actions are often seen as immature, selfish, and generally not pleasant to be around!

So, how can you learn to take responsibility?

Check out this article to start rethinking the way you live your life!

4) How to properly switch off

With stress, work and responsibilities, it can be difficult to switch off. But you need to learn how to do this!

By learning how to relax and switch off from the day-to-day grind, you can get ready for the next day with a clear head.

To do this:

Make sure you are having downtime every week (especially if you’re busy at work or have lots of responsibilities). This will save you from becoming burned out and risking your health (physically and mentally!).

5) Boundary setting

Some people find it difficult to set boundaries with others.

However, this is a necessary skill, especially when you are an adult. It’s important to be able to say no and set boundaries without being rude or hurtful.

Trust me, learning this skill will make your relationships much more manageable and easy to navigate!

Click here to read more about how to set boundaries and keep them.

6) How to be alone

We’ve spoken about working alone, but what about learning to live alone and depend on only yourself?

While having the company of others is extremely important, there are times in your life when you’ll find yourself with no one else around.

While it can be daunting at first, learning how to be at peace with your own company is an incredibly important skill to learn. This guide will teach you how to achieve it.

7) Develop confidence

Confidence is a very useful skill to have as an adult. This will help you to deal with the stresses of work and daily life better.

This is because having confidence in yourself means that you can make decisions without feeling nervous or unsure. You can then focus on the situation at hand and not get distracted or stressed by things around you.

How to develop confidence?

Very Well Mind has you covered with this excellent guide.

8) Practice being resilient

Being resilient is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to get ahead in their career (or life in general). Acknowledging that there will be days when your confidence or stress levels are out of whack can help you develop the resilience you need.

But it’s important to remember that being resilient is all about your mentality and how you deal with setbacks. Learn more about resiliency here.

9) The art of letting go

Some people find it very difficult to let go of their problems. This can lead to anxiety and increased stress levels.

However, there are ways you can learn to let go.

Try to accept your responsibilities and know what you can control and what you can’t control.

10) Self-care

With all the responsibilities of adulthood, we must learn to take care of ourselves.

It’s not just about taking time out for yourself (although this is a good start!), but also about finding ways to improve your mental and physical health.

To do this, it’s a good idea to try and find healthy ways to manage your stress and anxiety levels.

For example:

Try meditation, yoga, or exercise! These are great ways to improve your mental state and de-stress after work.

Finances and career

1) How to write a resume/cover letter

Whether you’re applying to university or you want to change your job, knowing how to write a convincing resume and cover letter will increase your chances of landing an interview.

But how can you get good at writing about yourself? Most of us struggle with this.

Luckily, Harvard Extension School has created an all-encompassing guide to help you get going!

2) How to conduct yourself in an interview

Interview etiquette is very important! It’s not just about looking good, but it’s a chance for employers to get to know your personality and personality quirks.

So always dress appropriately or better than you normally would, and talk in a way that shows you’re interested in the job.

Always be on time for an interview. If you miss your appointment, it’ll be difficult to reschedule, which won’t help you get the position. Here are a few more essential tips to know about interviews.

3) IT skills

It’s time to be honest with yourself – we’re in the digital age and most people use online tools for:

  • Banking
  • Shopping
  • Working
  • Investing
  • Paying bills and taxes

Basically, everything! Computer skills are very important in today’s world and will benefit you for life.

You don’t need to be a computer whizz, but it’s always a good idea to know how to use at least one program properly. Not only can it be fun, but IT skills can also help your career in the long run too.

Take a look at this guide on how to teach yourself computer skills.

4) Negotiation skills

If you’re looking for a new job, then it’s important to know how to negotiate. This can be done through negotiating your pay, perks, and benefits.

With that being said, it takes practice to become great at negotiating. Most people find it nerve-wracking the first time, but when they succeed, the feeling of negotiating a better deal becomes addictive!

To find out how to negotiate like an adult, read this guide to negotiations!

You can also check out this Masterclass by Chris Voss on The Art of Negotiation.

5) How to work in a team

Working in a team, whether it be at school, the office, or a sports club, is one of the best ways to get ahead in life.

This is because you’ll be working alongside other people who have strengths and weaknesses that you can help out with. And vice versa – others can also help you out too!

But the key to working well in a team is knowing how to communicate effectively and foster good relations with your teammates.

Check out this guide on teamwork for beginners.

6) How to work alone

Following on from the previous point, you may find yourself working from home and missing out on having a team around you for support.

This might make it harder to stay motivated and focused on your work.

But learning how to regulate yourself will make your job much easier and you may even become more productive than when working as part of a team!

This guide will give you some handy tips on working alone.

7) Handle conflict/confrontation

Conflict and confrontation can be difficult things to handle in the workplace, but it’s a useful skill if you want to get ahead.

To make sure you approach the issue of conflict at work with the right attitude, here are some useful tips.

And remember – don’t take things personally! Every workplace is different and everyone has different personalities.

8) How to save money

It’s a good idea to learn how to save money in case of an emergency. By saving some of your income each month, you can keep cash aside for any emergencies.

Here are some simple tips on how to save money:

  • Always turn off lights and appliances that you aren’t using!
  • Get yourself a savings account and allocate yourself a small amount of money every month for savings (or try automating it).
  • Switch to cooking at home rather than eating out
  • Shop around for cheaper deals on your mobile phone, internet provider, and other services you pay for

Learning how to save money isn’t always easy, but it’ll certainly be worth it in the end when your bank account looks healthy!

9) How to budget effectively

There are so many different ways of budgeting your money, and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But don’t worry – you’ll get the hang of it! Here are some tips to start budgeting:

  • Make a list of all your debts and expenses, then assign a monthly amount to each.
  • Use an app that helps you work out your budget
  • At the end of each month, check on how your budgeting is going and make changes where necessary – your budget should move flexibly according to your lifestyle changes.

You may also find this guide useful on budgeting for beginners.

10) How to avoid getting into debt

Many of us spend money we don’t have or overspend regularly because we aren’t good at budgeting.

It’s important to learn how to avoid getting into debt while you are still young, otherwise, you could be paying off loans well into old age.

To do this, it’s a good idea to try and use cash as much as possible, and not rely too much on credit cards and loans.

Essentially, don’t spend money you don’t have! This guide will explain further how to avoid getting into debt.

11) Understand how tax works

It’s a good idea to understand how your income and expenses are taxed – a lot of your money will go here so don’t put your head in the sand when it comes to taxes.

However, taxes aren’t simple and they are subject to each country’s individual laws.

Google the tax laws in your country, and spend an afternoon getting your head around how you’re being taxed and why!

So there we have it – 50 skills that’ll benefit you forever. Which one are you going to get started with today?

Written by Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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