We go to school to learn hands-on skills that will enable us to be better at earning a living.
But many of the skills that will make you a success in life have little or nothing to do with earning a living.
They’re mostly about living your life, interacting with other people, and improving yourself.
And sometimes they even help you earn a living.
Here are several things you can learn how to do today that will make you better at the game of life.
1Learn How to Learn
You can learn almost anything you need with a simple Google search. My son and I figured out how to change the ignition coils in my car just from watching a YouTube video. You can do the same with virtually anything else you want to learn.
Just Google “how to [fill in the blank]?” You’ll be surprised to find out that many things are much simpler than you ever imagined.
This is not only a great way to get the information you need, but it’s also an excellent way to shop more intelligently, and to learn new skills.
2Cook Your Own Meals
Since World War II, the percentage of food that’s prepared inside the home has been declining steadily in favor of restaurant meals and prepared meals from grocery stores. While that may be incredibly convenient, it’s a very expensive way to live.
Cooking is a very under-appreciated skill. Not only will mastering it help you to save money on food, but cooking is also a form of personal expression. It’s a way of adding your personality to a meal, and even to create entirely new concoctions. We all need creative outlets, and cooking is a chance to do it without leaving home.
BONUS: check out Cooked on Netflix for a little inspiration.
3Handle a Job Interview or Make a Sales Pitch
I’ve lumped these two together, because they really are the same thing. Or more particularly, handling a job interview is a form of making a sales pitch where the product is you.
At some time or other in your life you will need to be a salesperson. Handling a job interview is one common example. You can’t hide behind the I’m not a salesperson argument every time. Learning how to pitch yourself or some other product, service, or idea will open your horizons. Failing to embrace your inner sales persona can only hold you back. And it’s mostly a matter of believing in yourself and what it is you’re pitching.
4Manage Your Time Efficiently
We each only have a limited amount of time each day, and how we use that time is one of the biggest determining factors in whether or not we succeed in what it is that we are doing. Successful people tend to master time control. Less successful people often openly struggle with this.
Work on concentrating the most productive time of your day on doing the activities that will be most beneficial to you and to your family, church or organization. This means avoiding the human tendency toward creative avoidance. If you are in sales for example, the first, best part of your day should be spent making sales calls. Leave less critical tasks to be handled later in the day when your energy level is lower.
And see if your production doesn’t increase.
Highly Recommended book: Getting Things Done by David Allen
5Travel Light In Life
Whoever has the most toys wins! That saying sounds emotionally satisfying in a world driven by consumerism. But it’s not a particularly efficient way to live.
Accumulating stuff has a way of weighing down our lives, in much the same way as being overweight weighs down our bodies. You simply don’t have complete freedom of action when you have a pile of stuff that needs to be stored, maintained, protected, and paid for.
Keep your possessions down to a well-controlled level. That will also help you to reduce the clutter in your life that can also impair free-thinking.
For more check out this Podcast interview Bob did with Joshua Becker:
6Control Your Excesses
There are a lot of very talented people who self-destruct because they can’t control their excesses. We can easily see this with people who are addicted to alcohol and narcotics. But less obvious is people who are addicted to food, social validation, being part of the crowd, or being on the social cutting edge.
It’s not always enough to be good at what you do – you also have to be good at avoiding behaviors and activities that will slow you down.
Avoiding debt applies to both traveling light in life and controlling your excesses. This is because it can weigh you down, and reach an excess level that destroys you financially. For these reasons, avoiding debt may be appropriately termed a life survival skill.
As a rule, the less debt you have, the better your life will be. Less debt means more options, and more mental clarity.
Avoiding it is a skill as much as anything else.
8Live Beneath Your Means
You can avoid most financial problems in life just by learning to live beneath your means. If you can, you’ll always have extra money available. That will not only help you to accumulate savings – that can act as a cushion against the uncertainties of life – but it also helps to keep you out of debt. After all, if you’re living within your means there’s no need to borrow. And if you have savings, you’ll always have a source of money to go to without having to go into debt.
Living beneath your means also gives you the flexibility that you need to make major changes in life. For example, it frees you up to take a lower paying job or to start a business if that’s what you choose to do. If you are living at or above your current income level, taking a lower paying position may be impossible.
Living beneath your means also provides you with the ability to become a long-term saver. That means that you will have money available to invest for a more prosperous future.
There’ll always be a need for effective negotiating. Many people find negotiating distasteful or even intimidating, and for that reason they often concede victory to the other party without a fight. But negotiating is more a matter of protecting your interests than some sort of hard knocks skill.
Whether you are involved in getting a new job, buying a car, buying a home, or settling a dispute with another person, you’ll need to have some level of negotiating skills. The better that you are at it, the better your life will be.
10Speak Less, Listen More
This is a real talent that not many people have. When you listen, you learn. And one of the things you learn is what other people are thinking, and that can make dealing with them much easier.
But the key to listening more is learning to speak less. It’s simply not possible to listen when you’re the one doing the talking. Listening makes you more empathetic, and tends to disarm other people. When you show that you are prepared to listen to another person’s position, the defenses go down and you have an easier time making your point.
That can lead to better relationships with other people, as well as more favorable business transactions. It’s a skill well worth mastering.
11Express Yourself With Confidence
Have you ever noticed how some people command respect when they speak? Part of this is the mechanics of your speech – they just seem to have superior verbal skills. But it’s probably true that more of it comes from emotional factors, like the confidence they project when they speak.
None of us are knowledgeable in all areas, so it’s perfectly okay to let others know that you aren’t an expert. But when you are knowledgeable, it’s important that you express your positions with confidence. That confidence is the attention getter, and the primary reason why people respect your opinion, even if they don’t agree with you. Knowledge is everywhere (and easily obtained on the Internet), but it’s the ability to project that knowledge that wins people over.
If you’ve never had much confidence when it comes to expressing yourself, take small steps. Try being more confident where you are most knowledgeable. Over time, as you increase your knowledge base, you may find yourself becoming more confident overall.
12Believe in Yourself
Nearly every other skill or practice on this list is more doable when you believe in yourself. This isn’t about being arrogant, but rather having a quiet confidence in who you are and what you’re doing.
Other people can usually sense whether or not you believe in yourself. If they sense that you do, you’ll earn their respect and often their help and support. But if it’s apparent that you don’t believe in yourself, you can easily end up being ignored or even becoming a victim.
This isn’t a plan to become the leader of the pack in all that you do, but rather to approach everything in your life with the quiet confidence that you can handle what it is you’re trying to do.
Master some of these skills and behaviors, and you’ll likely find that you’ll become better in all areas of the game of life.
What are some things you’ve learned in life that made you a better person? Leave a comment!