In life, learning never stops. Even when you leave full-time education and become a fully-fledged adult, there is still a wealth of knowledge out there for you to benefit from. Many of the things you learn in school are useful in your day-to-day life, such as grammar, sports, and numeracy, but a lot of the academic curriculum has little practical application. How many times in your life have you needed to know how many wives Henry VIII had, or how to conjugate French verbs?
The truly useful knowledge is that which you can use in everyday circumstances. Practical skills that make your life considerably easier, yet never show up in test papers and lesson plans. These abilities will make you a more well-rounded individual, better equipped to take charge of your life and follow your own path. Knowing these eight life skills will help you become more confident and capable in all aspects of your life.
Every single person on the planet needs food to survive. In prehistoric times, early humans would hunt or forage for food and prepare it themselves over a fire before eating. But in the modern age, it is easy to go online and order a takeaway to your front door, or heat a microwave meal in a few seconds. All this convenience has made us lazier than ever in the kitchen, and as a result, there are countless people with no cooking ability whatsoever. But knowing your way around a kitchen is an incredibly useful life skill. It gives you complete control over the food you put into your body and thereby allows you to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet free of additives and chemicals. Furthermore, buying fresh ingredients and combining them to make a delicious meal is considerably cheaper than eating out or buying ready-made dinners. Both your body and your wallet will thank you.
If the prospect of learning how to cook fills you with dread, there is no need to panic. You don’t have to become a Michelin-starred chef overnight. It is easy enough to get started with a few simple recipes to learn the fundamentals of cookery. Keep practicing and learn from your mistakes. Over time you will get more confident in your abilities and can experiment with more complicated dishes. You’ll be throwing dinner parties and impressing your guests in no time at all.
If you’ve never sat behind the wheel of a car, it’s never too late to learn. Even if you live in a big city and can rely on public transport, you never know when you might need to drive a car in life. Perhaps you will interview for a job position that requires you to travel across the country for meetings, or maybe you will travel to a remote holiday destination where the only way of getting around is to hire a car. Learning to drive can be tricky at first, but when you finally pass your test it will be a source of immense pride and satisfaction. The skills you learn from your instructor will also help to increase your reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and powers of observation.
If you do drive your own car, what do you do when it has a problem? Do you fix it yourself, or do you take it to a mechanic and pay a large sum of money for them to sort it out? Although replacing fan belts and coilover springs might be beyond your abilities, a lot of car maintenance and repair is quite simple. Next time something goes wrong with your car, don’t instantly get on the phone to your local garage. Open up YouTube and find a video from a reputable source to walk you through fixing the problem. You might find that you can easily resolve it. There are even courses you can take to help you become an expert in car maintenance. After a while, you will be conducting your own services and replacing brake fluid without a second thought.
Everyone has things in their home that need fixing or upgrading. Whether it’s your leaky taps, wonky doors, or chipped paintwork, these issues can weigh on your mind and make you feel dissatisfied with your living environment. And spending money on a tradesperson to resolve your problems isn’t always the most appealing prospect. If this sounds familiar, then what is stopping you from learning to do your own home maintenance? If you don’t know a spanner from a screwdriver, there are many ways to get more comfortable with DIY. Find Youtube channels with maintenance tutorials, or ask a handy friend to coach you through a few simple errands.
Does the prospect of filling your tax return send you into a cold sweat? Most people hate having to manage their finances, but it is one of the most important skills every adult should have. Knowing how to manage your money, keep track of your cash flow, and budget successfully, is crucial to ensure the financial stability of you and your family. The best way to become more confident in this area is to talk to a reputable accountant. They will be able to talk you through some money management techniques and give you some tips for where to invest your savings.
Suppose you are walking down the street and you see someone collapse onto the sidewalk in front of you. Would you know what to do? Of course, you would call the emergency services, but would you feel confident keeping them safe and preventing their condition from worsening until the ambulance arrives? First aid is one of the most valuable skill sets anyone can have, yet it’s one that no one ever wants to use. Taking a short course will equip you with the basic necessities to be a first responder in the event of a medical emergency. If you witness choking, a broken leg, or even a heart attack, you will be able to jump in and help, and maybe even save someone’s life.
When was the last time you used a paper map to find your way? If you are under 30 years old then you may have never even held a map in your life. Our smartphones and constant internet connectivity mean that you can open Google Maps at any time and navigate to where you need to be, without thinking about the direction or distance you are traveling. But what do you do when your phone runs out of battery, or you can’t get a GPS signal? If this happens in the city, it can be frustrating and inconvenient, but what if you’re out for a hike in the mountains? In this case, it could be life-threatening. Having a paper map and compass in your pocket and knowing how to use it could prevent you from being lost in the wilderness.
Our over-reliance on digital navigation has taken away crucial cognitive skills we once used all the time. As a result, young people are gradually losing their spatial awareness and sense of direction. Learning to navigate without the use of a smart device will help you stay in touch with the physical world and never get lost again.
Whatever your line of work, there will be times in your life when you have to speak to a large group of people. Perhaps you are called upon to do a presentation at work, or you have to give a speech to a room full of friends and family on your wedding day. Public speaking is one of the most common sources of fear and anxiety, so it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for just such an eventuality. The last thing you want is to start sweating and freeze up like a deer caught in the headlights. Organizations like Toastmasters are a great way to hone your communication skills and get comfortable talking to crowds in a judgment-free space.