The 10 Skills You Must Learn Before You Die
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius
Most people never recognize their own mortality until it’s too late.
They don’t realize that their time on earth is limited until they’re forced to face that fact head-on. People say they understand that they won’t live forever (usually as an excuse to justify another cocktail or cookie), but most of us still live like we’re coming back for a second chance.
But as far as we know, there are no second chances. You have one shot to get this “life” thing right.
That said, here are ten of what I think are the important skills required to master to live a fulfilling life.
- Expressing your emotions.
I used to hide all of my emotions from everyone.
Until I was about 22, I had the emotional intelligence of a potato chip.
Eventually, however, through therapy, meditation, journaling, and a bunch of other self-examining habits, I learned to “let go” of my perceptions of external judgments and to allow myself not only to feel things but to show my feelings. As a guy who competes at a high level in a sport that prides itself on toughness and statue-like stoicism, this was a very tough (but very worthwhile) thing to learn.
I’m not saying you should just walk around and cry in front of random people on the street, but I am saying that you should learn how to show your emotions to the people in your life.
Emotional growth is the most ignored part of personal development in American culture. Don’t be like most people.
Let yourself feel.
- Navigating difficult conversations.
What kills interpersonal relationships isn’t usually arguments, it’s resentment.
Resentment is a lot like Rome — it can’t be built in a day.
By avoiding difficult conversations and difficult choices, you’re going to build a habit out of having crappy relationships. If you have problems in your life, you have to face them — head-on. Avoiding confrontation is a sign of weakness.
Yeah, I said it.
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
- Saying no.
For my entire life, I prided myself on being a “yes man”.
My middle name was “more”.
You could argue that it’s because I’m a man. I’ve always taken pride in my ability to provide for others, but the root cause of this issue is not super important. I’ve always taken on more work, more responsibility, and more stress without thinking about how that added stress would affect me.
Doing this constantly will shorten the duration and quality of your life.
Learning to say no is the strongest act of self-love there is.
This year, I wrote a whole free ebook on how to learn martial arts faster.
This was in part a marketing effort to help me build my email list, but really, it was a way for me to help understand how I learn. Ultimately, I wrote this ebook so that I could learn about how to learn.
Doing so helped me become a better teacher, but it also helped me become a better learner.
If you can teach yourself how you learn best, you can learn almost anything. The ability to learn efficiently will change your life.
- How to coexist with other people.
A lot of people (young people especially) are divas.
I know because I’m still one sometimes.
I’m a competitive athlete in an individual sport, which means that when my competitions roll around, I’m very self-centered. I have to be in order to have a chance at achieving my goals.
The irony is that by dropping this idea of “me first”, I’ve been able to connect more with others and improve my skills faster. Even if you’re “focusing on yourself”, never forget how much you can learn if you work with other people.
- Thinking for yourself.
One book that changed everything that I know about life was Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
The subtitle of the book is “a book for all and none”, and really, that explains it all. Anyone can learn to think for themselves, but not most don’t have the mental fortitude, discipline, and courage to begin a path toward self-mastery.
For me, learning to “think for myself” has been the key to living a happier and more meaningful life. It’s also given me a lot of interesting ideas to think and write about, too.
- Standing up for what you believe in.
Bullies are everywhere, and honestly, I still shut down sometimes when I’m confronted with bullies in my life. “Trauma response” might not be the right word, but it’s the only word I can think of to describe the dissociation I face when people try to bully me.
I’m working on it.
But that’s why I know that the skill of standing up to bullies and standing up for what you believe in is one of the most important skills in life. Everyone is admirable when life is easy.
Adversity exposes who you really are. Strength is built through the ability to withstand the discomfort of adversity.
- Ethical wealth creation.
I used to think that the only way to make money was by exploiting other people.
I didn’t understand how value could exist in the world without scarcity.
But when I read Naval Ravikant’s Twitter thread on wealth, I had to completely change the way that I looked at the acquisition of wealth. This quote has stuck with me in particular:
“Understand that ethical wealth creation is possible. If you secretly despise wealth, it will elude you.” — Naval Ravikant
Money might not make you happy, but it sure does help you solve problems. Good people with resources are the ones who have the power to change the world.
- How to work hard and work smart.
I learned how to work hard from wrestling, but there are other ways to learn grit, discipline, and time management.
Notice that I don’t say “hustle” anymore. In 2022, I’m hopeful that finally hustling is going to die out. Covid is killing hustle culture for many people.
“Hustle” is for children who have dreams, time, and don’t care about efficiency. Hustle is for amateurs. Professionals put in the work every day and then go home and rest because they know rest is important.
Hustlers burnout. Professionals show up every day.
Don’t become a hustler, become a professional.
- How to accept rejection.
I spent the first 6 months of 2021 in love with this girl, and then we had a mutual breakup. The relationship wasn’t working.
Then, I spent the next 6 months trying to get her back. I didn’t want to break up. Life forced us to.
This is a long story for another day.
But long story short, my efforts to win her back didn’t work, and it was probably for the best. She was done with me. Worse though, the mindset and self-perception that I developed while “chasing her around” was one of scarcity and desperation. It made me miserable.
One day a few months ago, I finally decided that it was over. I accepted rejection.
Every time I’ve accepted rejection in my life, I’ve been happier in the long run.
Growing up is accepting short-term discomfort for long-term happiness.
All of the skills I listed above are just that — skills.
That means that you might have a natural aptitude for some, but others might be ridiculously challenging for you. For me, emotional skills have been really hard to learn, but learning to work hard and learn has been easier.
I’m naturally pretty good at fighting but I sucked at talking my feelings for years. That’s just how skills work. Some are easy, some are hard.
The best part of these 10 interpersonal skills above is that with disciplined effort sustained over long periods of time, you can improve your proficiency in all of these things. That’s the beauty of skills.
People with more skills lead to people with more knowledge, and people with more knowledge make the world a better place. You can make the world a better place.
CONTRIBUTED BY Chris Wojcik
Read More: 7 Habits That Build Your Life.
Read More: The 4 Soft Skills That Will 10x Your Career