Want to start your self-improvement journey? Here’s your starting point.
On TikTok, there’s the “that girl” trend. A girl who has everything sorted; has all the socially desirable habits and traits. That girl’s persona is mostly about succeeding at self-improvement and becoming a better version of yourself. Over-the-top trends aside, the basic theme is that people need self-development skills and habits to become strong, independent (yet connected), successful, happy, and desirable. Why those adjectives?
Because those adjectives come from satisfying psychological and physical needs that most people have. They are – a need for growth, a need for achievement, a need for control and safety, a need for independence & autonomy, a need to progress and get more out of life, a need to feel wanted, a need for respect, etc.
In this listicle, we’ll look at 100+ life skills covering self-improvement, self-management, self-help, self-development, and self-growth skills that are particularly important in a post-pandemic, hyper-connected, hybrid-digital world. These will help you with success in most domains of life and lead to a more productive life than that trendy girl’s. Most of these skills are ideally most useful young adults and old adults. Some of them can be learned during school and even at the age of 90 years.
- Self-care & Health Skills for self-management
- Productivity Skills to stay on top of things
- Financial Skills for managing life
- Interpersonal & Social Skills for better teamwork and relationships
- Functional & Vocational Skills for self-management and efficiency
- Thinking Skills for self-management and a sharper mind
- Communication Skills for personal development and social growth
- Mental health Skills for self-development and self-growth
- Misc. Life Skills for everything else that can be important
Self-care & Health Skills for self-management
Self-care and health-related skills involve everything from hygiene to knowing how to take care of a wound at home. These are basic medical and health skills that prevent complications and help you begin a fitness journey.
- First-aid for basic wounds and injuries
- Self-care, grooming, and hygiene
- Keeping track of medications, supplements, and medical issues
- Making healthy food choices without losing the fun
- Keeping a discipline over your indulgences like Netflix, alcohol, eating, and phone use
Productivity Skills to stay on top of things
These productivity skills cover very specific 202X problems. Some are general productivity “systems” and habits while the others are more about handling a complex lifestyle. Mastering even a few should help you improve productivity. If you really want to dive into the science of productivity, you can check this out. Work-from-home productivity is particularly tricky (which I have described in depth here) and these skills should help you become more co-operative, self-reliant, and efficient.
- Keeping digital backups (online & offline) along with digital copies of all important documents
- Customizing your room, apps, phone to make life easier/interesting
- Knowing what to ignore in your work and what to prioritize
- Doing something a little every day (not every week), very consistently, to reach an important goal
- Making quality use of bonus time/money and minimizing wastage with borrowed time/money
- Building something from scratch – the first 10% and pre-work preparation
- Polishing something into the final thing – the last 10% (most people can do the middle work of improving and almost-finishing. Very few can claim I’ve kick-started something or finished it. )
- Building routines, schedules, and allocating time for yourself and others
- Not procrastinating on administrative tasks
- Doing a document outline on at least 2 word processors like google docs and Microsoft word
- Making attractive presentations
- Remembering, resetting, and monitoring your logins and passwords
- Using Google to find answers and not just read the rich snippets
- Allotting appropriate time frames to tasks and sticking to them with enough room for unanticipated events.
- Updating yourself with new developments in science, tech, and society
Financial Skills for managing life
The post-pandemic world is financially unique where people are getting creative to earn money while others who did okay before can’t make ends meet. From a work-from-home and job insecurity point of view, these skills will help you gain some financial security.
- Keeping track of your money
- Budgeting for needs, wants, savings
- Creating multiple income streams
- Letting money work for you while you sleep through investments and passive income
- Deciding when to invest in long-term purchases or get instant gratification or quick fixes (excellent shoes vs. those that tear in 6 months)
- Allocating a budget for backup electronics and emergency purchases
Interpersonal & Social Skills for better teamwork and relationships
When it comes to personal and social matters, certain skills can make relationships and professional interactions a lot easier. These skills are about working better as a team and building all sorts of relationships through effective behaviors, approaches, and attitudes.
- Knowing where to find answers and whom to ask for advice
- Articulating your dissatisfaction or unmet needs as problems so you can take action instead of reacting in damaging ways
- Proactive communication and catching-up with people you’ve known/met to maintain relationships
- Presenting yourself to others properly, not too modestly not too pompously
- Focusing on actions and behaviors and not just thoughts and intentions to get work done and mend relationships
- Not showing excessive commitment to your point of view (you can be just as wrong as others)
- Giving an orgasm
- Working as a team and collaborating instead of competing within yourselves
- Leading a team
- Following better-informed members of your team
- Owning up to a communication mistake even when it seems understandable
- Letting others speak even when you are the “speaker”
- Patiently talking when communication gets hard
Functional & Vocational Skills for self-management and efficiency
Functional and vocational skills have a lot to do with practice and experience. Some of them rely on habits while others need you to go out of your way to put in some effort. In an ideal world, these skills will help you lead a more streamlined life with lesser time-wasting, more variety to counter boredom, and more independence. Some of these skills will help you build self-esteem (how you feel about yourself) and self-efficacy (confidence in your abilities) by tapping into your sense of achievement.
- Making a good impression on video
- Troubleshooting and starting alternative modes of communication when chat/call/VC fails
- Ironing clothes
- Operating all household electronics
- Managing keys
- Managing paperwork
- Doing quick basic calculations like percentages, proportions, tips, number of days/hours, etc.
- Using a toolkit for simple repairs
- Touch typing
- Tying secure knots
- Body stretching
- Household repairs
- Changing tires
- Looking at a map and keeping direction
Thinking Skills for self-management and a sharper mind
Memory and thinking skills like remembering social information and framing a situation in a problem-solution framework can make you more resourceful. Some skills will help you build social capital (the strength of your social connectivity) and others will help you think with more clarity, particularly in ambiguous/uncertain situations.
- Remembering your most important phone numbers
- Remembering birthdays
- Remembering names and occupations
- Knowing your exact strengths and weaknesses, well enough to leverage them in a crisis, pitch them for money, or avoid risks
- Coming up with many answers, solutions, ideas, hypotheses, and explanations to build a holistic understanding
- Choosing a problem-solution mindset when needed
- Mentally accounting for what things you have at home, in your bag, and in pockets
- Using what’s around you to get the job done
- Overcoming biases by learning to focus on many different perspectives
- Overcoming biases by seeking information that contradicts you if you always feel you are right
Communication skills are one of the strongest differentiating aspects between a good relationship and a bad relationship. Poor communication skills can also create a disadvantage in the professional sphere, especially when communication is mostly digital and people are overwhelmed with calls and emails. These skills are more about your choice of words and paying attention than the decision-making, attitude, and behavior skills in the “interpersonal & social” section of this article.
- Developing a personal identity and a memorable brand of who you are and what you represent
- Proactively calling someone to ask for what you need
- Faking confidence without lying about expertise
- Choosing a listen-reflect mindset when needed
- Using the fewest words to keep things fun and interesting in conversation
- Explicitly wording what you understand to show others what you’ve understood
- Grabbing others attention by saying or showing something catchy and sticky
- Explaining what you know in simple words
- Explaining what you know in technical terms
- Persuading someone to hear you out
- Patience and flexibility to hear someone out
- Conversational and writing proficiency in your local language
- Conversational and writing proficiency in English
- Repeating what you couldn’t clearly say in different words to help others understand.
- Presence of mind and reading the room
- When to compliment and not sound like you are flattering
- How to ask for sex and say no to sex
- How to ask for help and say no to help
- Saying a genuine sorry and thank you
- Writing respectful emails even when things aren’t going your way
- Being on top of follow-ups
Mental health Skills for self-development and self-growth
- Talking to get out of tricky situations
- Standing up when you need to
- Picking and choosing the battles you want to fight and ignoring the rest
- Recognizing emotions within you
- Recognizing emotions around you
- Assessing risk well enough to not lock yourself up for an illusion of safety and still manage risk to make life worth living. I.e., Assessing if it is ok to go out in public for fresh air or avoid 100% human contact even if it takes a mental health toll.
- Personal anger management during an argument
- Diffusing an argument in front of you
- Recognizing why others’ really get angry and addressing those instead of fighting them out
- Showing kindness when it seems difficult (this will go a long, long way)
- Taking personal breaks and spending time on an enjoyable activity
- How to ask for advice and picking the right advice and still take responsibility for consequences
- Keeping track of your progress
Misc. Life Skills for everything else that can be important
These are a mixed set of skills that can give you an advantage over others in some sense.
- Traveling light and packing efficiently
- Showing a pleasant face, attitude, and demeanor when you need to by being resilient
- Reducing carbon footprint and environmental wastage
- Musical hobbies for personal engagement and entertainment
- Design skills to “package” whatever you wish to say or tell
- Making lists (I’m working on this)
- Summarizing the key points of a problem, experience, or agenda to keep the “big picture” in your mind
Have I missed any life skill you feel is important for personal development? Do comment below!
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Hey! Thank you for reading; hope you enjoyed the article. I run Cognition Today to paint a holistic picture of psychology. My content here is referenced in Forbes, CNET, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, a few books, academic courses, and research papers.
I’m an applied psychologist from Bangalore, India. Love sci-fi, horror media; Love rock, metal, synthwave, and pop music; can’t whistle; can play the guitar.