10 Essential Life Skills You Might Not Learn At School

By Christian Gallen

July 10 2018

Sure NCEA Level 3 Geography will set you up well in life for naming capital cities but here are my top 10 life skills that you don’t always learn in a classroom

1) Reading. Actually, let’s hope they taught you this in a class room. Reading makes you smarter. I’m not sure if that’s true but if you are reading this then I’m saying you are smart. So take the compliment. Read more. That way you can be legitimately pretentious when you claim that the book was better than the movie.

2) Handling rejection. A taste of rejection is great for your character. It’s not always easy being rejected after sending someone multiple friend requests with no reply. It’s always worth putting yourself out there and getting shot down to understand that rejection is just part of life. When you get rejected what do you do? Some people give up and some persevere. Three publishers told JK Rowling that they wouldn’t print Harry Potter because no one would read it. But she didn’t give up. She wasn’t afraid to put herself out there because she understood something that we all need to learn; it’s better to try and be rejected than spending your life wondering “what if…?”

3) Have a signature dish. If you can cook up a mean roast chicken you will be welcomed everywhere. It doesn’t have to be too fancy but if you have a reputation for being good in the kitchen you will go far my friend.

4) Play a song on any instrument. Except the recorder. Nothing sounds cool on the recorder… Not everyone is as talented as Ed Sheeran but you don’t need to be the best to have fun. Learn how to play a sing-a-long song on the guitar. You can learn on the piano but not many people have them lying around the campfire. Music unites people. Join the conversation.

5) Negotiation. Don’t get ripped off. Don’t rip people off. Negotiate well and be content with your life. You can negotiate with your parents, teachers and friends for absolutely anything because you never know unless you ask. However, if you always get what you want or never get what you want then you need to get better at negotiating.

6) Apologize. Humble yourself and say sorry to those that matter to you. But especially get good at apologizing to yourself. Next time you wake up with regrets because of what you may have said or done. Say “Sorry me, that was a bad move. Let’s not do that again.” And then forgive yourself and give yourself a high-five. This Chinese proverb says it better than I can; Holding onto unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.

7) Dance. Can you dance? I’m not talking about being good enough to be in a crew called ‘Levitate’ or ‘Gravitate’ or ‘Contaminate’ or whatever. I mean can you dance with enough confidence to enjoy yourself when the beat drops.  You wonder why your parents are such embarrassing dancers now? Because they were too scared to learn when they were your age. You don’t have to be the best, but when your friend pushes you into the dance circle have a go-to-move you can bank on.

8) Asking good questions. If you want to have a great conversation the key is actually asking good questions. The difference between “How has your day been?” and “What would you do if you won Lotto?” is a conversation. Learning how to ask good questions is one of the most practical skills you can learn. Here are my favourites: What is your best injury story? What’s your most embarrassing moment? Would you rather have fingers as long as your legs or legs as long as your fingers?

9) Swim. You know in case of a Zombie Apocalypse where you find yourself in a situation where your only hope of refuge is that island in the middle of a lake. Also it’s good exercise and is proven to be one the best preventative strategies to drowning. So swim my reading intellectuals. Swim.

10) Asking for help. Only the weak think that they are strong enough to win a losing battle alone. Having someone you trust to chat to about life can really offer some perspective. I hope you have people in your life that you can ask for help. If you don’t know who else to talk to then definitely get in touch with Youthline 0800 376 633

If you master these skills you will become more awesome. The more skills you master the more “more awesome” you will be. So get to it my skillful friends!


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Christian Gallen

Christian Gallen joined the Attitude team in July 2009 after completing a BA in Te Reo Maori. Christian’s performance and speaking ability has been honed through his involvement in various bands and speaking engagements.


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