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These Essential Life Skills Aren’t Taught In K–12 School. Are You Using Them?

We must use our influence to spotlight some vital, yet under-utilized, essential life skills that truly make a difference in our quality of life. You are you, in part, because of what you were taught. While genetics play a huge role, our growth environment cannot be discounted. We learned basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills in K-12 school. Beyond learning essential life skills, such as hygiene and lawfulness, we were educated by how people (family, friends, authority figures, local community, and even the ruling government)  treated us — their words, actions, and attitudes created our map of the world and taught us how to be. 

If the sources for our education are sound, we flourish, even under adversity. However, if we’re not exposed to the following essential life skills, we’ll be overly anxious and won’t cope well. However, let’s acknowledge this…

People can only teach others what they themselves learn. Our past teachers no doubt did the best they could with the resources they had. We, today, have the opportunity as coaches and community leaders to use our influence to spotlight under-utilized essential life skills. Even if you don’t feel you have influence, by practicing and modeling these life skills every day, you make a difference. They are that powerful.

Why are the following essential life skills so necessary?

We live in a changing world and we’re confronted with situations we’ve not been prepared to face. Added to that, our past education has created conflict within us. Part of us wants X, while another part of us wants Z… for example, we want to be healthy, but we want to indulge in rich food and spend hours in front of the screen. Your health suffers as a consequence. Or we want to start our own business, but our negative self-talk tells us we’re not good enough.

We constantly want to change things about ourselves, and yet we can’t seem to make those changes stick. We try countless goals, strategies, or resolutions and then we’re frustrated when nothing seems to work long-term. 

This is NOT due to a lack of willpower!  What is needed is more Skill Power! In just a moment, let’s explore seven essential life skills that will keep you motivated, on track, and inspired to achieve the life of your dreams.

It’s important to note a basic reason why lasting change is not achieved:

We tend to treat life in a segmented manner ( If I change one aspect, I’ll succeed, therefore I need to eat better to lose weight); a more effective way of achieving the results you desire is becoming aware of how the whole body/mind/spirit connection is out of balance (e.g., besides diet, I need to exercise, develop a positive self-image, and more, otherwise I’ll sabotage myself). 

When you develop essential life skills that bring all back into harmony, then you can achieve your goal lastingly and with greater ease. This applies to both ourselves and those we wish to assist.

What are the seven areas of life that require these unfamiliar essential life skills?

There are seven areas of life listed below that are key and I’ve also linked each one with an essential life skill that will help you achieve complete balance.

1. Balanced self-care. In order to function at peak performance, you naturally need to follow a self-care program that attends to diet, exercise, sleep, social contact, stress management, and avoidance of harmful activities. What’s the essential life skill you need to address all of these? 

Listen to your body! What your body needs and the habits to support those needs will be individual to you. Become skilled at hearing what your body is asking for and give it that nourishing care.

2. Self-understanding and mindfulness. Humans are complex organisms and, from a scientific perspective, we’re still learning the basics of brain function. What’s the essential life skill for this? 

Observe without judgment. Slow down and explore the present experience mindfully to see what you can learn from it.

3. Peace with your past. We have all learned from our experiences what to expect from ourselves, others, and life. Some of what you have learned continues to be helpful, while some of it is an ongoing source of pain. The life skill…?

Parts integration. When a Part of you is wanting to move forward, yet a part of you wants to hold back, my Tea Time Exercise will help you resolve this internal conflict. Then you’ll be able to choose what part of your past to retain and what to thank and let go of. 

4. Self-empathy. Most people have never learned to treat themselves with the kindness and patience they have learned to bring to others. This undermines motivation and overall well-being. 

Love yourself. Accepting that you deserve as much love and affection as anyone else on earth is vital. 

5. Nurturing relationships. There are essential life skills for creating more nourishing relationships, including being able to explore difficult topics with others and resolving conflict. 

Shame resilience. When we learn how to be comfortable in our own skin, we can be vulnerable and open, not fearing judgment.

6. An inspiring personal vision. If you don’t know where you want to go, you are unlikely to get there.

Embrace baby steps. You can achieve your vision when you outline the path you want to take, and then identify the baby steps that will lead you down that path, while still being open to course corrections.

7. A spiritual life. A meaningful life is lived in relation to something larger than yourself. 

Curiosity. Finding meaning, creating connections, nurturing personal growth…there are so many life skills tied up with your spiritual life. Yet the most powerful one is curiosity because that gives us an open mind. 

When you systematically hone essential life skills like these* you lessen much of the suffering and discontent people experience in life. These are the building blocks to cultivate balance and satisfaction in everyday life.  

*Yes, there are even more skills we aren’t routinely taught as children that we need to live a joyfully, rich life. If you haven’t done so yet, please download an Introduction to The Stepping Forward Program and see how you can enhance other skills to bring the greatest happiness and satisfaction in life.


Thank you for the photo Annie Spratt. 

seven areas of life

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