15 Essential Life Skills Not Taught At School - Mon, Sep 18, 2023
There’s much to learn about AI these days but how much do we know about being human?
Back to School: 15 Essential Life Skills Not Taught At School
These days rapid technological change requires staying ahead of what’s ahead. Learning about key technologies such as AI prepares you for an evolving digital economy and workforce. However, what it doesn’t prepare you for are essential life skills for everyday human living.
Here are 15 essential human life skills not taught in schools:
1. Cooking Basics
If you were fortunate enough to receive cooking lessons at home, you likely have a good foundation. However, if you weren’t taught how to cook, you may find yourself struggling to prepare healthy meals that provide the nutrition your body needs. While instant noodles are a quick and easy solution, they don’t offer the same cognitive and physical benefits as a nutritious meal would. By learning basic cooking terms and techniques, such as beating, whipping, or mincing, you’ll be better equipped to prepare healthy meals quickly and easily. You may even discover a passion for cooking or start growing your food at home, which can save you money and help you live sustainably.
2. Navigating the Healthcare Process
Navigating the healthcare system is as crucial as understanding your body, including your teeth and gums. While growing up, parents or caretakers usually schedule appointments, but in many cases, detailed information regarding how to choose a doctor or understanding insurance costs such as co-pays and deductibles remain unknown. Knowing about prescription drug costs and the overall business of healthcare can be helpful to avoid pitfalls. Taking personal responsibility is the key. Learning about your body, assessing your diet, and becoming savvy about good preventive health practices can make a significant difference.
3. Emotional Management
The ability to manage your emotions is critical to leading a happier and more successful life. Life is hard for everyone, so developing empathy for yourself and others can help you manage your emotions better. Emotional management doesn’t mean suppressing your emotions; it means gaining control over your mind and not allowing your emotions to control you. This involves monitoring your thoughts and becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learning from failure and practicing self-care is also essential for emotional management. Remember that failure is a part of success, and it’s significant to be willing to accept it and learn from it. Practicing self-care can also help you manage your emotions better. When you experience a setback, be kind to yourself and find productive solutions to manage your mind, such as learning something new, crafting, or playing music. Emotional management leads to increased self-knowledge, which can boost your inner confidence, stability, and relationships.
4. Relationship Management
Learning about relationships can benefit anyone at any age. From proper listening skills to selecting friends or romantic partners, or preparing for marriage, interpersonal relationships enrich the human experience. Over time, communication mediums have changed, impacting sensory experiences that used to serve as indicators of how someone is feeling. Nowadays, it’s difficult to pick up on someone’s emotions from a text or social media message, and emojis don’t always convey the full picture. In addition, modern communication channels are often designed for marketing purposes and brand following, which can lead to a lack of context and nuance in truly understanding someone’s perspective. Being a people person doesn’t necessarily mean being good at relationships. To improve your relationships, it may be helpful to diversify your communication methods and include face-to-face contact or voice calls. Another key to good relationships is getting to know yourself and your values. The better you understand yourself, the better you’ll be able to determine what you want and don’t want, and what you seek in others. This takes time, so be patient with yourself. Having a positive relationship with yourself is paramount as it can impact your relationships with others. Remember, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is the one with yourself. When you get to know yourself, the world becomes a friend.
5. Learning How to Learn
Learning is a continuous process that never stops. However, it is often said that hindsight is 20/20, and people often wish they knew then what they know now. Experience is a great teacher, but it is not an easy student. During the school years, learning experiences are not always valued enough, but they are far-reaching for learning about the world. Even the brightest minds among us are only scratching the surface, and there’s always more to learn, especially about what it means to be human. Nobody knows everything, and we are all trying to figure things out. As we change and grow, the world and our perceptions also change. Therefore, continuous learning is imperative.
If you want to optimize your learning, have you tried handwriting recently? Studies show that handwriting helps reinforce motor and sensory memory of what was learned. What sources of information do you prioritize and why? Are you limiting yourself by certain belief concepts? To stay neutral and naturally neural, it’s decisive to be conscious of your biases. By placing a high value on continuous learning, you’ll be able to broaden your mind, stay relevant and gain great returns.
6. Professional Etiquette
Being true to yourself is a sign of success. However, what may be authentic to you may not be universally understood by others. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you understand the difference between your private authentic self and your public life. Your public life is on display for everyone to see, including potential employers, business partners, and those who will evaluate your accomplishments. Professional etiquette is a universal language that is generally understood by all. It is valuable to be socially aware, considerate, and capable when attending professional meetings, networking for jobs, or attending similar events. You should be on time, prepared, and dressed appropriately. Research what is expected and what is considered appropriate. Don’t forget to add your personal touch, but make sure it’s suitable for the public. If you are ever unsure about how you come across, consider engaging with someone who has your best interest at heart.
7. Time Management
Often, there are multiple things to juggle, such as school, work, social life, and family, among many other things. To avoid dropping the ball, it’s helpful to have a realistic schedule that prioritizes tasks. It may not always be a linear process, as just-in-time adjustments may be needed depending on the circumstances. However, time is still the most valuable commodity there is. We all have the same amount of time each day - 24 hours. There are no excuses. Learn to distinguish between high-value productivity and busy work. Stick to proven principles, create realistic systems for achieving short-term goals, and duplicate the process for longer-term goals. Making the best use of the time you have can make all the difference in achieving your goals.
8. Personal Finance
Managing personal finances can be a complex and time-consuming task. For most of us, working to generate income takes up a significant portion of our time. This is where the adage “time is money” comes in. The ability to manage our finances effectively ensures that we can provide for ourselves and our loved ones. This involves understanding savings and investment strategies, including compound interest. Student finance is another aspect which includes loan types, financial aid, repayment, forbearance, and deferment. Additionally, understanding taxes, including your bracket and what you pay federally and at the state level, is necessary. To effectively manage your finances, you may need to conduct independent research or seek the advice of a personal finance advisor.
9. Credit Management
Managing credit is an essential aspect of personal finance. It is an indicator of how well an individual or entity meets contractual obligations. When a borrower receives credit, it is money or value that they must repay later, often with interest. Good credit means that you have been consistent in paying back what you owe on time while keeping your debt to a minimum. Take note that there are different types of credit, such as a line of credit or revolving credit, which includes car loans and credit cards.
Although credit cards are commonly used, best practices for using them are seldom discussed. To use your credit card wisely, it is recommended not to spend more than 30% of your credit limit for each credit card and to keep the oldest card in use, never close it. For instance, if you have a $1,000 credit limit, try not to spend more than $300 during your monthly cycle and ensure that you pay it off to avoid accruing interest. On the other hand, a line of credit usually refers to money borrowed as a cash advance. Home equity lines of credit are an example of a line of credit where a loan is taken out against the home for repairs or home renovations.
10. Car Ownership
Buying a car can be both an exciting and a stressful experience. First, do your due diligence to identify what you can afford based on your creditworthiness. This will help you determine the range of options available to you and which dealership to purchase from. It’s also helpful to have some knowledge of sales, negotiation, and motor vehicles to be able to discern whether it’s a good buy or not. It’s best to have someone experienced in car buying to assist you in the process. You will also need to decide whether you want to finance or own the car outright. Depending on your creditworthiness, you may need a co-signer. Additionally, you will need to consider warranties, car notes, and insurance to ensure that you make the optimal choice based on your finances.
Lastly, keep in mind that a car is a liability and not an asset, and it typically loses value once it’s driven off the lot. Routine preventive maintenance such as oil and filter changes and other minor repairs due to wear and tear are necessary. You may also want to learn how to change a tire for emergencies.
11. Renting or Buying a Home
When it comes to moving out and living independently, you have the option to either rent or buy a home. However, this is a significant decision, and buying a home can be more costly and demanding than renting. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as your financial situation is unique and will play a pivotal role in determining what works best for you. For those starting with a moderate salary and little to no credit, sharing a house with a roommate may be a good option to keep costs down. On the other hand, if you have a stable job, good credit, and sufficient finances to make a sizable down payment, and manage monthly payments, insurance costs, and other home expenses, purchasing a home may be a better option for you. Regardless of your decision, it’s best to consider the economic situation. Inflation affects both renting and buying, with rent increasing during inflationary periods, as well as home mortgage rates. However, although renting is often seen as “throwing away money,” it may be more cost-effective than home ownership, considering the savings potential versus the expenses associated with owning a home. Regardless of whether you rent or own, learning basic home maintenance skills such as changing filters, unclogging drains, and dealing with electric breakers will prepare you for the responsibilities of living independently.
Becoming a parent is a huge responsibility that no amount of money or life experience can prepare you for. It is a serious topic that requires careful consideration. The first step towards deciding whether or not to have a child is becoming self-aware. This involves assessing your nurturing qualities, maturity, and ability to manage practical daily living. Raising a child requires much more than just providing love, affection, shelter, food, and clothing. It involves a complete overhaul of your life and your priorities, leaving far less time for yourself or others. It is vital to have a family or a strong support system in place to balance the heavy load of parenting while still leading your own life.
Before deciding to have a child, ask yourself if you need to parent yourself first. If you are unable to provide for yourself - such as providing housing, insurance, transportation, food, and clothing - then it will be even more difficult to be responsible for another human life.
Since the 1960s, American civics education has experienced a significant decline, which has led to lower voter turnout rates. This is a tragic situation because, as a United States citizen of voting age (18 years or older), you have a stake in where you live. You can claim your stake in a variety of ways on the spectrum of civic engagement. Empowering yourself through civic knowledge, skills, and participation can make a significant difference between exercising personal power and feeling powerless.
You may have learned about the branches of government and the US Constitution, but do you know your role as a citizen? Voting is essential, but an informed, involved, and educated citizenry produces outcomes that are more closely aligned with its people’s interests. It is significant to understand that the government has its limitations. By connecting with others and learning about your capacity to become more socially responsible, you can contribute to personal growth and help shape society. This is a big deal, citizens.
14. Digital Citizenship
It’s difficult to imagine, but there was a time when the internet didn’t exist. Nowadays, we all use the internet in some way, whether we’re checking emails, posting on social media, uploading files, or programming software. It’s an incredible tool that has democratized information, but it shouldn’t be relied upon completely or replace physical reality. Here’s why: social media platforms use algorithms to predict and suggest content that can guide your internet experience, which means that past behavior will dictate future suggestions. This can be problematic if you’re trying to expose yourself to new information and ideas, as you may be stuck in a feedback loop.
Social media platforms are also focused on corporate, profitable goals that are designed to keep your attention, increase engagement, and ultimately change your behavior. Studies have shown that social media algorithms can alter your emotions and promote divisiveness. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s internal presentation explicitly stated that “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness”. It’s therefore essential to understand how these algorithms work and to be aware of your information diet. If you spend a lot of time online, what you think you’re thinking could be algorithms governing your mind. Remember, being online is like walking into a giant superstore with ads vying for your attention. The longer you stay, the more likely you are to buy something or buy into something. You don’t know who’s who or who’s telling the truth, so comments, likes, and dislikes shouldn’t be taken personally. It’s always best to stay neutral, non-reactive, and courteous, as this is your digital public. Brevity and perspective are your best friends when navigating the digital commons.
15. Digital Money
Welcome to the world of online transactions! Digital money has made it easy for us to carry out transactions online. There are several platforms that you can use for online transactions such as PayPal, Gpay, Venmo, Cash App, and cryptocurrency exchanges. However, the Internet is like a giant superstore, and there are good marketers as well as bad actors trying to scam and capture a percentage of the Internet store. It’s best practice to research online personas before taking their content at face value, especially in the age of deepfakes.
To secure your digital cash, activate two-factor authentication, write passcodes and key phrases down on paper, and never store them on the computer. For cryptocurrencies, it is advisable to get a hard wallet. Also, it is essential to research quantum computing as encryption is about to get a face-lift.