The 9 Essential Life Skills for the Post-Pandemic Era
You don’t need me to tell you how much the world has changed in 2020. The pace of societal and technological change was already accelerating before the world turned upside down. The pandemic has served to further question the way we live.
It has brought to the forefront many things that were there already but we didn’t pause for long enough to address. Climate change, business uncertainty and political upheaval on a macro level. On a personal level, many of us are thinking more deeply about our careers and what we want from our future.
Key to having a prosperous future is ensuring that we have the ‘right’ skills.
If you’re anything like me then you will have focussed on your career while not growing the right life skills. This year has made me think about what being resilient means both in mental fortitude but also in terms of financial freedom.
Here are the essential life skills you will need to take you into the post-pandemic era.
1. How to Change a Bicycle Inner Tube
We’ve experienced what the world could be like with fewer cars on the road in 2020. And it was amazing. We breathed cleaner air. Wildlife returned. Children could play on the streets again.
I rediscovered the simple pleasure of riding a bike. I don’t mean Tour de France type cycling. The more genteel kind. I have a trusted old everyday bike with a shopping basket on the front. During lockdown this year, I started to use it to pop to the grocery store.
This simple change feels so virtuous. Good for the planet for using my gas-guzzling diesel SUV a lot less. Plus I’m getting an extra boose of fitness. And I’m self-limiting how much I buy each visit because I can only buy what I can fit in my bicycle basket.
This should be our future. Going back to peddle power whenever we can and ditching the car. We knew this already. The pandemic has reminded us how great the world was before cars took over.
2. How Compound Interest Works
Knowing that something huge can come along without warning to decimate the job market is a reminder that nothing is permanent. We all already knew that we can be laid off at any time. We just didn’t want to admit it to ourselves.
The events of this year are a wake-up call on the importance of having an emergency fund of savings that we can fall back on in times of need. We understand now more than ever that being in debt means that we don’t own the money that we earn — the bank does.
How do you set yourself up in the post-pandemic world to have more financial security? You need to understand how compound interest works.
Understanding compound interest is your first step towards financial freedom. The is the key to understanding debt and investments. The foundational concept for understanding how money works.
When you understand how interest works, you will realise that saving your money in cash will result in your money depreciating in value over time.
It will help you create a strategy for paying off your debt faster. And ultimately not getting into debt in the first place.
Having financial freedom doesn’t mean being able to give up work. It simply means having more choices to do the sort of work that you want to do in the post-pandemic world.
3. How to Sell
No matter what you want to do with your life, you need to know how to sell. You might not be in a job with ‘sales’ in your title but you will still need to have selling skills no matter what you are doing.
Have a great idea for a new improved process for managing content within your company? You will need to sell your idea to your manager and to your peers.
Want to land a new job? You will need to sell yourself.
Life in a post-pandemic world is likely to result in an acceleration of the gig economy. More of us will have side hustles resulting in the need to sell both yourself and your product.
In order to sell, you need to understand your customer. Whether that ‘customer’ is a work colleague or someone who will pay you for a service.
You must understand your customer needs. And have a clear and compelling proposition that sets you apart from your competition.
Even something as ‘simple’ as becoming a writer on Medium requires skills of understanding your target audience and how your writing can fulfil their unmet need.
4. How to Cook Nutritious Meals
We have been cooking at home more through necessity during 2020. A survey found that 32% of Brits believe that their eating habits have changed for good.
Preparing and eating your own meals at home has multiple benefits.
You have a clearer understanding of your own nutritional health. You feel good about the achievement of creating a beautiful meal. And you save money.
You don’t need an extensive repertoire. Just 5 go-to recipes are enough.
It just takes a little planning to write out a shopping list before you go to the store to avoid aimlessly wandering around the aisles and buying your same old-go to convenience food.
There are many good cookbooks available these days. But there are also many great free resources such as Pickup Limes.
No excuses for eating a jar of Nutella and calling it dinner.
5. How to Make Things with Wood
I love Ikea as much as you do. Their affordable and easy(ish) to construct furniture has transformed our homes. Having a home that looks stylish is within the reach of a modest budget.
There is still a place for Ikea in the post-pandemic world. But what if you had the skills to build your own furniture?
I have such fond memories of my Grandfather working with wood. He made me my a doll’s house filled with intricately made mini-furniture.
The basis for all things woodworking is the humble box. It’s not as hard as you might think. Keep it simple and learn to make a box and go from there.
6. How to Plank
No, not more wood. I am talking about the exercise position with elbows and toes on the floor. This exercise builds a strong core.
Working from home is likely to become more routine in the post-pandemic world. Even when it’s safe for us all to go back into the office, the genie is out of the bottle for how much companies can save by not paying for expensive leased office space. We are not likely to go back to how things were for quite some time to come.
The nature of my working day has changed. I now have to make a more conscious effort to move around during the day. I am glued to back-to-back video calls. This is bad for our posture. Combat the sitting disease by maintaining a strong core.
The best way to do this is by doing planks rather than situps.
7. Understand the Scientific Method
Have you developed an interest in understanding how viruses work during 2020? I have a PhD in Biochemistry and found that many friends and colleagues are more curious about science in 2020.
This is encouraging that importance of science and the scientific method is at the forefront of people’s minds.
But before you can understand the spread of disease, treatments and vaccines, you need first build foundational knowledge. This is really the secret sauce to understand anything — start with the basics and build from there.
For any area of knowledge, if you don’t build strong foundations for your mental house of understanding, it’s at risk of falling down.
For medicine and all fields of research, the underpinning principle is the scientific method.
Understand this and you can critically evaluate anything from the latest medical breakthroughs in the news to what foods you should eat. You can make better decisions about your own health by being able to assess what is backed by evidence versus someone telling you that injecting bleach is a treatment.
By having an understanding of the scientific method, you can apply the principles in everyday life situations. You will develop the ability to observe problems in work or at home and form hypotheses — or questions and test which of these are true.
For example, you’ve observed that since you updated your home page on your website that you’ve had a dip in the number of visitors. You are not sure what the reasons are so you pose a set of hypotheses — or questions to test.
Could it be SEO? Could it be the external links I’ve broken? Look at your available data then set ‘experiments’ to figure out the optimal solution.
8. Be a Good Listener
Good communication is the foundation for everything in life. We all want to be heard and understood.
So many people will have been through the toughest of times this year. Many feel more alone and isolated than ever. Being a good friend means being a good listener.
Really listening to what your significant other is saying will guide you to avoid the temptation to ‘fix’ problems when chances are that they simply want you to listen and understand.
Being a good listener will improve your relationships at home and at work. It will make you a more desirable person to be around.
9. How to be Happy with what you Already Have
This is the ultimate life skill. I’m not suggesting this is at all easy. Happiness means different things to each of us. But if you can live your life without a sense that something is missing, then you are truly at peace.
Happiness is not having the latest expensive car or a big house. We all know this but all fall victim to the lure of the hedonic treadmill.
Being content with what you already have will free you to live a more fulfilled life where you can discover your true passions.
While we can debate the details and what‘s missing from this list of ‘essential’ life skills, hopefully, we can agree on one thing. That everyone wants to be both physically and mentally healthy — and happy.
We want to form close and fulfilling relationships. We all want to do something meaningful with our lives.
Let’s use 2020 as an opportunity to remind ourselves of what really matters and refine our life skills to give us all a better future.