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25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

25 Free Online Courses To Equip You With Valuable Skills

Now that the inspirational sparkle of the new year has worn off, you may be falling back into your old routines and habits. Statistically, you probably are. One way to jolt yourself out of a run is to engage in learning new skills. Last year I’ve had the privilege to do research, interview and report on some of today’s most successful people and they all have one thing in common. They are continually learning. Whether it’s reading books, going to seminars, or taking courses, continuously expanding your mind is a fundamental key to success.

If you didn’t love school, don’t worry. Today’s online options have come so far, you can listen on your commute, download everything to your smartphone, or take an entire class via watching short digestible online videos for free.

1. Programming for Everybody

You’ve probably seen or heard the headlines claiming “everybody needs to learn how to code.” If you agree, this University of Michigan course from Coursera is a great option.

2. How To Make iPhone Apps

This course from Udemy teaches how to finally create that app idea you have. If you are very computer savvy, take five hours and you’ll be ready to submit your first app to the App Store by the end of the day.

3. Introduction to Graphic Design

We live in a visual world. Just like some people argue that everyone should know the basics of coding, others feel we should all learn the basics of good design. This beginner course from Udemy teaches the basic principles of design and the theory behind creating attention-grabbing visuals.

4. Beginners Adobe Photoshop

Once you learn the basics of great design, you’re going to want to start designing! This tutorial for beginners from Adobe KnowHow teaches the fundamentals of a, if not the, vital graphic design program. Also a good course idea for beginning photographers.

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5. Internet Marketing for Smart People

If you want to up your marketing game, Copyblogger is a great resource. This class teaches you how to systematically implement effective marketing campaigns. You also get instant access to 14 value-packed ebooks on SEO, copywriting, keywords and more.

6. Diploma in Social Media Marketing

This course from ALISON goes beyond how to use the platforms and teaches the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, email marketing, blogging, social platforms and increasing site traffic.

7. Social Media 101

Want a social media overview? This is a two-minute-a-day class from Buffer to teach you the basics of social media. Learn how to use each platform, how to create a tone for your brand, and how to understand analytics.

8. Become a Networking Master

If you’re intimidated by networking events, meetings and conferences, you’re not alone. Progress your career or your business with this course from The Muse which teaches you how to network, communicate and give a clear elevator pitch to anyone and everyone.

9. Introduction to Public Speaking

Public speaking skills can improve your performance in meetings, calls, and of course on the stage. This edX class from the University of Washington will help you become more effective and confident on debating, presenting and persuading.

10. Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

Negotiation is not just essential for business owners crafting contracts. If you want to secure yourself a higher salary, better benefits, or that coveted office with a window, start with this course from the University of Michigan from Coursera.

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11. Competitive Strategy

Getting ahead and staying ahead is a science. This more advanced course from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München by Coursera will teach you the basic tools of game theory in order to dissect strategy and gain competitive advantages.

12. How to Finally Start Your Side Project

Many successful businesses started as a side hustle. This class offered by career experts at The Muse will walk you through how to focus and bring your ideas into the world, while still working your 9-to-5.

13. How to Start a Startup

Entrepreneurship is the new black. Stand out from other startups with knowledge on user growth, fundraising, operations, and more. This Stanford lecture by Sam Altman features leaders from successful companies like PayPal, LinkedIn, and Airbnb.

14. 21 Critical Lessons for Entrepreneurs

In the middle of starting your own business? This is a short course from Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar. He teaches rookie entrepreneurs key lessons based on his first-hand experience vetting ideas, raising money from investors, scaling a business, and more.

15. Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution

If you’re filled with a million ideas but can’t seem to bring any of them to life, check out this course from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University offered by Coursera. It will show you how to correctly build an idea into an actual, stable and scalable operation.

16. The Passive Income Business Plan

If you’ve looked into entrepreneurship, you’ve probably heard of passive income. It sounds too good to be true, is it? This basic introduction to online business from Udemy covers helpful information for entrepreneurs who are considering starting an online business but don’t know how to.

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17. Diploma in Project Management

If you want to become a department head, speed up the growth of your business, or simply become more efficient, you need to master project management. This course from ALISON offers an overview of project management methodology, tools, project life cycles and case studies.

18. The Secret Sauce of Great Writing

The more I study success, the more I realize that good writing is everything. No matter which career you’re in, whether you’re writing an email, a presentation, a script, or a storyboard. This course from Udemy teaches you to enhance your business writing.

19. Writing on Contemporary Issues

Want to get your op-ed featured on NYTimes.com? This course is an introduction from MIT on writing attention-grabbing prose for online audience with a clear and unique personal voice.

20. Chinese Language: Learn Basic Mandarin

This is another skill that is often recommended, especially if you want to climb up the ladder of international business. This beginner course from edX is free, but you can add a MandarinX Verified Certificate for $50.

21. Spanish I

Like Mandarin, many recommend adding Spanish to your resume. This is a beginner course from MIT that teaches Spanish through a quality drama-filled story.

22. Sports Psychology – The Winning Mindset

If you want to win in business, your career, or just in life, think like a winning athlete. Dr Cliff Mallet offers practical strategies in this Olympic.org course that will ensure you approach your next goal with the right mindset.

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23. The Science of Happiness

Who doesn’t want to be happier? The first class from University of California, Berkeley, offered by edX, will teach you science-based principles and practices for a happy and more fulfilling life.

24. Practical Ethics

If you ever look around at the world today and think “I don’t know what I believe anymore” this course will help you figure out just that. Examine your ethical beliefs with this Princeton class offered by Coursera.

25. Guided Meditations

There’s a reason many successful people meditate and practice mindfulness. Figure out those reasons in this introductory class from UCLA, taught by Diana Winston.

Featured photo credit: GaudiLab via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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