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8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School

8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School

Lately, I’ve been simultaneously using less and less of what I learned in school while discovering more and more skills that are vital to success which were never even offered in school!

If I were to be 100% honest, probably the most valuable skill I learned in college was how to talk to girls (certainly a vital skill for happiness and success, but not what I was there to learn).

The economics classes? Nope, mostly academic mumbo-jumbo that is entirely useless to all but a handful of policy makers. The computer science classes? Hmm, maybe about 10% of that I’ve used, but it’s nothing I couldn’t have picked up with a couple good books, which I routinely do now. The history, English, philosophy, and physics? Aside from giving me a general understanding of the world and making me sound smart at cocktail parties, I can’t think of anything in there that I really use on a day to day basis.

Much of college gave me a bad taste for education. It made learning a real drag. I got through it to get the degree, but it wasn’t until after school that my education really began.

So what are the top skills that should be taught to every man, woman, and child who enters our education system? I’m glad you asked…

How to make people like you and network

For a skill so essential to success that affects every area of your life (from dating, to family, to work) it’s amazing how little people know about this. I can hear you saying…”I thought some people were just born with it and the rest of us were out of luck! You mean it’s something you can study?” Well, yes!

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There is great power in knowing you can reach out to your network whenever you have a problem to solve, to be able to reach key influencers at conferences and meetings, to make an impression on audiences, to project confidence and trustworthiness, and to make friends with other successful people.

The shy folks lurking in the corners at cocktails parties will never reach their full potential as human beings because our school system didn’t place enough value on “being social”. President Bush didn’t get the best grades at Princeton, but boy did he know how to network, and look where that got him.

Required reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships.

How to speed read and the power of audio books

Yes, speed reading and speed comprehension is real. The nominal investment of time it takes to learn pays off in spades for the rest of your life. After all, how would your life be different if you were able to read an extra book each week?

The same goes with audio books. If you spend an hour per day in the car learning instead of cursing at other drivers or listening to Britney Spears, you will have attended the equivalent of an entire semester course. Every major book today comes out on audio book, and you can read (listen to) them all without taking any additional time out of your day. Why wouldn’t you?

Looking at all the “required reading” links in this article might seem a little overwhelming, but I was able to listen to them all on audio books while driving around town. It was actually fun.

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Required reading: The Psychology of Achievement by Brian Tracey

How to set goals and manage time

Want to know how to get anything done in life? Our school system doesn’t feel that this is worth teaching apparently, but call me crazy, I think it’s important (I’m probably preaching to the choir on LifeHack.org, but still).

The research that has come out lately is groundbreaking…everything from eliminating multi-tasking, using blocks of uninterrupted time where phone and email are off, prioritized to-do lists, urgent but unimportant vs. non-urgent but important tasks, etc.

If you have ever found yourself being busy all day only to wonder what you accomplished at the end of it, then you need to learn this stuff. Understanding productivity will give you such an advantage over other people it’s hardly even fair.

Required reading: Getting Things Done, Eat That Frog, No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs

How to read a financial statement

Robert Kiyosaki is fond of saying that the rich teach their children how to read financial statements and the poor do not. He is right. Schools have never been very good at teaching people how to get rich, probably in no small part because professors are generally poor and wouldn’t know how to teach it.

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Yet with 95% of our population retiring at or below the poverty level, the economy in the dumps, and many people losing their homes to foreclosure, I bet plenty of Americans wish their school system had been a little more focused on money. After leaving college my friends could tell you the symbolic meaning behind the Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales, but they couldn’t tell you the difference between a balance sheet and income statement. Nice job school system!

Required reading: Cash Flow Quadrant, or this blog article

How to negotiate, use contracts, and not get taken advantage of

If you want to accomplish anything of significance you’re going to have to work with other people. Whether its contractors, outsourcing, employees, etc…there is a certain art to structuring good contracts with these people, knowing how to find good talent, measuring results, knowing how to fire them, and not getting completely taken for a ride in the process. School teaches you none of this and most people have to learn it from the school of hard knocks by literally get taken advantage of several times.

Required reading: I haven’t seen many in this area but one that comes to mind is Donald Trumps The Art Of The Deal

How to save and invest

Again, people are never taught how to build wealth, which is why we have a nation in credit card debt. Moreover, they are never taught the power of passive income streams and how to really break free from the rat race of working 9-to-5. There is a whole body of literature on this topic which is never even touched upon in traditional education.

Required reading: The Richest Man In Babylon, The Millionaire Next Door, or Ben Franklin’s The Way To Wealth

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How to be successful in life

Sounds sort of broad, doesn’t it? Yet some people have devoted a lifetime to understanding what makes people happy and successful. There are the big three: health, wealth, and relationships. People need to find what they really want to do with their life (something few of us ever really think about). We need to figure out how to do scary things that would be good for us, break bad habits, how to let go of bad things in the past, etc. There is a lot to learn here!

Required reading: What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, When I Say No I Feel Guilty, Think and Grow Rich, The Way Of The Superior Man (Ladies maybe you can recommend a relationship book for women in the comments)

How to spread an idea and basic marketing

Finally, I’ll just say that the basics of marketing are something everyone should understand. Even if you don’t think you’re in marketing, you’re in marketing. If you have an idea at work, or want to get a raise, or want to convince your kids to go see a movie then there is something applicable from the marketing world. Even just picking out a good headline for something you’re writing so that it will actually get read requires some basic marketing skills.

Required reading: Dan Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter, CopyBlogger, The Psychology of Influence

Conclusion

Until the school system comes around, I suppose its up to each of us to take care of our own education. That means reading, finding mentors, audio books, going to conferences, and of course blogs are a great resource.

What did you miss out on in school that you wish you’d learned? Or if you’re an educator do you feel there is a mismatch between what is taught and what’s important? Leave a comment below!

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

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Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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