The beginning of a new year is the time to make plans, assess the past and re-assess for the future. Also, those challenging times we are living in provide us with the opportunity to reflect of how we spend our time. How much this activity is relevant for us, and how much that other one is not. So, why don’t we capitalize for the future here, to reach our goals tomorrow. In this blog, let’s review 12 skills worth to learn in 2021.
1 – Creativity
That is actually a skill in high demand in today’s job market. Why? Because as more and more jobs are getting automated, there still are human characteristics that machines are unable to imitate. Yes, some “song” has been written by an Artificial Intelligence program. But, you see, there is a difference between aligning notes together (which technically is music) and creating a sensitive, heartfelt and vibrant song, made of the expression of the feelings we have.
Creativity is a result of how much we adapt as human beings to the world that surrounds us. It is not a protocol, which machines are made to apply. It allows us to tackle the challenges that block our paths. Using creativity, we are able to divert objects and materials from their original purposes… Creativity is about adaptation. And today is all about adaptation, more than ever before.
So, wether it’s learning some instrument, writing, or graphic design, creativity is definitely one of the 12 skills to learn in 2021.
2 – IT skills
Whereas it was easy once upon the time to ditch the desk-job, let’s face it it isn’t true anymore. More and more jobs involve some desk-job at some level. Whether you’re an office coordinator or a baker, getting a grasp of Office 365, managing an inbox or working productively via keyboard shortcuts has become one of the basics of the job. Therefore, if you’re not familiar with it yet, it’s definitely time to pick-up in 2021!
Now if you already know your way around your e-mails and your keyboard, there is always room for improvement! You could learn the specifics of spreadsheets. You could also leverage the power of G-Suite and Zoom to collaborate on projects online!
Remember, these things tend to evolve fast. So, even of you feel comfortable with them now, it’s always a good thing to dip back in regularly, just to make sure our knowledge is still up-to-date. These skills will help you achieve more with less efforts. It will free-up time to focus and move-on an actual work
3 – Organizing and self-management
Surely, we know how to do our jobs, or perform household chores. But do we always do these in the most productive way? That’s a trickier question, right?!
Like IT skills within these 12 skills to learn in 2021, self-management is at the core of productivity. It’s a toolkit to leverage our own potential to get more done in less time and effort.
More resource to come on this on the blog, but here are 3 pointers to start:
- Get to use a cloud-based calendar, that way you will keep it close to you wherever you go. Don’t overcrowd it with random tasks. Use a separate To-Do list for that. Note that both your calendar and To-Do list app can be synced so a given task won’t overlap with a meeting in your calendar.
- Tackling digital distraction: if you have trouble keeping away from social media, remove the apps from your phone and keep it away while working. The extreme cure is using a smartphone cookie jar. It is a box that will lock for a certain period of time with your phone inside of it. You won’t get access to your phone so you’ll be more inclined to get work done.
- Identify your productivity peak: that is the time of the day during which we get the most productive. It happens every day, could be early in the morning, late in the evening or right after lunch. Mine, for example, tends to happen either right after breakfast or after lunch. It’s different for each of us. Once you’ve found it, use it to schedule your most difficult and demanding tasks of the day. One that is done, work the others around that.
4 – Self-expression
Never have people been communicating more than today, thanks to texting and video-calling mostly. But that enhanced level of communication doesn’t make us actually proficient at expressing ourselves, necessarily. Not because we speak do people understand what we say the way we intend.
On another hand, writing a text to a friend is one thing, but writing a cover letter or structuring a resume is something else. For these we need more than grammar, vocabulary and spelling (which we lack sometimes…). We need to know how to structure information. How to get it the most relevant to others, wether while writing or speaking to them.
Writing a cover letter, for example, is not about just saying that you want that job because you need to make money. Even though it boils down to that. It’s about demonstrating that you could be the very right fit for the role! Because of your past experiences, your curriculum, skills… and overall, because of the type of person you are. Writing in such a way can be difficult, fortunately there are resources for that.
5 – Digital media
When you think about it, almost everyone has always been using some sort of social media: wether online platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or simply good old e-mail and prints in the mail. But what is different today is that creative power is accessible to everyone and in different formats. With the web getting more and more oriented towards visual content, getting a better knowledge of digital media art is even more relevant today.
Wether you want to enrich your social media posts, create and sell digital artwork online, create your own podcast or start a YouTube channel, you will need a solid understanding of photo editing, vector design and multimedia editing. It goes without saying that these skills could easily transfer into your day-job and help you propel your career. Indeed, more and more companies and organizations today embrace the world of social media.
6 – Nutrition & fitness
I don’t know to sound mystical here, but hear me out. Life is a journey. And ad in every journey, you have to maintain moving piece in good order for them to keep moving… For us human beings, food is fuel. But there is good and bad fuel out there. Therefore You cannot go far in life if you feed yourself with bad fuel. Growing a sense of good nutrition will be beneficial to yourself and your endeavours. Knowing how to create a healthy diet is definitely relevant in this list of the 12 skills to learn in 2021.
Now, we humans need good foods but we also need to exercise regularly in order to stay fit and enjoy life. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about training for The Iron Man here. Just making sure our body gets it’s regular dose of moving throughout the day. It could start with simple actions like keeping the TV’s remote away from the couch, going for walks around the block. Should you want to up that a notch, you could look at incorporate a small exercise routine in your day. That could be as simple as doing the plank and some jumping-jacks or squats for a minute 3 times a day!
7 – Adopt Mental Models
What are Mental Models
The world that surrounds us is governed by the rules of physics, mathematics and chemistry. And more of our decisions and actions in life act in relationship with these rules to produce given outcomes. Although these rules are numerous and complex, they often gravitate around generalist, standalone concepts.
Mental models are representations of these concepts, of how something works. They aim to provide a simplistic but comprehensive view of that dynamic. So, put in a simpler way, mental models gather in some sort of toolbox that we then can use to understand our world better and build up our own skills and grow individually.
Some examples of mental models are:
- The circle of competence: basically about honestly acknowledging what you know and what you don’t know.
- The map is not the territory: why do we still make mistake reading maps or notices? Because there are just tool. And a tool will not do the job on its all. It still takes reasoning to get a job done.
- Relativity: this principle spans across a variety of domains, but the general foundational aspect is that something can truly be comprehended if the observer stays out of it. For example: you will not perceive a sense of motion while standing in an elevator, but you will if you stand outside of it.
- Feedback loops: this another way of saying “every action leads to a reaction”.
8 – Learn a new language
Why learn a foreign language?
Speaking more than one language provides a competitive advantage, wether in career advancement or business! Beside, learning another language opens up our perception of our own mother-tongue. Because languages influence each other, I will start to notice some filiation between words, expressions and how sentences sometime articulate as well.
Moreover, beyond enriching one’s capacity to speak, mastering a foreign language will open up a whole new culture to you. Thus, you will learn to notice things like cultural biaises, or the relativity of prejudices: what is right/good in our one’s culture could be wrong/bad in the other. Overall, learning a language teach us how to interact with others and understand their way of thinking.
What are the most spoken languages in the world right now?
So now that we got sense of the value of learning foreign languages, you might what is the most relevant language too be learnt. As in which in the most spoken language in the world so you can get better benefit of the work you will put in learning it. That a way of seeing it, but maybe not the best to tackle such a challenge. But let’s answer this question.
So first of all, it’s important to differential languages by their number of native speaker (people for whom the language is their mother tongue, usually within a country or a group of countries) and their total number of speakers (when the language is used as as standard, like English). Here we will focus on the total number of speaker for each language.
Here is the top 5 chart:
- English (1.13 Billion total speakers in the world)
- Mandarin (1.12 Billion total speakers in the world)
- Hindi (615 million total speakers in the world)
- Spanish (534 million total speakers in the world)
- French (280 million total speakers in the world)
9 – Commercial awareness (AKA business acumen)
At school, we have been taught about how to perform a job. But most of us are doing job for the account of a given company. And a company has its own way to articulate, move, live… As a result, it’s important for the career-focused as well as the entrepreneurial-focuses individuals to learn the basic skills to understand how businesses work among the 12 skills to learn in 2021.
What are the basic business skills?
Every business evolves within a set of essential areas for its own growth and survival. Such areas are:
- Financial management (accounting, cash flow, assets and liabilities…)
- Marketing (sales, customer services…)
- Communication, negotiation and networking
- Project management
How to learn business skills?
Start by figuring out what hiring someone actually mean from a company’ standpoint. What are the factor by which it assesses the value of its workforce… These 2 topics alone, on top of providing you with a better understanding, will probably help you to perform better in your every-day tasks as well!
By the way no, you won’t necessarily need to go through an MBA program to learn these basics. There are plenty of resources available online. You could also integrate some business networking group with this uncommon and interesting request… You could find some mentoring opportunity right there! It’s also a great ice-breaker. Another way to go (though it may not work for everyone, everywhere, you’ll have to gauge by yourself) could be sitting down with your boss and share your wish to learn more about the business side of business. They could gladly accept to become your mentor!
Finally, it’s also important to understand that business culture goes beyond the boundaries of a company itself. There is also some employee-focused business worth considering. If you are looking for a job at the moment, I recommend this other post on our blog about how to handle an upcoming job interview.
10 – Financial literacy
That one should have come first in this list of 12 skills to learn in 2021. Because it is probably the most important of all. Because it pertains to your financial means, it is really the one skill that will allow you to take back control and build up your personal development. Therefore, if you are foreign to concepts like tax-credits, budgeting and investing, it is definitely the place to start.
How do taxes work and how to get tax credits?
Alright, let’s start with the less exciting topic of all (for most of us). This is boring, sometimes dreadful topic. However, every year we have to sit down and file away! There is no escape! Unless you’re under 18 years of age… So, since we have to do it anyway, better to learn to do it properly.
I’m not trying to turn you into a tax expert of every form available out there. Thankfully, there are great softwares for that. However, knowing what happening in the background will help get better tax credit!
However, each country has its own rules so it’s important to keep that in mind. For example an explanatory article about the US tax system and its evolution over years.
Learn how to budget and save money
Every financially literate will tell you this: “they don’t teach about money at school”. And guess what, it’s true! Money and financial independence has always been a corner stone of life… Yet, no textbook will ever mention it. Thankfully, there’s been a wide number of initiatives worldwide, usually led by millennials, to offer some very educative content on the topic. Namely, the youtube channel “The minority mindset”, Graham Stephen and Erin Lowry’s book “Broke Millenial”…
The first thing to understand with money is that literally like rain on a field. Do nothing and you will be dependant on the weather to grow your crops, leaving starving at some point or another. Now, if you learn to build storage capacity for the water and irrigation system, you have a much more sustainable rig!
Budgeting is such a tool. You already know where your money come from, you just have to know where it goes (and how much of it goes away) to make the right adjustment. That part of budgeting is, to me, the most important and it’s called expense tracking. Indeed, when it comes to finance, most of us are living on auto-pilot and we only worry when the rain stops (or when cash stops coming in). In order grow towards financial independence, we need to find ways either to retain more of our income (by reducing or expense) or earn more money. Now the former tends to be the easiest option, because there are always expenses that can be cut. For example, the famous daily latte, cable TV, cell phone plans, Uber Eats… You get the idea.
Tracking these expenses will provide a better vision on how much you are actually spending on things that you don’t actually need or that you make yourself, at home, for 10 times less money (Hello, 13 cents home-made egg-muffin.. Be right back!). One you find the way to cut your expense you will have more money left over. That money could then be used to pay down high-interest debts like car loans and credit-card balances, or build a security net (emergency fund) that will allow you to avoid falling back into debt later on. And if you already that money aside, you can it aside for other goals like education, a down-payment for a home, or a vacation!
How to start investing your money
If you’re already debt-free and have some money put aside (3 to 6 months worth of income) for unforeseen events and emergencies, it might be a good thing to look at investing the leftovers. Indeed, interest rates on savings are too low to keep it with inflation, meaning the money you leave idling at the bank is slowly losing its value. To avoid that, you should aim at greater returns for this money by investing it!
I’m not talking about funding your cousin’s new space-themed cocktail bar (no offence). Or buy into the hype and put all the money into the speculative stock of the moment… Simply invest in a low-fee index fund via a registered account (Roth-IRA in the US, TFSA in Canada or ISA in the UK). This will allow tax-free gains on your investment. Proven data exists that index funds have outperformed individual stocks over the last 100 years in world-wild. That’s worth considering.
11 – Learn to DIY
We are almost done with this list of 12 skills to learn in 2021. The second-last would be DIY. Indeed, knowing how to do simple tasks around the house or on your car could not only save you some money but it could also provide you with some sense of fulfilment. I remember the first time I’ve installed laminate flooring, or changed a light bulb on my car… Yes these are insignificant tasks, but they prove your own abilities to yourself. Knowing that you are capable of tackling this kind of talk is very rewarding. You’ll see…
12 – Arts of living
It’s always beneficial to make sure you behave accordingly in certain social situation so you don’t unwillingly offend your hosts. If you find yourself struggling sometimes to engage conversation for example, you could benefit from growing your communication skills. Understanding the rules of rhetorics is another example of a useful social tool. It could get you out of a potential uncomfortable situation while being with other people. Or prevent altogether.
So there you have it all: my comprehensive list of 12 skills to learn in 2021! I hope you liked it. Feel free to let me know your suggestions in the comments below for what you think I’ve missed here. Thanks for reading and happy learning!