The Basic Life Skills you need
to Survive and Thrive
in the 21st century!

Much of the basic life skills were considered “extras” are now essential for managing uncertainty. Consider, over 100 years ago during the industrial age, you needed work skills that required simple reading and math, such as fishing, blacksmith-ing, or coal mining to survive. As time went on, you just needed a college degree, so you could get a secure job as an accountant or a lawyer. Now we have modern technological innovations such as the computer, it enables greater productivity which requires new skill sets, such as document management, programming, mixing music, video editing, etc.

Furthermore, with the explosion of inter-connectivity due to this thing called the “internet” :) we have more ways to communicate, collaborate, sell products, and services than ever before. As a result there is a lot of confusion going on, however it has opened a HUGE window of opportunities.

With this new, cheap form of communication, there are now billions of people literally at your fingertips (according to Internet World Stats). You can even have your emails or web page translated in over 25 languages in Google Translate. Isn’t perfect at the moment but it can help break down the communication barrier. Now, in a very short period of time we are more influenced by other cultures, which is another skill we may have to adapt to.

Secondary Skills Financial Literacy, Planning, Marketing, Job Hunting
Use your UNIQUE STRENGTHS – skill inventory
Core Work & Basic Life Skills Fundamental Learning & Mental Skills Current Technology Skills
Personal productivity
People skills
Leadership skills
Emotional Mastery
Self guidance
Multi-cultural skills
Social responsibility
Personal responsibility
Conflict management
Decision Making
Analytical skills
Critical thinking skills
Communication Skills
Creative Skills
Reading Skills (speed & extraction)
Knowledge Deployment
Problem solving skills
Accelerated Learning skills
Computer literacy
Internet skills
Media awareness
Information Management
Ethics & Character
Sense of Humor


The reason I put this as part of “basic life skills” is that having a solid core character is probably one of the most important component of creating stability in life. While it’s not considered a “skill”, it is a foundation for living.

So, once you have your core foundation in place, you won’t be swayed by the external changes, for your internal strength will remain intact and enable you to develop the basic life skills you need. Your character and ethics are not something you can really be learned, but the principles can be taught. So, learn or review the principles so you can make the best conscious choices.


The next “level up” from character are fundamental basic life skills, which are broken into 3 categories: basic life skills, mental skills and technological skills. As mentioned, new discoveries, new industries are being created faster than ever, which means we are living in an accelerating rate of change and instability. Despite all the changes, the basic life skills still matter, even more so. The fundamental skills are the building blocks to build additional basic life skills, so these are the ones you cannot ignore.

Another component to consider is your habits. Habits are great for life skill building, because they allow us to consciously develop additional basic life skills. For instance, once you have developed solid writing skills, you can learn math skills. When you have solid math habits, you can develop your engineering skills and so on. It’s the brain’s way of remembering your skills, so you don’t have to re-learn everything.

Your brain only has limited ability to develop new habits. Therefore, it’s important not to overload yourself, so start off with one at a time and it will be there for the rest of your life.

Core Work and Basic Life Skills

In addition to your particular career path, these are the skills that are necessary to build a solid foundation. For instance, having great leadership skills is more important than ever before. It used to be you could follow the pack in the coal mine and live a relatively financially secure life. Nowadays, with the advances of technologies, it allows one person to broadcast to the entire state, country and world.

This increases competition enormously with a more level playing field, but again there are more opportunities to lead. The ability to successfully coordinate team efforts requires solid leadership and communication skills.

You may not be interested in leading teams, but the fact of the matter is we are becoming more interconnected by the minute. That requires sensitivity to other cultures and countries around the world. Due to globalization, we are bombarded with new ideas which can be a distraction or something to utilize. Therefore, having sound decision making skills will have a higher impact now than just 10 years ago. So, keep in mind, if you’re the one leading the charge, you will be far less likely to be victimized by change. As Albert Einstein said, “The only way to predict the future is to create it.” Start creating the future now by developing your basic life skills.

Learning and Mental Skills

Education is no doubt an important component in the modern economy. However, since knowledge is expanding a rate that is double every couple years, which makes it impossible to keep up with everything new in our field. As a software developer, it’s absolutely INSANE what new tools they come out every month! However, if you have excellent thinking and learning ability, you will navigate the information explosion or even create valuable information yourself.

Another thing to keep in mind, it’s not the ability think and pick up new information, it’s the ability to transfer or combine that information with other people. As we become more interconnected, the ability to collaborate becomes more valuable and more critical. Just be sure you’re not one of those guys like Milton from the movie Officespace, who gets stuck in the corner, then into the basement! We are social beings, get out and work and learn from others!

Current Technology Skills

I put technology skills because as time goes on, I’m finding it to be getting to be almost impossible to be truly successful if we don’t keep up with the basics of technology. It can be used for research, fast communication, organization and so much more. More and more people are using technology to gain an edge on their competitors or increase personal productivity.

Technology is neutral, it can be a huge distraction or it can be used constructively to communicate and create. Also, this will likely change very quickly. Who knows we may have the Star Trek transporter? Wouldn’t that be an effective technology to harness? Oh wait, I’m too late! (sort of)

I remember when I was in 7th grade I bought a computer to play games and replace the typewriter. That $1000 worth of “caddy money” saved me hours, or even days working on papers. (I can’t BELIEVE there was a time I used the typewriter! I’m not THAT old!). Other than the idea of investing in Microsoft stock, that was probably the best money spent at the time. I knew computers were the “future”.

After we’ve mastered the fundamentals, we should focus our efforts on…


While the basic life skills are required for all of us to master “the game of life” to some degree, it doesn’t give you a focus you need to align with your unique personal strengths. There may be some overlap with the fundamental skills and your unique abilities, which is fine it just means you are likely to have a natural aptitude or have a high enjoyment. We only have so much time to develop ourselves, so it’s best to focus on what your natural strengths.


Even the slow changing “world of money” has changed the last 100 years. Back then your currency was gold or backed by gold. Credit cards were nonexistent, purchasing stocks were mainly for the upper class, let alone trading was only for the big boys. Nowadays, there a number of choices for the “rest of us” to choose from, which means more skills to learn and apply. Jeez, even something mundane as money has changed, and will likely keep changing.

I put this as secondary, not because it’s unimportant but because once you have the other basic life skills, you can learn to pick up anything. For instance, let’s take job hunting. Again, it’s an important thing for most of us. You will need solid communication skills to write a good resume and once your foot is “in the door” for the interview, you will need good people skills to get the job. (Unless, you’re at company loaded with incompetent middle management, such as "Initech". Then you probably don’t need ANY skills whatsoever!)

In conclusion, developing basic life skills, takes energy, a lot of times MASSIVE energy to achieve a level of mastery. Focus on getting your fundamentals skills right, develop solid habits, discover your unique strengths and the “change” that’s going on will be something you will embrace.

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