Your ability to acquire skills will determine your value in the market and the level of impact you can have in the world.
While learning any skill can be useful, some skills are more valuable than others. When it comes to deciding which skill to learn, you should focus on skills that are transferrable to other skills.
For example, you could learn how to knit but there’s not too many ways you can transfer those skills to your life. However, if you were to learn how to speak Spanish, these skills can help you improve your communication skills, career opportunities, and the ability to speak with people you never could have before.
Here are 7 skills you should learn before you turn 50:
Negotiating is one of the most important skills you can learn, and a skill you can apply in every aspect of your life. Whether you want to grow your business, make more money, or have more control over your life, learning to negotiate effectively can help you get there.
Developing your negotiation skills can also help you develop empathy, listening, and sales skills. The question is, how do you start developing negotiation skills?
Where to learn: The best way to start negotiating is to start small. While reading books can help you, you don’t want to get stuck in “learning mode”, and instead embrace the “learn as you go” mode. You could literally practice negotiating anywhere, from your local flea market to a street vendor, where negotiating is more acceptable.
“The best move you can make in negotiation is to think of an incentive the other person hasn’t even thought of – and then meet it.” – Eli Broad
Learning to play an instrument can not only impress your friends (or your date), but it can help improve your cognitive skills. Playing an instrument has been shown to increase your concentration skills, which is an increasingly important skill in the distracting world we live in.
If you’re new to the music industry, you can check out this article to know which instrument you should play.
Where to learn: You can find a local teacher that can meet up with you in-person on craigslist or Kijiji, and have them come to you. Or if you’re a busy person, you can check out these list of websites to learn different instruments online.
3. Public speaking
Public speaking, according to Warren Buffett, is one of the most important skills you can learn to advance your career.
Being able to communicate effectively can positively impact nearly everything you do in your life, from your career, relationships, business — the list goes on. Not everyone is born a great communicator, and it’s a skill that can be learned and developed by anyone who’s committed.
Where to learn: Join a local Toastmasters organization in your city, and you can start to practice your speaking skills and receive constructive and immediate feedback from a supportive community.
4. Personal finance
This one is quite underestimated by most people, especially recent college graduates. No, it’s not a sexy topic to learn, but none of the dreams and goals you have will come true if you don’t master this skill.
Being able to manage your own finances is the first step to achieving freedom. Instead of ignoring the issue, we have to confront our fears or ignorance, and take control of our budget.
Where to learn: This is one topic where being educated is a great place to start. You can read books on personal finance, check out personal finance bloggers, and even go see your personal accountant.
5. Speed reading
Bill Gates has shared that if he had one superpower, it would be the ability to read faster.
Time is the most important and limited commodity that we have. Learning how to read faster can save you dozens of hours per year, even hundreds if you’re an avid reader.
Where to Learn: You can take a free speed reading course online, or you can use technology such as Spritz to increase your speed.
If you want more success, then you must surround yourself with people that have achieved what you want to achieve. This could be a mentor, coach, or advisor that can guide you to where you want to go and even see blind spots that you may miss.
In order to become a better networker, especially with high-profiled individuals, then you need to learn how to bring value first. The rule of thumb is, the bigger the person you’re targeting, the more value you need to deliver upfront before asking for anything.
Where to learn: The best way to learn how to network is to watch how other successful people network. In order to do this, you need to attend industry conferences, networking events, and get in front of these people in-person.
7. Learn a new language
As the world becomes more globalized, we’re quickly entering a multilingual era. Twenty years ago, you could get away with knowing just one language. But today, with businesses going global, traveling becoming more affordable, and countries becoming more multicultural, it’s not enough to know just English.
Learning a new language can help improve your career, grow your business (especially if you’re targeting non-English speakers), and even build your confidence. If you’ve went your entire life speaking only one language, then learning a popular language like French, Mandarin, or Spanish can open yourself up to a world of over 500M – 1 Billion people.
“Study a foreign language if you have opportunity to do so. You may never be called to a land where that language is spoken, but the study will have given you a better understanding of your own tongue or of another tongue you may be asked to acquire.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Where to learn: You can take advantage of websites like Rype, offering unlimited one-on-one Spanish lessons online, or if you want to dip your feet into the pool, start off with free mobile apps like Duolingo to get started.