We all know real life is a little more complex than that, but the start of a new calendar year does provide a chance to reflect. And maybe, just maybe, we can do certain things a little better next year.
It can start with something as simple as learning a new skill. In fact, that’s a good thing to do at any time, so if you find yourself reading this long after New Year’s day is a distant memory, hang in there for a sec. There’s never a bad moment in life to learn something new.
These 10 new skills are just suggestions, and they’re just a few of the many, many, nearly-infinite new things you could embrace in the year ahead. Any of these will not only give you a new skill, but also the satisfaction that only comes from personal accomplishment. That’s something you can carry with you into all areas of your life.
1. How to Be a Better Reader
The benefits of reading are too numerous to list. It helps with everything from memory and stress relief to broadening your worldview and expanding your vocabulary. And guess what? You’re doing it right now! Good job! We thought we’d start with an easy one. In all seriousness, becoming a better and more disciplined reader can be hugely impactful, whether you prefer to read on a tablet, listen to audiobooks or thumb through paperbacks. It doesn’t have to be classic literature, either. Pick a genre you find interesting, whether it’s history, travel, short stories or poetry.
2. How to Grow a Garden
Few things in this life are more deeply satisfying than growing one’s own food. And while gardening can be intimidating, it’s not as challenging as you might think. Take a gardening class if you really feel like a newbie and want some guidance. But pretty much anybody can keep a tomato plant alive, and there are plenty of equally accommodating garden veggies and herbs that don’t require too much maintenance.
3. How to Make Fire
If you can make a fire in the wilderness, you’ve mastered one of the most critical survival skills. But start by learning to build one in a safe place, like a campground or your backyard. Learn how to collect firewood and kindling, how to make tinder, and how to arrange your burnables for the most successful fire. Learn how to make a fire with matches, then with only a single match, and then with no matches at all.
4. How to Be a Better Listener
Look, we get it. Not everything that everyone has to say is interesting. But a lot of what you hear might actually be more interesting if you were a more engaged, active listener. When in a conversation, don’t interrupt, zone out, make judgements or plan what you’re going to say next. Just be focused and attentive, make eye contact with the speaker, and pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Being a better listener can bring some tremendous benefits to both your personal and professional life.
5. How to Fix… Something
It takes decades to become a jack-of-all trades handyman, but we all have to start somewhere. Basic home repairs are a good jumping-off point, and you can start with something small, like replacing a window pane, patching drywall, re-hanging a shelf, or fixing a leaky pipe. As you start to develop skills, you’ll start to be able to build and repair all kinds of stuff. Just be sure to do your research. There are some great books and YouTube channels out there.
6. How to Perform Basic First Aid
This is a skill that benefits not just you, but everyone around you. When an accident occurs and someone gets hurt, be the person who knows what to do. Knowing how to perform basic CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, deal with cuts or burns, spot a concussion and support a sprain are all crucial skills. If you don’t already know, now is the time to learn.
7. How to Cook Something (NOT on the Grill)
Sorry mister grillmaster, but it’s time to learn how to do some real cooking. Everybody should know how to feed themselves well, and if you can make a great meal for the folks around you, so much the better. It can be challenging, but there are few more rewarding skills. All your future date nights and family dinners will be better for it. Start with something simple like omelets, from-scratch pasta sauce, broiled fish or roast chicken, and you’ll be well on your way.
8. How to Manage Stress and Anxiety
We all experience stress and anxiety. It can come from work, family, finances or any number of often-unexpected sources. We all have to deal with it, but how we deal with it in a healthy way is another question entirely. When left to fester, stress can cause all manner of physical and psychological symptoms. Many people find comfort in anything from meditation to physical exercise, but your ideal stress management method may be completely unique to you.
9. How to Play an Instrument
Playing an instrument can be deeply satisfying, and you don’t have to be a virtuoso to enjoy it. You don’t even have to be a virtuoso to sound good; learn four or five chords on the guitar, and you’ll have thousands of songs to choose from. Doesn’t have to be the guitar either! Practice the violin. Finally take piano lessons. Dust off that banjo you’ve been threatening to learn for years. You’ll be glad you did, and your family will eventually warm up to it too. Probably.
10. How to Be Better with Money
Real world time. Good money management skills are a must, and they’re not something most of us are born with or ever learn in school. Everybody needs to learn how to make and stick to a budget, plan for the future, make investments and finance major life moves like a new house or car. These things don’t happen overnight, and there will be bumps and frustrations along the way, but shifting your financial mindset can improve your life one step at a time.