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Skills are abilities or competencies individuals possess that allows them to effectively perform tasks or succeed in a role. Learning relevant skills prepares you for prospective responsibilities. Every industry like health, engineering, tech and entrepreneurship demands a skill set from individuals seeking to excel in the field. If you’ve ever thought ‘what skills can I learn’, this article may provide you with a clearer perspective on how to make a decision.

Factors to consider when choosing a skill to learn

Some skills are a hot topic on the internet and they draw a lot of attention. Skills like content writing, graphics design and web development are fairly common areas people talk about. You’re probably considering joining the wagon (which isn’t a bad thing).

But, how do you decide what skill is relevant to you and what you should invest time and effort in learning? Here are a few things you may want to consider:

Reason

It’s a no-brainer but one may get caught up in the delusion that they can learn anything. Or worse, blindly follow any trending skill. Do you possess a genuine passion for something? Are you looking to just improve your daily life or performance?

Do you want a high-income skill that will make you the most money? Deliberating on why you want to learn a skill may guide your choices and also fuel your motivation when you eventually get started.

Long-term goal

What are your long term goals? Do you want to build an audience, generate passive income sources, make more money or improve productivity in your workplace? Your long term goals determine the kind of skills that may require your focus.

For instance, if you want to build an audience on any platform, you may need to get into content creation. This may require skills like writing, editing, designing and storytelling.

Time and effort

How much effort are you willing to invest in learning a new skill? Well, some skills don’t require so much time and effort. Improving your organisational skills may require way less time than learning a programming language.

Being aware of the time and effort a skill may demand from you can help you make a decision. If you’re like me, you may decide to experiment with different skills to see what tickles your fancy the most (or the least demanding, no one’s judging you).

Level of importance

How important is it that you learn a new skill? Will it improve your productivity at work, relationship with loved ones, daily schedule or income?

Considering how much value gaining or improving a skill can bring to your life may motivate you. You may wish to effectively organise your schedule and learning such a skill may influence your quality of life and how much time you spend with loved ones.

Types of skills

You can group most skills intro two main categories:

Hard skills

Hard skills are technical abilities that allow you to perform a job or task. You can learn these skills and measure your progress based on the nature of tasks you can complete independently. People acquire hard skills from education, internships, training and relevant work experience. Examples of hard skills include computer programming, writing, surgery and baking.

Soft skills

Soft skills refer to human behaviour or character traits that allows them to connect with people and fulfil their obligations effectively. If hard skills describe what you can do, soft skills define how you do them. How do you organise your tasks? What time do you start? How well do you work with others to achieve a collective goal? You know, things like that.

Acquiring soft skills requires real life experiences that allows you to practise and strengthen them. Employers usually seek soft skills alongside relevant hard skills when screening candidates for an available role.These skills may include time management, teamwork and communication.

Another way to categorise skills

The hard and soft skills are great umbrellas that house the many skills in existence. However, it may be easier to make a decision when you streamline your area of focus.

To help you select a skill that’s most relevant to you, you can start with an umbrella word in a niche or industry of interest. For instance, if you want to be more organised, there are specific skills you can target. Here are some examples of different skill categories;

  • Content creation. Examples of skills you may want to learn as a content creator may include writing, graphics design, and video editing. Of course, the kind of content you prefer determines which skills are of a higher priority.

  • Leadership skills. To improve as a leader, you may want to practise skills like conflict resolution, decision making, problem solving and people management.

  • Digital marketing skills. Digital marketing may require skills like graphics design, content marketing, data analysis and search engine optimization.

  • Organisational skills. This may include project management, goal setting, planning schedules or tasks and meeting deadlines.

  • Teaching skills. As a teacher, you require skills like patience, communication, time management and leadership.

  • Web developer skills. Examples of skills web developers possess may include, analytical skills, responsive design, debugging, html, css and javascript skills.

  • Home maintenance skills. These skills may include managing a home’s budget, doing laundry, garden care, basic plumbing, painting and shopping for groceries.

  • Study skills. May include note taking, reading, analysing information, test taking and time management.

  • Research skills. Includes finding relevant sources of information, data gathering, analysis and summarising.

  • Interpersonal skills. Examples of interpersonal skills are communication, diplomacy, active listening, empathy and negotiation.

Start with one

I know you may want to learn as many skills as possible so no one can ever question your competence, but start with one first. Choose a skill you want to learn or improve on and work towards a significant level of mastery before expanding your scope.

We all possess different learning capacities and all skills aren’t equal in terms of effort or anything really. You may be someone who can take up multiple tasks and perform well. Maybe the skills you chose aren’t complex so you’re focusing on two or three. I recommend starting with one, but you can act according to your abilities or schedule.

Parting words

It’s never too late or early to learn a new skill or improve an existing one. Choose a skill relevant to your interests, work or life in general and be intentional about making progress. Happy learning!