The Life Skills that REALLY Matter

or Why School Was Not A Waste of Time

I used to resent my mum for not teaching me about what I considered ‘adult stuff’ like how to fill in a cheque or how to buy insurance.

However, I’ve come to realise (with a few explanations from mum) that I have picked up and am still picking up many life skills that are just as important for adulthood.


Don’t get me wrong, knowing bank stuff and understanding interest rates, investments, etc are important but you can pick up a lot of skills at home and at school without noticing.

Planning and Preparing Well

After burning the rice again, mum gave me some advice that I thought was really valuable and worth sharing.

If you know somewhere in the back of your mind that something might go wrong, do everything reasonable to prevent it.  Even if there’s a 1% chance of something going wrong, put 100% effort into making sure it doesn’t happen.  In my case of burning the rice, set a timer, leave my distracting phone upstairs or do something like exercise that doesn’t take attention away from cooking.


Prepare in Good Time

I make sure to pack my bags the night before and organise my time so that my priorities wouldn’t clash – if they did, I made sure to let people know in plenty of time.

This principle applies to practical things too – if something’s in your way, move it before you start.  Gather your resources before you head off.  Don’t dive in and do something if there are obstacles you can clear before, or if you’re not as prepared as you can be.


Sometimes, however, you can only be so prepared before you’re just procrastinating doing something.  Follow your gut, and just go for it!

Thorough and Thought-through

Make sure you have a Plan B.

Run it past trusted others so you get another perspective on it.  This helps spot problems early and quickly.

Respecting Others

Treat others the way THEY would like to be treated.

Be Generous to Others

We know that we are privileged and that is why charity is important – to help those less fortunate.  As well as giving our money, effort and time, however, there is another form of charity that we all need to give and receive from time to time.

This is emotional charity.


We need to be willing to forgive others, especially our close ones, for hurting us.  Be generous in your interpretation of their actions – if they shout, it could be because they’re scared rather than irritated.  If they say something mean, it could be their insecurities showing.

Being generous in interpretation is one way of helping others.  Being curious is another.  Being curious is the opposite of being judgemental – you’re genuinely interested in finding out more about the other person.

Practice these two principles and your relationships will really benefit.


(Sadly) a lot of life requires working with others.  There are three different ways you could go about doing this (according to Sean Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens – affiliate link):

  1. Compromise
  2. Cooperation
  3. Synergy

Compromise is where you try to do something that none of you totally believe in, so you do things half-heartedly because you each gave something up so the team can work together.  Essentially, 1+1=1.5.  That is what happened all the time in my middle school projects, where I would be the one doing all the work and certain others would just write our names in the corner of the poster.

Cooperation is where you work together but don’t make the most of each other’s strengths or cover each others’ weaknesses.  This is where 1+1=2.


Synergy, a really awful buzzword but sums it up nicely, is where you work together and make the most of each other’s strengths and build upon each other’s work.  This requires a lot of trust and commitment but can produce far better results than each of you working individually.  This is 1+1=3!

Formal Situations

From writing emails and letters, and doing presentations, you should know how to conduct yourself in a more formal situation, for example in a workplace.


Schools should teach this, but unfortunately, a lot of us still come out with no idea what a ‘business casual’ dress code means…

Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously

A good self-depreciating joke will get you places.


You have to find a balance between egotism and low self-esteem – the ideal place to be is where you have bags of confidence but you’re willing (and able) to take the mickey out of yourself once in a while.

At least, this quality was one that I noticed in all the people I liked to hang out with and all the people I aspired to be.

Hard Work

We know that hard work will take you where you want to go, whether or not we actually put any in at school…


Even though we might not remember Ohm’s law or Euler’s formula, our school years gave us all of these skills that cannot be taken away from us.

They weren’t a waste after all!


27 thoughts on “The Life Skills that REALLY Matter

  1. Keep those family recipes. Ask your grandparents while they’re still alive to write your favorites. These are family treasures. Our families can disappear so quietly and simply if we forget our elders

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I definitely was one of those people who just didn’t get why we learnt so many ‘useless’ things in school – but I’m glad that we recognise that discipline is the essential part of growing up!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m still in school, and while I was reading this post I remembered some of my lesson. I guess now that I think about it, the teachers teach us a certain way for a reason. This really helped me put things into perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

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