15 Life Skills To Master Before 40

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As you approach 40, you need to master some specific life skills to optimize your chances of enjoying your sunset years. This article shares 15 of those essential life skills.

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in this article:

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  1. What Are Life Skills?
  2. Important Life Skills for Personal Success and Happiness
  3. Important Life Skills for Health
  4. Important Life Skills for Relationships
  5. Important Life Skills for Career
  6. Important Life Skills for Money Management

Life Skills: 15 Essential Skills to Master Before Turning 40

What Are Life Skills?

When it comes to personal success and development, life skills refer to skills needed to manage and successfully overcome life’s challenges. If you’re turning 40, or have already reached that point, these are the five important areas of your life that require specific life skills:

  1. Personal Success and Happiness
  2. Health
  3. Relationships
  4. Career
  5. Personal Finances

Important Life Skills for Personal Success and Happiness

1. Knowing What’s Important to You

You can’t be successful without knowing what really matters to you.

You won’t be able to objectively determine if you’re successful if you don’t have a clear goal in mind. It’s like running on a treadmill, with all your time and effort getting you nowhere.

Knowing what’s important to you can help you improve your decision-making skills because knowing it limits your choices by weeding out those that aren’t aligned with your values.

And with fewer choices come improved decision-making skills. This allows you to focus on challenges concerning those that are most important to you.

2. Being Content

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This is one of the most essential life skills you need to have, regardless of your age. As cliché, as it sounds, being happy, isn’t about having what you want but wanting what you have.

If your happiness is based on getting what you don’t have yet, you’ll be chasing after moving targets. You’ll always want something more after you get what you want and you’ll never be truly happy.

3. Self-Forgiveness

If you can forgive others, why not do the same for yourself? If you love or treat others the way you do yourself, why not love yourself as you love others, too?

Life is too short for unnecessary regrets and self-condemnation, both of which can hold you back from living a full life. You can’t move on from past failures and shortcomings if you don’t learn to forgive yourself, too.

4. Resiliency

Nobody’s perfect and even the world’s most successful people have failed at some point in their lives. What allowed them to eventually succeed in life is resiliency, which is the ability to recover from failures.

After every failure, you only have two choices: stay down or get back up and do things differently. Learning to be resilient in the face of any challenge helps you succeed later in life.

5. Time Management

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Learn to manage your time wisely.

Everybody has the same number of hours every day. The difference between happy and successful people isn’t the number of hours but how they spend their hours.

Effective time management is all about the things you focus most of your time on. If you have too many things on your plate, you can’t focus on the things that really matter to you.

If you want to learn effective time management, use the Pareto Principle, which advises that you focus on the 20% that produces 80% of your desired results.

6. Decluttering

A cluttered home or office can make it hard to focus and make decisions. It can also slow down everything you do since you have to constantly look for the things you need.

For some artists or other creatives, clutter can help unleash creativity. If this is the case, it’s still ideal to limit your clutter zone to your place of work only and keep your personal spaces, like your home, clutter-free.

Important Life Skills for Health

7. Stress Management

Stress is one of the world’s top silent killers today. If you want to make it way past 40, you need to get your stress under control.

If you learn to control your anger well, you can control a big chunk of your stress, too. There are many ways to learn effective anger management, with some of the best DIY options being meditation and self-hypnosis.

For general stress management, meditation, regular exercise, and massages are some of the best things you can get into.

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8. Make Regular Exercise Fun or Interesting

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Have a gym partner to make the trips to the gym fun and exciting.

Numerous studies have validated the benefits of regular exercise. In particular, strength-training exercises help prevent sarcopenia in old age and cardio exercises help keep the heart and lungs strong.

But why do many people refuse to learn and use this essential life skill?

Lack of self-discipline is the main reason for this, primarily because it’s hard to continuously do something you don’t like. That’s why making regular exercise fun and interesting is key to making it a part of your life.

Important Life Skills for Relationships

9. Establishing New Friendships

The ability to establish new friendships is one of the most important social skills you need to learn. Friendships help make life beautiful, and a lonely life is not a beautiful one.

Remember, no man or woman’s an island, and that includes you, so push yourself to be more social. You can learn many friend-winning techniques from Dale Carnegie’s classic bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People.

One of the simplest ways to establish new friendships is going to where people usually converge.

Being surrounded by people automatically increases your chances of meeting new friends. They’re also great situations to practice the interpersonal skills you learn in Carnegie’s book.

10. Spending Quality Time with Your Loved Ones

The Harvard Study of Adult Development says that good interpersonal relationships can make you both happier and healthier. Your relationships won’t flourish if you don’t spend enough quality time with the people important to you, whether it’s your spouse, children, parents, and friends.

And when you’re approaching 40, quality starts trumping quantity. Hence, learn to spend quality time with those who are really important to you for a happier and healthier you.

Important Life Skills for Career

11. Finding Your Career Zone

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To find the right career for you, do not be afraid to explore.

The more time you spend doing something, the greater your chances of succeeding in it. But, if you’re still finding your career sweet spot as you approach 40, those chances are getting slimmer.

That’s why before turning 40, take the time and effort to really discover your career zone. Most likely, it’ll be something you love doing, you’re very good at, and has great market demand.

12. Saying “No”

Warren Buffet is possibly the greatest investor the world has ever seen. And, in his words, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Why’s that? If you always say “yes” to everybody and every opportunity that comes your way, you can’t focus on what’s important.

This doesn’t mean you should start saying “no” all the time, even to your boss.

What this means is your default mode is “no,” especially to things that take you further away from your goals. People or opportunities should only convince you to say “yes” if they can prove they deserve your “yes.”

13. Marketing Yourself Effectively

Remember that your career zone has three vital components: something you’re skilled at, you love it, and it has great market demand. If you want to be in demand in what you do, you must learn the art of marketing yourself effectively.

In fact, this may be the most important component of a successful career. If you’re not able to clearly communicate how good you are to the people that matter, there’ll be little or no demand for your skills.

One of the most important skills you need to learn to market yourself effectively is making sales pitches. You have to develop the skill of selling yourself to others in a short period of time.

14. Negotiating

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Learn the art of negotiation.

You’ll hardly be able to get what you want from other people on a silver platter. Everybody’s looking out for their own interests, including yourself, which means you need to convince them it’s in their best interests to do what you want them to do.

The keys to successfully negotiating what you want are:

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  • Understanding what others want
  • Knowing the least you’re willing to get in return
  • Compromising without sacrificing your most important goals.

Another thing to remember — you can’t negotiate unless you know the party you’re negotiating with very well. You need to find out what they really want or need.

So, know what the other party wants, what you really want, and be willing to meet in the middle.

Important Life Skills for Money Management

15. Saving and Investing

When you turn 40, practically half of your income-generating years have already passed by. This means retirement will soon be just around the corner.

If you don’t learn how to save by 40, your chances of having enough funds for retirement become slimmer. The later you try to save for retirement, the greater your financial burdens will be.

Thus, the best time to save is now.

However, saving money isn’t enough for one reason: inflation, which refers to the rate at which the general costs of living increase yearly. This is where investing comes in.

Investing helps the money you save grow at a faster rate than inflation. In the process, you can increase your money’s purchasing power over time and ensure your retirement needs are met.

These 15 life skills can spell the difference between a worry-free retirement and a potentially stressful or delayed one. Start incorporating these habits into your life and watch it become one percent better every day.

Are there any other essential skills people should learn before hitting 40 to add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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