This might seem strange that your skills would have anything to do with your well-being, but hang in here with me. It's important for several reasons.
Learning and practicing skills adds excitement to your life. When you're excited, you automatically have more energy without changing anything else. Your life satisfaction will increase when you're actively involved in learning and looking towards your future.
Do you remember when you were a teenager or young adult and people were always asking you about what your plans were and the future seemed exciting and limitless?
Why shouldn't it be the same now, no matter what your age?
Not only that, adding new skills or practices into your life works your brain muscle! Did you know that the more educated you are, the more information your brain stores, and the better it accesses what it's learned. In fact, the build up of information results in what neuroscientists refer to as "cognitive reserve," meaning that added connections and pathways between neurons give a boost to the brain which can counteract dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease.
Step 1: Determine your primary field of interest.
Last week I wrote about clarifying who you want your future self to be and how that future self interacts with the people in your life. This week, we'll delve further into how to bring your future self into being.
When is the last time you really thought about either what you're really interested in or what you're passionate about? It's so easy to continue on with something you were interested in or passionate about during a prior stage of life. Don't worry about being flaky, if it's time to move on, then do it.
When you think of your future best self, what are interests that you're most passionate about developing?
Step 2: Connect or reconnect with your passion.
When you aren't developing new skills related to your passions, it's easy to live a life where you're just going through the motions. Life can feel flat. Life satisfaction is an important factor in your state of well-being.
When my children were small, I was lucky to be able to choose to be home with them. And, I really did enjoy it. But, I also needed something else to stimulate my brain. Acknowledging and acting on it made me a better mom!
I took one training to become a childbirth educator and another to become a volunteer breastfeeding support person with La Leche League. Both of these were doable with young children and kept my brain active in a focused way. They were also a social outlet as my community of friends changed when I had children.
As my kids got older, my interests changed. At some point it was time for me to move on from the birth and breastfeeding work. I won't say that it was easy or that I was indecisive in the middle of it all, but I'm in a different phase of life now. I still have kids at home for a bit longer, but they don't require the same intense energy that they did when they were little (mostly).
I'm sure I'll go through another transition in six or seven years as both are away at college. While I don't anticipate a career change, I'm sure I'll have more space for a serious hobby, or travel, or something.
Step 3: Decide what skills or practices you need to develop.
The next step is to decide what skills or knowledge you need to acquire to fully step into your future self. Clarity comes into the picture, because the most successful people tend to be focused rather than general in their learning.
Just like I wrote about in setting goals, specificity is important. If it's the skill is too vague, you'll easily lose interest because it's so hard to measure your accomplishment.
For example, if you want to take classes, you could say that each quarter you will take one class. Or if you've decided to take up classical violin, you can say that you will take a lesson once a week and practice for thirty minutes four mornings a week. See how specific that is? You'll either accomplish it or not. If you don't practice the first two mornings of the week, you'll know that you have to the following five mornings.
Step 4: Put it into practice. Set up a structure to develop the skills related to your passion.
Grab a notebook and journal on these three exercises:
What is your primary field of interest or passion in life? Do you regularly engage in building the skills necessary to create success? How does that make you feel?
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Hi, I’m Crystal!