How to Choose What Skills to Learn

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Did you ever get asked this growing up as a kid? Maybe you were fortunate enough not to hear it until high school graduation. It often precedes further questions asking if you have already picked out a school and major to pursue. From such a young age, we are increasingly pressured to narrow our focus instead of being able to explore our options.

How To Pick A Skill To Develop

Take out a sheet of paper or open a word doc and write at the top:

Here is an example of my list. Excuse my handwriting; I had too much caffeine when I wrote this down.
  • Whose lifestyle do you wish to mimic?
  • What did you love doing when you were a kid?
  • What problems need solving in the marketplace?
  • Which skills excite you the most to learn?
  • Which skills could you teach yourself?

How To Develop Your Skills

  • Ask for consistent feedback from those who are more advanced than you in the skill you are learning. You will develop at a quicker rate, which will encourage you to keep improving.
  • Apply what you are learning to a project you find enjoyable. For example, if you are learning how to write, then create a blog and share your work. If you are learning how to code, create a Github account, and share your code.

Should You Specialize Or Be A Generalist?

Once you have reached competency in your skill development journey, you have a choice to make. Should you continue to hone the skill for years to come to attain mastery, or should you begin developing the other skills on your list to become more of a generalist?

Start Today

I have given you the framework for building the future you want. Now all you have to do is spend a minimum of 20 minutes going through the exercise yourself. Pick one skill to be your sole focus for the next couple of months. If you discover after a month of learning that you don’t like the skill you chose, drop it, and start learning the next one on your list. There is no shame in quitting what you don’t enjoy and trying again.

Engineer & Writer | Writing about the best books, tools for thought, and systems for maximizing creativity at

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