Essential Life Skills to Hack for Unlocking Your Career Future

Picture of Essential Life Skills to Hack for Unlocking Your Career Future
Photo: jarmoluk
By Cynthia Dalton
The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. — John Dewey

How to Unlock Your Future Career Advantage: Avoid Getting Rusty and Upgrade Yourself!

If you get complacent, you may get left behind. Complacency can take many forms, from your mind, body, work, and friends, to your knowledge. To unlock your future career potential, we have put together a total body, mind, soul, and skill upgrade list to help you to life hack yourself into a successful career.

In the Future Job Market Who Will Get Left Behind?

There was a time when people expected to work for the same company until they retired. Today, not only do people routinely work past retirement age, they often move from company to company, and from one profession to another. This is because we live in a technology-driven environment that rapidly changes. Change is what we can count on. We can either embrace change or be left behind. The skills people gain become obsolete when they don’t anticipate and plan for change.

Why You Should Continuously Upgrade Your Skills

The key to future-proofing yourself is to continuously upgrade your skills. It’s easier and more rewarding to be prepared by upgrading your skills on an ongoing basis rather than finding yourself in some future context with a sudden need to learn too many different and new skills, all at once. The future belongs to those who are prepared in mind, body, and spirit.

Upgrading Your Skills

Here are some tips for being prepared in mind, body, and spirit:

Renew your vow to get and/or stay healthy.

Build into your schedule plenty of time to enjoy physical activities you really like, such as bicycling or dancing. Try new foods that are delicious and healthful — can anyone say “power bowl”? Especially as we get older, we can’t ignore the importance of having a strong, healthy body — you might say good health is the foundation for all else we do.

Be diligent about your emotional health.

Don’t be all work and no play. Enjoy a good laugh. Enjoy time spent with family and friends. Actively pursue that which is spiritually rewarding to you. Practice being in the moment no matter what you are doing and no matter who you are with. Savor the special times and when you’re feeling blue, get yourself into a better mood by remembering all the things for which you are grateful or by remembering in detail (e. g. sight, taste, and smell) a cherished memory of a great moment in your life.

Leave your comfort zone.

Challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone (take a new way home, take a dance class, or earn a certificate in a subject you always wanted to know more about) and you build into yourself a natural ability to embrace change as something rewarding. Being able to embrace change is a crucial skill for facing the future well equipped.

Conquer mathematics.

In a world that increasingly wants the “metrics” and the “stats”, avoiding math is no longer an option. If you’re math-phobic, take the bull by the horn and take a class in practical math skills.

Embrace new technology.

As new programs, apps, and devices hit the market, read up on them and be the first one at work to embrace new training.

Learn the cultural customs of others.

In an increasingly global economy, you’ll be ahead of the curve if you learn about cultural differences. If you are privileged to know people from other cultures, ask them about proper etiquette in their culture. Other sources for information on cultural differences include the internet and books.

Learn Spanish.

Again, you’ll be ahead of the curve if you learn Spanish — Latin American countries are important trading partners. Also, in general, the ability to speak Spanish greatly enhances your résumé.

Take on Assignments.

Take on additional assignments at work. This experience will allow you to cultivate your creative abilities as well as your problem-solving abilities — two more crucial skills needed heading into the future job market.


Create a safety net for yourself by developing contacts that are mutually rewarding and lifelong. One good way to begin this process is by staying in touch with coworkers through social media and another good way to do this is by collaborating on assignments at work with a coworker or coworkers. This becomes a constant source of new ideas and inspiration as well. Additionally, people-skills will be more important than ever in the future as people look to connect with people who communicate with them on a human level.

Skills You Need to Stay Relevant

Writing for, Emma Alex shares additional skills needed for future-proofing your career in her article Jobs of the Future: Skills You Need to Stay Relevant, among them:

  • Trendspotting. Ms. Alex writes, “This one seems easy, but then again, it can be much more difficult than you think. In a nutshell, spot the trends around you. Stay abreast of developments in your industry, in your function, in the news, and even in your hobby. Participate in trade events, involve yourself in group discussions, follow thought leaders and take new classes.”
  • Initiative and Self-Direction. Ms. Alex writes, “The ability to take initiative is what separates followers from leaders. Leaders, in time, gain the flexibility and adaptability for taking the initiative. Followers, on the other hand, lack the ability to direct themselves and shy away from taking on the responsibility that comes with initiative. Adapt, adapt and adapt – and then lead others.”
  • Building Your Personal Brand. Ms. Alex writes, “You’re not always going to be an employee, are you? If you can develop all of the above-listed aptitudes, you’ll surely have the capability to lead a company as an employer. So, if you don’t want to have an empty plate in front of you in the future, be sure to serve yourself now. Observe, notice, and learn all that you can. Spot the trends. Move with the times, not behind them.”
  • Develop Emotional Intelligence. Ms. Alex writes, “This may sound a bit trite, but that one thing that artificial intelligence will have a difficult time with is establishing relationships. Develop empathy, vulnerability and emotional intelligence along your journey. This is machine learning, but it’s your brain that’s learning, not some piece of metal clicking away on your desk. Build strong connections, establish bonds with your clients and co-workers. Create your own powerful network.”
  • Stay in Touch with Younger Minds. Ms. Alex writes, “This has got to be the best and most effective tip of all. If you want to keep yourself fresh and contemporary feed your mind with the best technological news by befriending young minds. Every generation that comes along knows more than the one before it – at least when it comes to technology. Stay in touch with them, learn new things and develop a creative and innovative mind and soul.”

More Skills to Help You Thrive

In his article for, The Most Important Skills You Need to Thrive, Work Better, Smarter, and Efficiently in the Future, Thomas Oppong offers some additional skills for future-proofing your career, including:

  • The ability to create. Mr. Oppong writes, “The human ability to create cannot be toppled by just any machine. People who can look at internal business problems from a different perspective often end up solving them in completely unexpected, often elegant ways. They are the ones others look to for creative plans and strategies in any business...The truth is, a lot of people spend their work life executing on people's plans instead of creating or taking initiatives. If you do more than just follow instructions at work, it will be very difficult for your employer to let you go for an intelligent machine. Creative thinkers will always be innovative and inventive. They always look for new ways of doing things that add value, create new opportunities or move the company in a new direction. You can start developing your creative skills by investing in courses that broaden your perspective.”
  • Agility. Mr. Oppong writes, "The explosion in connectivity around the world makes the ability to adjust and adapt new processes even more important to employers. Work environments are constantly changing, business processes keep evolving, and companies that can consistently adapt without necessarily having to change entire processes will win. Every business wants people who are capable of making adjustments where necessary. Your ability to respond to new situations without having to change overall approach will be a desirable skill for every employer in the near future. Agility allows team members to take advantage of emerging opportunities when it matters. Can you adjust quickly when things are not working as planned?”
  • The ability to work with on site and remote teams. Mr. Oppong writes, "For many employers, spending every minute working in the office is no longer a necessity. A lot more companies are now embracing remote workers, freelancers and contractors. An intuit study estimates that by 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers — freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. Both large and small businesses are now embracing text, chat, video, file sharing, and screen sharing in addition to email and phone communications to work better. If you are able to learn and use new technologies at a faster rate and communicate better with both on site and remote teams, you will continue to be an invaluable asset to your company."

Armed with these tips, the future looks pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

What do you think?

  • Do you consistently upgrade your skills?
  • Do you agree with the premise that the future belongs to those who are prepared?

What additional ways would you suggest individuals prepare for the future?

Do you have a question, comment or an idea for an article? Email: [email protected]

Leave a comment!

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