Building your skills

Building Your Skills is an important element of success.

Whether you are 60 and looking at no financial options for retirement or 27 and ready to switch to a new career, you can always benefit from building your skills.

As you may have heard, we no longer, as a culture, work at one thing for our lifetime. The latest stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics say we are now averaging 11 job changes in our lifetimes!  Employers don’t practice long-term loyalty and consequently, neither do employees. We all need to, like the boy scouts say, “be prepared”.

Scott #1145

Understand that you more than likely won’t stay more than 5 years in that job you worked so hard to land. And if you start your own business, realize your folks won’t stay with you (statistically speaking) for more than 5 years either.

This is the way of the world. I bet you are like me, in that, if big changes are coming, I am so much better handling them if I get some warning

When I don’t, I spend a lot of the initial time just dealing with the change. I can’t seem to move until I get over the shock.

I wrote about this idea more here in my post on adjusting to your body aging.

Being aware that your job might up and leave for Mexico next month is a game changer. Or the work your employer hired you to do could become obsolete due to automation. Perhaps your employer isn’t a very good business person and the company shuts down. All of this can happen and it is better to assume it WILL.

So what do you do? We talked about this more in this post when you suddenly lose your job.

In this post we are talking about facing the reality of today’s world and the ever-changing job market and preparing.

A few things to set in motion ASAP:

  1. Build up an emergency fund. 6 months. Not 3 months like lots of other folks say out there. SIX. Seriously.
  2. Stock up your pantry. Knowing you will be fine without hitting the grocery store is calming. I enjoy reading what the Mormons do for this and also the “preppers”. Losing your job can feel an awful lot like the “end of times”….having a mountain of rice, beans, tomatoes, coconut milk, flour, sugar, salt, pasta, coffee, tea etc. helps my brain. I think, “Well, we won’t starve!”
  3. Build your community. Help others when they are struggling. Your turn could well be next. It doesn’t have to be financial. Lending an ear, practicing compassion, bringing some cookies, having them over to dinner – any of these will help you bond together.
  4. Build up your skills. Love your job today? It might be gone tomorrow. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Learn some new skills that are marketable. More below.
  5. Build up your frugal muscles. Saving $.50 here, $2 there really REALLY does make a difference. Stop buying superfluous things. You can start this step immediately. Do not skip this step!
  6. Develop a side hustle. Driving for Uber, re-selling stuff from yard sale finds, blogging, babysitting, etc. Side Hustle School is one of my favorite resources.

How do you go about building your skills?

1. Free online courses. We are so lucky to live in today’s world with MOOCs. What is a MOOC you ask? Massive open online courses. They. are. Amazing!

MANY MANY MANY of them are free.

My hands-down favorite course (so far) is Learning how to Learn with Barbara Oakley. It is offered for free with Coursera, an excellent MOOC provider.

This is a GREAT springboard for hopping back into learning. Barbara is adorably nerdy and a very good teacher.  

There are quizzes that are more about reminding you of the answers than tricking you. Getting your brain ready to learn will open up all kinds of doors. The First step is a Success!

2. Take Notes. Reading up on courses you’d like, bookmarking web sites with interesting ideas, journaling about your ideal job are not a waste of time, it is truly helpful to make notes. Get some personal clarity on what you like, enjoy. Know yourself better. You have probably changed since you last did any soul searching on career paths, especially if that was back in high school or college. Take a look at who you are now. Then look over those notes often. Look for themes. This is a process and you probably won’t find all the answers in one day. But take the first steps.

A couple of great resources:


Tribe of Mentors

3. Invest in yourself. Yes, there are free classes. But there are also relevant courses out there that do cost money. Start to set a bit aside for development of you. If it was a young person you were advising, wouldn’t you advise them to look into going to school? Why not you? We seem to think only young people pay for classes. I read recently a suggestion to put 10% of your income into investing in yourself. Initially it made me squirm! WHY? Logically it made sense but I started in on: “that money should be earmarked for a new water heater” or something practical like that.  My brain needs a new way of looking at things in this arena. A new water heater is not going to help me in the job market. What could be more practical than investing in myself? A new job or side hustle can help me pay for that hot water heater!

4. Start small. But START and Finish! For example:  Learning to sell your stuff on-line is a skill. You likely will need to spend more than just one afternoon doing it and it probably will require some assistance. Ask for help, start small, and finish what you start. Master it before you move on. Don’t give up either. You may decide online selling isn’t for you. But can you really decide that without truly understanding it? Pick something and give it your all and complete it before you move on. This is more about the skill of building, learning and mastery than finding your life’s calling.

5. Join a community. Maybe it is right here at I Heart Tightwads. Maybe you need face time in a group. Talking with others, sharing our ups and downs, and learning from each other is vital. No person is an island. We need each other. YOU have things to share that others can use. Fear and isolation do not help. If you don’t like the group you have joined, join another. Here are some examples: Senior Centers (mine is for 50+ folks), Senior classes at local college, Meet-ups in your area (got to and put in your area) or start your own Meetup. I am working on starting my own because I haven’t found what I was looking for in my city. I’ll let you know what happens.

6. Keep practicing Frugality. It may seem pointless to save $2 here and $1 there but it really adds up. The better you flex this muscle, the stronger it gets. You can make a huge difference in your finances over time. And you are learning as you go so keep learning!

7. Avoid aging – mentally. I know we have no choice about our physical selves but we do about our minds and to a degree, our brains. Learning keeps our brains active. Learn new things. Find out what those “young people” are talking about and get exposed to it. We have a tendency as we age to think we know it all because we have been through it all. Things are changing – All. The. Time. Get used to it! Learn about it! Don’t get caught up in how it was when you were young. You ain’t young! And just because they are young doesn’t mean they don’t have something to teach you. Make friends with a young person and get them to show you about Snapchat, Instagram, or whatever they’re interested in of late. Being open to knew things will keep you from getting mentally old.

8. Avoid aging – physically. Exercise has a huge impact on your brain’s ability to work well and learn. Seriously, I’m not making this up. Go for a walk. 30 minutes! Sleep is vital to a fresh healthy brain. Lots of water, fruits, veggies, you’ve heard the mantra. It does matter. Maybe you didn’t take good care of yourself in your younger years. You can make an impact today by starting now. You will feel better! Feeling better makes it easier to learn. Learning needs to happen if you are going to improve your skills. Improving your skills makes you more marketable…see what I did there?

9. Learning is fun and interesting. Did you hate school? I certainly hated parts of it. In retrospect, I would have learned a LOT more if I’d been in an all girls school…These days, being around the opposite sex isn’t so…distracting, shall we say….If you didn’t like school back in the day, you might really like it now. Think of all that has changed since you were last in school. You are probably more:

  • patient
  • calm, not trying to get attention or a mess of hormones (although you may be having hot flashes!)
  • fully mentally developed (your growing brain has finished developing, that stops at around 25 years for most people) so some concepts that might have been too much for you to handle (math is one of these some of us just weren’t ready to handle yet development-wise) may now be easier to understand.
  • secure. You probably don’t give a shit what anyone thinks of you, how you dress, what car you drive. If you do, remind yourself it doesn’t matter.

Having a calm patient developed secure brain makes a lot of learning a lot easier.

But I am a slow learner! So? Remember the class I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Learning how to Learn with Barbara Oakley? Well, she addresses slower learners vs. “race car learners” and has a lot of good things to say about those of us who plod along. She says we may learn more slowly but there isn’t a race to get to the end AND we tend to retain more usable knowledge. This is me sticking my tongue out at the boys in 6th grade math class.

Get on board! Let’s build some new skills and jump back on the highway to success.

Do you, like me see the word “highway” and instantly think of AC/DC? You my friend, are awesome!

Comments 7

  • The “Learning How to Learn ” course is excellent!

  • Hi, I just found your blog today, and I am enjoying it! I feel silly asking this, but how can I subscribe? Thank you.

    • Hey Lizzy! Thanks for your kind words. I am glad you are enjoying the blog and glad you are here. As for subscribing, I am new and we can feel silly together cuz I don’t know! I am working on it. Learning curve!

    • Hello Again Lizzy. I figgered it out, how to enable folks subscribe to my blog. I’m better at writing than the technical aspects of blogging but I am learning!
      Here is a link to a page:
      In the lower right corner, you will see a spot that says “subscribe to blog” and asks you to put in your email. Once you confirm that, you will automatically receive future blog posts. Please holla if you have any issues with it. I’m glad you are here!

    • Thank you! Found it and subscribed!

      • Thanks Lizzy! If you are so inclined, tell us a little about yourself and why this blog is something you would subscribe to.

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