While a great education can help set you up on a trajectory for success after graduation, some of the most important skills you’ll learn in life are rarely taught in the classroom.

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It probably doesn’t come as a shock that less than 10% of people follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions; keeping the promises we make to ourselves and others is tough!

We are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so when things don’t seem to go our way, we tend to freeze up or drop projects halfway through completion. In comes perseverance, so we can teach ourselves to power through tough times and get that amazing feeling of accomplishment at the end.

Learn it: The next time you feel like giving up on a project, do this instead: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine how great you’ll feel when you finish the project. Because our subconscious minds are often unable to tell the difference between real and imagined, visualizing the final result can help us stay focused on completing it.

Empathy is one of the most valuable traits we can have as humans. So why do so many people still not understand the difference between empathy and sympathy?

Learning how to empathize with others is a crucial step in understanding each other’s hopes and needs. As a creator, this is a fast track to figuring out how to connect with your audience.

Learn it: Make a point to pay attention to the micro-expressions of the next person you have a conversation with–they provide invaluable clues into how that person really feels! When you focus on others’ emotions, you’ll also find yourself becoming a better listener; and who doesn’t want a friend who’s a good listener?


Finance management
Knowing how to manage our money is one of the most important parts of being an adult, but very rarely are we ever taught this in school. From taxes to paying off debt, taking out loans to budgeting for a vacation, we’re often left to figure out how everything works on our own.

With everything from commissioning pieces of your work to hiring staff to help you run your business, managing finances as a creator can be tricky. But knowing how to handle your money can pay off big time in the long-run (pun intended).

Learn it: Connect all of your bank/credit card accounts and bills to a site like Mint, which will help you monitor where you could make improvements on your finances and send you alerts when you have a bill coming up.


Work-life balance
The line between work and play is often incredibly blurry. Balancing work with everything else in life can be extremely difficult; but with the right distribution, the proper balancing act will help us avoid that crippling feeling of burnout.

The idea of taking time away from work to play might seem counterintuitive to some of us who were taught that the only way to be successful in life is to work our asses off, but research has shown that taking a break from work will actually help us be more productive when we return to the daily grind.

Learn it: Use a site like RescueTime to help track where you’re spending your time. If you notice that you’re spending too much time in one area, consider refocusing some of your time on other things.

Gratitude may be the most valuable skill on this list and not just because being grateful can help us improve more than a couple of the other skills on this list (see: empathy, self-love, perseverance).

Studies have shown that spending as little as a minute each morning reflecting on what we’re thankful for or showing thanks to others more often can have tremendous results on our overall health. 

Learn it: Each night before you go to bed, write down three things about your day that you’re grateful for. If you realize anyone helped make your day awesome, tell them!

How to build a website
Whatever type of content you produce, chances are you have a website where anyone interested in your work can go to learn more about you.

Hiring a web developer can be costly, though, so more and more people are turning to building their own sites. Platforms like Squarespace and Wix make it easy for even the least tech-savvy of us to create our own online hubs, but learning how to weave your work into an easy-to-navigate site can sometimes take a bit of skill that you might not have been taught at a young age.

Learn it: Consider taking an online course like this one, where you’ll learn the building blocks for creating custom websites.

We all make mistakes. Whether it’s an honest miscalculation of the change we receive at the checkout counter or an unspeakable act we perform out of a feeling of contempt, we fail and we fail often.

There is no way to go back in time and undo our mistakes, but we can choose to recognize and learn from them. This is where humility comes into play.

Learn it: Next time you realize you make a mistake, own up to it. The key ingredients to a good apology are 1) expressing remorse, 2) owning up to your mistake and 3) offering a solution. Even worse than not apologizing is giving a phony apology, so make sure to really think about how you might have negatively affected someone before saying sorry.

Time management
We live in an age of distraction, where everyone from advertising agencies to our gossip-fueled coworkers wants our attention. We’re becoming pros at multi-tasking, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing when we have important work to get done.

Knowing how to utilize the time that we have for maximum productivity is all thanks to a little skill called time management.

Learn it: Use Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix to prioritize everything on your to-do list. We often find ourselves completing urgent tasks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are important. Focus on doing the most important work each day and you’ll find yourself getting a lot more done than you originally thought possible.

As creators, we are often faced with tough criticism. Most of that criticism, however, comes from ourselves. We second guess our work and let our perfectionism get in the way of our ability to get things done.

Building confidence in ourselves can be a lifelong journey, but with a little self-love, we can become better at handling the great levels of stress and anxiety we face each day.

Learn it: Come up with a personal mantra or affirmation to recite to yourself in the mirror each morning. With some time, you will eventually start to embody the traits you had only wished for.

Very rarely are we given exactly what we want; most of the time, we have to ask for (or demand) it. This is especially true for creators who have to price their own work.

If we’re not used to negotiating, it can be wildly scary. We tend to put a lower value on ourselves in fear of rejection. But the only way others can see worth in what we do is if we first value ourselves.

Learn it: Next time you know you’ll be in a position of negotiation, make sure to set a “break-even point” ahead of time. This is the lowest amount you’re willing to settle for. Part of negotiating is knowing when it’s time to walk away.