The Exceptionally Ordinary Life

Important self care skills everyone should learn

60+ important life skills everyone should learn-Part 5

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In this the 5th and last installment of this series, I’d like to cover some pretty important aspects: those directly related to our personal/self care.

I left this for last not because they are not as important as the others. But because they are THE most important.

See, most of us moms often forget about ourselves. We get so caught up caring for our fmailies, that we don’t even know how to take care of the most important person in our lives: ourselves.

Because of this, all other aspects of our lives suffer. After all, how can you expect your home, finances, work, etc. to go smoothly, if your health is shot? Simple: you can’t. And so, leaning these very important life skills are crucial to our wellbeing, and will surely impact how well you learn AND implement other life skills as well.

(By the way, you can find the links for the rest of this series at the bottom of this post.)

60+ important life skills everyone should learn-Part 5

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Personal/self care

To say no

I daresay, this is probably one of the most difficult ones to learn. We might be exhausted, super busy, or simply not in the mood. But we hate to disappoint others, and so we say yes. Even when that means we are so overbooked, so overcommitted, we barely have any time to just rest and relax.

but it is because it is so difficult to learn to say no, that it is so important that we do. Giving of ourselves to others is great, fantastic really. But if we just give, and give, and give, there’ll be nothing left.

Like most (or all) skills, the only way to learn it is to practice it. Make it a habit to say no at least once or twice per week. If it helps, set yourself a little reminder alarm on your phone, write it on your planner or journal, or even wear a thin string bracelet. You can even consider setting up an accountability partner, someone who understands why you’re doing this, and is willing to be tough. You could plan it so that whenever you’re asked to do something, you need to call this person to discuss.

Whatever you do, know that it could be difficult to unlearn a habit, in this case, the habit of saying yes all the time. But it can be done!

Difference between wants and needs

There is sometimes a fine line between what we want and what we actually need. Truth be told, we need very little. We obviously need food, shelter, love, support, water, bathroom breaks, and rest.

However, we often confuse comfort elements, with needs, when they are actually wants. Do I want to travel to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Well, duh. Do I needed to? Nope. Taking the trip is not crucial to my life in any way. Is it a BIG want? Definitely. But is it worth going into debt with a personal loan or credit cards, or depleting our savings? 100% NO.

Wants are sometimes small things we want at the moment, like a candy bar, or a glass of wine. And sometimes wants are those big desires, and dreams that we crave so much, we almost drool thinking about them.

On the other hand, needs are the things that are essential in our lives. Like food. You definitely need food. But you do not need that fancy steak you love so much. And knowing the difference can really impact several aspects of your life, like your budget.

Making appointments

I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking: that this is not really a life skill, or that it’s so easy to do, it shouldn’t be included in this list. But you might be surprised at how many people get flustered and confused when trying to contact a professional like the Dr.’s office or a specialist.

This is not because they are so dim that they can’t handle simple tasks. It’s simply because in the spirit of simplifying their scheduling process, most places have made it super hard for their customer/patients.

It used to be that you called, got the receptionist (who was, most likely, sitting right there in the office), scheduled the appointment, and voila! You we’re done. Now? Well, there’s the answering service to deal with. And the scheduling service, which is not always the same place/person. Oh, and those people are not necessarily in the Dr.’s or dentists office. For all you know they could be working from their own couch. And that’s OK.

The simplest way to navigate all this is by having all documents that you think you might need on hand (like your insurance card, for example), and taking notes of when you called, who you talked to, and what was said.

To fail

Bet you didn’t see this one coming, huh? Learning to fail is very important for a simple reason: It it’s the only way to cope with the disappointment, sadness, anger, and other emotions that come with it.

We all fail at something, at one point of our lives or another. Accepting this is the first step, of course. If you don’t recognize it and accept it, then when it happens (and it will), you won’t know what to do with yourself. However, if you accept failure as part of life, then you can, not only move on, but also pick yourself up, move forward, improve, and of course, succeed.

Self respect & respect of others

I have often heard ( as I’m sure you have as well) that respect is earned. However, I like to live by the flipped concept that disrespect is earned. With that mindset, I approach others, granting them my respect, unless they do something to earn my disrespect. I feel like that’s a much better, and positive way to treat others.

Self-respect on the other hand, is a given. How can you expect others to respect you if you don’t set the example? Of all human beings, you are the one and only person who’s got a guaranteed place in your life. Why not approach yourself with the respect you deserve at all times?

Basic manners/etiquette

Learning how to conduct yourself in different social situations is, in my opinion, not only good for you, but also a good social life skill to have. While you probably don’t need to know how to behave in the presence of the Queen of England, knowing simple rules can help you fill less anxious in the presence of others.

Here are some very basic manners/etiquette you should know:

  • How and when to use which fork, or spoon
  • Chewing with your mouth closed
  • No hats on while eating dinner
  • No elbows on the table
  • Say excuse me, please and thank you when needed
  • Say hello and goodbye
  • Express interest (listen) in what your interloper is saying
  • Ask to be excused from the dinner table before getting up
  • Gently wipe your mouth after eating
  • Do not make a sound while you eat
  • Cut your meat as you go, not all at once
  • Offer a beverage to your guests
  • Welcome others gracefully to your home, and invite them to sit down
  • Always appreciate any gift given to you
  • Avoid pointing out other people’s flaws
  • Do not gossip

When and how to ask for help

If there’s one thing I always struggle with, it’s asking for help. Not because I think I’m Wonder Woman, but because I don’t want to bother others. that’s why I make it a point to exercise the habit of asking for help, even if it’s with simple things I can handle myself, like making dinner.

By doing this, not only am I working on unlearning the habit. I am also asking nicely, and not when I am at my whit’s end, irritated, and annoyed. This guarantees that I am not in a foul mood, and that I will accept that the help might not be coming much more gracefully.


It probably goes without saying, but practicing self-control will probably save your tons of headaches. Self control is a tool that, when used right, can mean the difference between getting into a huge argument with someone or simply letting it be. Or, between eating a couple of scoops of ice cream, instead of a whole pint.

Forming good habits

Good habits are, at their core, the cornerstone of a good life. Forming good habits starts with recognizing what are good and what are bad habits, making the decision to go for the good, and being intentional about them. Sometimes it requires a lot of self-control to be consistent, but once the good habits become ingrained in your every day life, they are a lot easier to stick to.


Setting boundaries and respecting other people’s boundaries is possibly the most important relationship-saving life skill or tool anyone can have. When the boundaries are set, enforced, and respected, navigating our interactions with others becomes much simpler. That is a proven way to take the strain out of some uncomfortable, every day situations.

Decision making

Our lives are a collection of decisions, even when we are not even aware we are making them. From what to eat, to what to watch, and even what time we’re going to sleep, it’s just one decision after another.

Chances are, most of those simpler, every day decisions happen without the conscious thought of making the decision. However, bigger and more impactful ones could be hard to make, and cause a lot of anxiety.

Whether you make those big decisions on the fly, or take your time to ponder your options, decision making is a life skill that is not only useful, but could even be life-saving in extreme situations.

Organizing paperwork

Listen, I know all about messy paperwork. Growing up, my Mom didn’t really have any system to how she stored important paperwork, which caused us tons of headaches more times than I can count. And the apple did not fall far from the tree.

As an adult, I struggled for years to deal with my family’s paperwork. I’d get into it, organize it well, and within a month it was all a mess again. Truth be told, I was not very intentional about it, and got lazy most of the time. Until I’d had enough.

With a family of five, and one of them having TONS of Social Security disability paperwork AND medical stuff, we were simply drowning in it. And so I decided to take the bull by the horns, and developed a system that works for my family’s needs. So far, the system has worked and we can now find what we need when we need it without too much of a hassle.

How to prioritize

Prioritizing is one of the most powerful tools or life skills you could ever learn. It could make the difference between getting some stuff done, and getting the right stuff done, and on time. How cool is that? I can tell you. It’s pretty cool.

When you learn how to prioritize you basically learn to discern between what goes in which category:

  1. Must do: These are the tasks that you can’t avoid, if you want to accomplish something big. Not because they are urgent necessarily, but because they’ll get you to a specific goal that you have set for yourself.
  2. Should do: In this category you’d include all the things that are indeed important, but not crucial to meeting your goals.
  3. Would like to do: Last but not least, this category groups all the things that you think to yourself “It would be nice, or cool to do this”. Not essential to your goals, but definitely an asset.

Problem solving

Who doesn’t have problems? The answer is simple: we all do. Some are bigger than others, but no one goes thru life without confronting at least one big problem, and oftentimes much more than that. And knowing how to find solutions, and the right solution to boot, can be an immensely useful skills.

Knowing and mastering this life skill does not mean you’ll be a problem-solving wizard. What it means is that you will face the issue at hand, not (only) with stress, fear or anxiety, but with the confidence that you can work thru it, and that there is (almost) always a solution.

Goal setting

Going thru life, and living everyday all willy-nilly is a fine idea. If you’re 15 (maybe). Truth be told, we all need goals, something to motivate us and to look forward to when the going gets tough. And it will.

In reality, we all have dreams, some bigger than others, of course. But dreaming without a plan or without action leads nowhere. By learning how to set attainable goals, creating a plan to accomplish them, and working on it we turn those big dreams into goals that have a hope of becoming a reality.

60+ important life skills everyone should learn-Part 5

For those who got scroll-happy, here is the gist of this post:

In the Personal portion of important life skills everyone should learn I have included the following:

  • To say no
  • To differentiate between wants & needs
  • Making appointments
  • To fail
  • Self-respect and respect of others
  • Basic manners/etiquette
  • When and how to ask for help
  • Self-control
  • Forming good habits
  • Setting boundaries
  • Decision making
  • Organizing paperwork
  • How to prioritize
  • Problem solving
  • Goal setting

Liked this post? Go check out the other 4 parts of this series of posts:

60+ important life skills everyone should learn-Part 5

Important self care skills everyone should learn

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