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36 Examples of Life Skills

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Life skills are foundational skills that improve an individual's prospects for a happy, productive and fulfilling life. These are all broadly applicable skills that aren't specific to a career, lifestyle or social role such as parenting. The following are illustrative examples of life skills.

Self Care

The process of self-managing your mental, emotional, and physical health. This includes basic needs such as sleep, healthy food, cleanliness and prevention of disease. For example, a student who goes for a jog each day to improve their physical health and emotional well-being.


Introspection is the ability to understand your own behavior, character and thoughts. For example, the ability to recognize that a negative thought is due to your current mood such that it will pass.


The ability to remain calm and composed such that your emotions and behavior remain in a reasonable range whatever should happen. For example, an individual who is relatively unaffected by the negativity of others such that their mood and behavior can't be easily derailed.


The ability to communicate effectively in your native language. Second languages are also a significant life skill that can open a wide range of opportunities and modes of thinking.


Reading and writing proficiency in your native language.


Understanding and applying basic numerical concepts and operations, particularly addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. More advanced mathematics such as a solid understanding of statistics is also an advantage in life.

Computer Literacy

The ability to be productive with computerized devices. This has become a life skill as computers such as smart phones are a pervasive aspect of modern life.


As change is constant and often beneficial, it is a skill to be able to respond to change in an effective way or perhaps lead change. For example, a mid-career professional who recognizes declining demand for their skills and moves to acquire new skills to stay relevant to their employer and industry.


The ability to listen and to express yourself with words and visual communication.

Interpersonal Skills

Social skills that allow an individual to participate in social processes such as friendship.


The process of meeting new people.


Influencing the thoughts, emotions, behaviors and decisions of others. For example, the ability to convince an interviewer that you're the best person for a job.

Relationship Building

Relationship building is the process of building social relationships including friendships, family and professional relationships.

Cultural Capital

Cultural capital is the ability to influence within the context of a culture. For example, a New Yorker who has lived in the city for a long time such that they know how to deal with other New Yorkers.


Negotiation is the process of developing agreements with others that have favorable terms. For example, an ability to negotiate with a neighbor who has a complaint to develop a solution that is win-win.

Goal Planning

The ability to identify worthy and achievable goals and to prioritize them.


Developing realistic plans to achieve goals in an environment of competition and constraint. For example, a student who identifies a path of learning and experience that will qualify them for their desired profession.


Identifying and sequencing the actions and resources that are required to execute strategy. For example, a student who identifies an achievable plan to improve their marks to get into a reasonably good university.


The ability to focus on thought processes and work to do things with care. For example, a ticket agent at a train station who listens carefully to customer requests and works to fulfill the requests accurately. Diligence is a basis for productivity.

Time Management

Time management is the process of using time effectively. For example, two students of equal ability where one learns 20 concepts an hour and the other learns 20 concepts in a year due to differences in study habits.


Discovering and validating information including the validity of sources.

Decision Making

The ability to make reasonable decisions in a timely manner.

Problem Solving

Solving problems in an effective and efficient way. For example, a talent for identifying the root cause of problems.


Analysis is an ability to break information into its component parts in order to understand it better. For example, taking a machine apart to try to understand why it is malfunctioning.

Critical Thinking

The ability to develop a reasonable and informed opinion and defend it. For example, the ability to explain in a convincing way why you think a film was brilliant or flawed.

Design Thinking

The process of solving problems with design. For example, a student who designs a useful system for memorizing vocabulary in a second language using mnemonics.

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking is the process of considering the broad end-to-end impact of things. For example, considering the unintended consequences of actions.

Risk Taking

The process of taking calculated risks is a basic requirement for doing anything in life.

Risk Management

Risk management is the process of due diligence and control that ensures that risk taking is likely to be advantageous. For example, a skier who identifies common dangers of the sport and takes reasonable steps to stay safe.


Your drive to do things in a directed way towards goals.


The habit of finding your own path without anyone providing instructions or feedback. For example, an employee who feels confident to solve problems that are beyond the scope of policy, process, procedure and training.


The ability to develop non-obvious value. For example, an artist who leaps ahead of their peers to develop their own style without relying on emulating others.


The habit of identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to self-improve on a continual basis. For example, an individual who thinks about the failures of each day to visualize how things could have been handled better.


A talent for understanding how others are feeling to act in some appropriate way. For example, recognizing when a family member is experiencing negative emotions to help them or give them space. A basic interpersonal skill.


The ability to share emotion with others. For example, the ability to be genuinely happy to see another person succeed at something. A basic building block of healthy relationships.

Personal Resilience

Personal resilience is the ability to handle stress without derailing your well-being and productivity. For example, handling criticism at work without loss of enthusiasm and confidence.


Life skills are the foundational capacities and talents that allow individuals to thrive in personal, social and professional pursuits.


Some of the items above are arguably personality traits as opposed to skills. For example, motivation may be considered an element of character. However, individuals may also cultivate a skill to generate motivation in themselves.
Overview: Life Skills
Foundational skills that improve an individual's prospects for a happy, productive and fulfilling life.
Related Concepts
Next: Life Challenges
More about personal development:
Character Building
Character Strengths
Comfort Zone
Digital Minimalism
False Hope
Financial Literacy
Future Goals
Good Habits
Individual Capital
Life Change
Life Decision
Life Design
Life Goals
Life Ideas
Life Satisfaction
Life Skills
Needs & Wants
Negative Emotions
Perfect Imperfection
Personal Brand
Personal Decisions
Personal Growth
Personal Interests
Personal Networking
Personal Organization
Personal Philosophy
Personal Plan
Personal Planning
Personal Qualities
Personal Standards
Personal Strengths
Personal Swot
Personality Traits
Positive Expectations
Positive Thinking
Process Goals
Self Criticism
Toxic Positivity
More ...
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