A safe investment for uncertain times (1/3) : Knowledge and Skills

This is the first of three posts on ways to invest in yourself during these difficult and uncertain times. The list is short and sweet:

  1. Invest in your knowledge and skills.
  2. Invest in your health and well-being.
  3. Invest in your family and friends.

These are not listed in order of importance, only in the order that the posts will appear. I don’t know which of these will be most important for you (or which has been most neglected), but I believe that all three are more important than anything else that could be added to the list. For that reason, I strongly recommend you invest some time and energy into all three whenever you can, and be sure that these three areas are taken care of before stretching your resources in any other direction.

For this post we’ll focus on the first item on the list:

Invest in your knowledge and skills.

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Benjamin Franklin

If you’re work has been affected by the health crisis, and you’ve found yourself with some extra time in your day as a result, consider ways you could be investing this time to develop new skills or brush up on existing ones. Whether your main objective is to be more competitive in your existing role, explore new work opportunities, or just for personal enjoyment, time spent acquiring knowledge and skills is never wasted.

One of the first and most obvious reasons people reach for new skills – especially when they’re out of work – is to gain an advantage in the workplace. It’s definitely not a bad place to start. As you are probably aware, when this global health crisis blows over, we’ll likely be trading it for a global economic crisis. That’s the bad news. The good news is, you know it’s coming. That means you can start today to develop whatever skills you need to be maximally competitive in your field. The more value you bring to the table, the better for you.

Given the shifts taking place in the way people are doing business right now, you may want to consider not just skills related to the services you can provide, but also skills related to the ways that you provide those services.

Is it possible for you to provide services remotely? Would you know where to start? If you haven’t started yet, now is the perfect time to look into alternative ways of doing business, and brainstorm new types of services you can offer given the current environment. In particular, you may want to look at familiarizing yourself with the latest tools and techniques available for providing services remotely. These skills are becoming more valuable by the day.

While it’s true that some jobs are more naturally suited to remote work than others, it’s amazing the kind of creative solutions you can come up when your back is really against the wall. Even industries that rely heavily on personal interaction, even close contact (e.g. personal trainers), are finding new ways to bring value to their customers remotely.

But what if you don’t even like your job? Well, having a forced reset may be just what you needed to launch yourself in a new direction. If you’re going to be spending time investing in knowledge and skills anyways, invest in skills you’d like to use. They don’t need to be related to the field you used to work in. What about the field you’ve always wanted to work in? Whichever direction you want to move your career, adding more knowledge and skills will be vital to your success.

However, advancing your career isn’t the only reason to learn new things. You can also work on skills just for the hell of it! Having a hobby you can escape to is a great way to relieve some stress – and let’s face it, we’re all looking for ways to decompress and stay sane right now.

Got an instrument collecting dust in the house? Pick it up! Want to learn a new language just because you like the sound of it? Go for it! Same goes for any other hobby or activity you’ve set aside for lack of time. You’ve got the time now, so invest it in something that makes you happy. You’ll be healthier for it

If you’ve been stressed about the current isolation measures and the ways they are affecting your life, try to focus as much as you can on the positive ways you’re able to invest this time. I’m not suggesting you simply “look at the bright side”, and neither am I trying to downplay the severity of your situation, as some people have certainly been hit worse than others.

What I am saying is that there is little you can do to change the situation in the outside world, but there may still be a lot you can do to change your personal situation for the better. This storm will pass when it passes. In the meantime, you can choose to wait impatiently or to work productively. I know which one I’m choosing.

In times of crisis and change there are always opportunities to be found. Having extra time on your hands is not necessarily a bad thing. It could well be the best thing to ever happen to you – if you choose to spend it wisely, that is. Invest in knowledge and skills and you won’t regret it.

The next post will focus on ways to invest in your health and well-being.

Until then, happy learning!

// Have you been using this time to learn something new? Please share in the comments – you may inspire someone else to follow your lead!

One thought on “A safe investment for uncertain times (1/3) : Knowledge and Skills

  1. I’ll start the comments off by sharing some of the ways I’ve been using this time to work on new skills.

    One big time investment for me has been learning how to work online, and getting used to actually doing it. I’ve been getting more familiar with what tools are out there (like Zoom, and Google’s shared files), and spending time using them with the circus students I coach. Now after a few weeks, I’m much more comfortable with running distance classes and already finding better ways to deliver useful lessons even though we can’t train together in the same space. Even when things return to normal and I’m able to coach in the physical space again, I will likely still use these tools for assigning complimentary work, or possibly in other business ventures outside of coaching in the future.

    I’ve also been working to polish my Spanish to a more professional level. This was originally intended as more of a personal skill than a work-related one, but the more time I spend with it (and teaching it to my daughter), the more I’m thinking of developing a language learning tool for kids. This is a good example of how as you gain skill in an area, you also tend to naturally find more and more ways to employ that skill. I’m not sure how far this idea will go, but I believe it has potential. We’ll see.

    Finally, I’ve been using this time to reconnect with an old hobby of mine – music. Over the last month I’ve been averaging about an hour a day on the piano, an instrument I had hardly touched in years. It’s been a perfect outlet for me to blow off steam at the end of the day. I might not continue to play as much as this when things get busy again, but I’m sure I’ll still play more than I had been for years, having rediscovered the joy I get from it. That was a very happy rediscovery.

    I hope you find similar ways to use your time in ways that make you happy and bring you closer to your goals, whatever they are!

    All the best!

    Like

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