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The pressure to excel is higher than ever. With the economy, market, and political structures of our society rapidly fluctuating, job prospects are becoming limited and competition is becoming incredibly difficult to maintain.

Parents, mentors, and peers continue to add to the pressure. Parents have always advised on the importance of education, obtaining your first job, and paying off your student loan payments. Mentors serve as direct and indirect pressure forces. Using Venture Capital as an example, mentors may be continually pressuring you to make more progress and/or hire more competent team members.

They can also indirectly pressure you by serving as a benchmark for success - the student must surpass the master. Also your friends serve as the final pressure force. You log on to Facebook any day of the week and see status updates on job promotions, new cars, and vacations. The initial thought that crosses your mind is “this person is an asshole”…but you also begin to slowly realize that “this person must be doing really well.”…Right?

For some people, these three pressure forces above may be positive motivational factors that increase your success but for the general population, the added pressure can be too much. In some cases, too much pressure and competition may lead to self-doubt, decreased performance, and even depression.

Here are the top 5 must-have skills (job, social, life) for 2013 that will set you apart from anyone and everyone you know and give you more success than you ever thought possible.

1. Write Down 1 Goal to Complete in 30 Days

This pertains to time management, goal setting, and goal completion.

Do this right now. Take out a piece of paper. Create 30 boxes in the same style as a normal calendar month. Label the first box “Day 1” and end with “Day 30”. Now, at the top of the paper, write down 1 goal. Not 2 goals, or 3 goals…you’re getting ahead of yourself. Studies have shown that writing down 1 goal leads to more success and also gives more satisfaction to the goal-setter.

Your goal may be to work out every other day. It may be to just jog 20 minutes on the treadmill per day. Whatever it is, you should challenge yourself to stick by it. I guarantee you that most people will fail because they think this is a stupid idea. Well, you can live your entire life by not doing this and still achieve amazing goals. But for others who haven’t seen progress, this type of format works and I’m living proof. Challenge yourself for 30 days…maybe it will extend to 60 days eventually.

Tip: Mark an “X” for the days you accomplished the goal. At the end of 30 days, tally the “X’s” with the clear boxes. (You should have more X’s..)

2. Learn How to Invest. Start Young!

This relates to personal finance and long-term management.

How many of you invest your money? Ideally this would begin at age 25, but any age is fine as long as you’re not 70. The idea is to actually save a portion of your money, whether it is $50 or $200. I’ve heard some people saving exactly 20% of their paycheck to even saving an exact figure like 37% (lucky number). Whatever it is, you should consider opening up a savings deposit at your bank and putting in a certain amount each month.

The best way is to set up an automatic payment plan that transfers money from your paycheck into your savings account on a certain day every month. Start out with $100, then work your way up to $200 and maybe even $1000 per month. Any amount will help. 10 years down the road, you’ll thank me.

3. Teach Yourself How to Prepare ONE Dinner Dish

This will seriously get you laid. And if it doesn’t, you’ll still be eating some good food, so win-win.

I am appalled by how many people…wait I said that wrong. I am appalled by how few people know how to actually cook something. I can’t count the times when I’ve went to a friend’s house and they fucked up a perfectly good steak and laughed it off. It’s funny sometimes, but when you have a date you will seriously look like so incompetent you'll want to die. Keep in mind that in the beginning I truly sucked at cooking. This was a work in progress and was an amazing goal that actually links to #1 of the 30 day goal setting challenge.

Go on Food Network or look up recipes online. Learn how to make one challenging dish. This means a multi-dish that includes at least three aspects to it. It will cost you maybe $20 to buy ingredients and 2 hours max to learn…but the skill will stay with you forever. For example, I recently learned how to properly cut sushi and made 5 different types of rolls with 5 different types of fish for my friends. You would think that you just cut it right? There are some intricacies involved and proper cutting methods that drastically improve the flavor and visual aura of sushi if done the correct way. My guests loved it, and it continues to be an amazing ice-breaker whenever I meet new people that my friends introduce me too. It’s given me more confidence and made me appreciate the hard work that goes into making a single dish. Plus it's fun!

4. Tell Me a Good Story! Do You Know Any Good Jokes?

This is a social and life skill. So listen up.

It was a rainy day at my college friend’s apartment. The vibe was amazing, with alcohol flowing through our systems, music blasting, and an amazing ratio of guys to girls. Now I’m not that good at social settings, I admit...but I’m not terrible either. It depends entirely on the situation. Well in this case it was bad.

You know when someone asks you if you know a good story or any good jokes? Usually it doesn’t matter but sometimes it could be very awkward when everyone quiets down and looks at you because they assume you're going to say something hilarious. After all, you’re smart and work in finance and make bank so you can do everything right? Wrong.

I failed. I completely blanked and was embarrassed I couldn't even say something. I didn’t know any good stories or any funny jokes. Even one-liners. Nothing. Zip. I felt really fucking stupid. Now this advice may be ridiculously dumb for some of you but I can tell you that it changed my life. It made me realize that someone who can tell a good story or create some laughs can really ease the crowd and control the environment. I'm not talking about telling an award-winning story, but something is nice. Plus, everyone likes someone who opens up and can present themselves verbally with a group of people. And for you lonely late-night masturbators, this will get you chicks…sometimes. But that shouldn’t be the only reason. It helps give you social confidence!

Bottom line – learn a good joke or two. It will serve you well in certain niche situations and create an amazing return. It also makes you more interesting, because right now you're a boring person.

5. Find Your Adventure Gene

This final goal relates to kicking ass, having fun, and living life. All of you work too much and make too much money. It’s the Catch-22 of finance and banking, in that you make so much money but you have nothing you can do with it or no one you can spend it with.

When is the last time you’ve had a fun day outside of work? Drinking alcohol doesn’t count, and neither does having enough time to watch an episode of your favorite T.V. show. And with that, your answer is probably not in a long time. I guarantee that if you don’t start making a change in your life right now to have some fun and seek adventure, then you’ll never find the time. It goes downhill if you can’t take this approach in your 20’s and 30’s. Take advantage of your youth because raising a family is a lot harder than you think it is and requires extensive time.

Here are some ideas: skydiving, paragliding, surfing lessons, scuba diving, snowboarding, jet-skiing, ATVing, biking, rock climbing…the list goes on. Even picking up a new hobby such as photographing and bike-riding (buy a nice mountain bike) can fit in. The possibilities are endless. Go on Groupon, Living Social, and find some good deals. Hell, even try bikram yoga...I did it once and it was a crazy workout and made me feel like I accomplished something.

When you’re 50, you’ll look back on your life and regret the things you couldn’t do. You hear this so many times right? Then why don’t you actually listen to it. Make plans this weekend to go outside and hang out with your friends…and even do some of these activities with them. You’ll make great memories and learn some new things about yourself.

What are some other skills for 2013 that you think should be added to the list?

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Comments (11)

  • osanjak's picture

    Interesting and refreshing post, thank you.

    Definitely some ideas I will consider/undertake.

    OE

  • liveproper's picture

    no no you're wrong; top 5 skills for 2013:
    1. make makeshift weapons out of household items
    2. steal/barter for food
    3. ability to make a fire
    4. evade security personnel
    5. immigrate to a country with a low debt/gdp

  • dacasale's picture

    #2. Learn How to Invest sounds more like "Learn how to save".

    - Learning how to say no is a good skill.

  • trazer985's picture

    my only issue with #2 is that while people born in the 1960 might agree with you, people born in say 1910 Germany might have a slight issue with their entire savings being devalued. So I agree with the mental principle that one day you might not be able to earn, and you need to be prepared for it. I'm personally not taking a pension, but I am acquiring assets that return an income without significant effort from me. I will work until I die, even if its from a wheelchair.

  • loldanielol's picture

    Good post. Love #3, which is something I've started lately. Cooking is a great way to relax, and as they say, the best way to a woman's heart is though cooking her a good meal.

  • In reply to loldanielol
    droking7's picture

    loldanielol:
    Cooking is a great way to relax, and as they say, the best way to a woman's heart is though cooking her a good meal.

    You're wrong. It's the best way to a man's heart. The best way to a woman's heart is a compassionate pounding, if you will.

    Edit: Just ask Mikael Prokorov (sp?) - Russian tycoon.

  • carenu711's picture

    I agree with all the ideas given special being a social animal.
    It's really correct ....A well known proverb " You can make laugh everyone if you are laughing very easily, but no one would be interested to cry with you"
    Sticking to the goals is another big target to achieve !!!!

    Tomorrow never comes and today never ends !

  • RepThyBananas's picture

    1. Resilience
    2. Fill out online apps blindfolded or preferably in your sleep
    3. Ability to morph all past experience into possible responses to fit questions
    4. Ironing (For that one shirt)

    Rarely will any of my posts have enough forethought/structure to be taken seriously.

  • In reply to loldanielol
    atmosphere's picture

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  • In reply to dacasale
    atmosphere's picture