10 Difficult Skills that Pay Off Forever

In life, there are lots of skills we need to learn to navigate the world. We go to school to learn how to read, write, and do math. These skills are foundational to getting into college, getting our first jobs, and living as a citizen in society.

But there are some skills you don’t get taught in school that can help you grow and that end up paying off not just in the short term, but throughout your whole life.

These skills can be difficult to master, but their long-term benefits far outweigh any frustrations we might experience trying to learn them.

Here are 10 difficult skills that, once you’ve learned them, will pay off forever:

10 Difficult Skills that Pay Off Forever

Working Out Consistently

The hardest part about working out isn’t lifting weights, running long distances, or folding into those yoga poses. The hardest part is actually working out consistently.

Learning how to make time in your life, at all stages of your life, to go to the gym, hit the pavement, or roll out your yoga mat is one of the greatest battles you may face within yourself.

Even though it’s all in your head, learning to work out consistently will have immense short and long term benefits. Working out releases endorphins, controls weight, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even some cancers. Improving your strength has mental and physical benefits that will echo throughout the rest of your life.

If you can master exercising consistently, the pay off will be huge.

Personal Finance Skills

No matter how much money you make, if you learn personal finance skills, you can help improve your financial situation.

Do research on personal finance and read books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, or Financial Freedom by Grant Sabatier. Learning how to create a budget, save money, and invest in yourself is a huge asset.

When you learn personal finance skills and can keep track of where your money is going, you’ve set your future self up for success.


Sitting in silence for any amount of time can be difficult. Many people practice meditation their entire lives to improve their meditation skills. But science shows that even meditating for just a few minutes a day can have vast improvements on your life and brain.

Meditation can help you focus on the present moment, build stress-management skills, increase creativity and patience, and reduce negative emotions.

Meditation also has some major long-term benefits. In a study done by UCLA, “Forever Young(er): potential age-defying effects of long-term meditation on gray matter atrophy” — they found that “gray matter loss was less pronounced in meditators” than in non-meditators. Essentially, it can help keep your brain preserved as you age!

Verbal & Written Communication Skills

The way you communicate with the world determines how the world interacts with you.

If you can verbally communicate your needs, thoughts, and goals with others in an effective way, you have a superpower that will help you get very far in business, relationships, and life.

Being able to communicate with the written word also goes a long way — from being able to craft an email asking your boss for a raise, to writing out a business proposal, being able to communicate through writing has enormous benefits for your life long-term.

As Tony Robbins has said:

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

Waking Up Early

For some, waking up early is as natural as breathing. For others, it takes some getting used to.

However, waking up early is one of those skills that can help you reclaim your day, get more hours, and work on the things that matter most to you.

Many high-earning CEOs have early morning routines such as Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Howard Schultz, Jeff Weiner, Martha Stewart, Tim Cook, and Bob Iger.

The most important aspect of waking up early is that it forces you to plan your day consciously, instead of just letting other people dictate when you wake up. When you take control of your schedule, you can make room for the things that really matter and improve your life.

Public Speaking

Knowing how to command a crowd can have huge advantages throughout the rest of your life.

If you can communicate to a large audience, keep their attention, and express your opinions and thoughts, you’ll get a long way towards accomplishing your goals and aspirations.

Public speaking also helps improve your social connections, leadership skills, logical thinking skills, and more.

Get Honest With Yourself

Sometimes, looking at ourselves honestly is one of the hardest things we can do. But if we don’t understand the truth of ourselves and our problems, we can never work to overcome them.

Learning how to look at yourself honestly and get real with your issues will help you break through barriers so much faster than if you kept telling yourself lies.

In the words of Gift Gugu Mona:

“You can never be true to others, if you keep on lying to yourself.”


Maya Angelou is quoted as saying:

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.”

Learning how to lead helps improve your career options and opportunities, boosts your confidence, and helps bring your vision to life. Without leadership skills, it’s very hard to make change in the world. Doing it alone is almost never as effective as bringing a team together.

If you can master leadership skills, you’ll see it’s rewards forever.

Decision Making

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube once said:

“Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities – the good ones – are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”

One of the hardest parts of life is simply deciding what path to take in any given situation. Sometimes, we can get decision paralysis, which occurs when there are so many options, we can’t choose one, so we end up doing nothing.

But if you can master the skill of making decisions, sorting through your options, and making a choice from confidence, you can keep moving forward without wasting time.

Part of decision making is accepting that you can’t know the outcomes of every possible option. You can only know what you know now, so you have to make the best decision with that information. If you discover later down the road that you should have done something differently, learn how to pivot quickly and without guilt.


In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey, he writes that:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Listeners are learners. When you can learn how to listen, you’ll learn all kinds of useful information.

Being able to listen can help you close a sales deal that’s about to fall through. It can help you repair relationships with friends and family. It can show you new things you never knew before.

Realize that you don’t know everything and start listening to those around you, they might just have something valuable to share.

Try cultivating these ten skills in your own life and see how they affect your life both in the short and long term. It might just surprise you.

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