7 new skills you could learn within a year

Learning a new skill helps diversify your interests and enhance your growth, combining the satisfaction of personal achievement with the potential for added income streams. But it’s also not a process that can be rushed – you can’t give up if you’re not skilled after your first few attempts. Perhaps set yourself goals over a year, so that you aim to achieve regular targets in your new field of study at specified intervals.

Experts say that acquiring a new skill can help improve your memory, fight off dementia and improve your overall happiness and well-being, and that picking a goal that’s achievable in a reasonable time gives you extra motivation to stick to it

We’ve put together a list of some easily accessible options.

1. DIY: Basic repairs and maintenance

Being your own handy(wo)man is a genuinely life-changing skill. Not only will you save on call-out fees from getting a plumber to change a washer in your tap or paying someone to drill a few holes in your wall, but you’ll also enjoy the satisfaction of knowing the job is done to your standards.

Save yourself some money by learning the basics of:

  • unclogging a drain,
  • putting up shelves,
  • cleaning and changing your pool filters,
  • fixing leaky taps,
  • painting or sealing walls, floors and ceilings, and
  • minor structural repairs like regrouting loose tiles or bricks, filling, sanding and painting damaged plaster, etc.

Vehicle-maintenance skills are essential as well. You should know how to:

  • change a tyre,
  • check your car’s oil and water levels and tyre pressure,
  • change your windscreen-wiper blades, and
  • jump-start or roll-start your car.

2. Learn how to play an instrument

Why not switch up that air guitar for a real one? If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, it’s about time you followed through. Who knows, you may have hidden natural talent that’s just waiting to be unleashed – and even if you don’t, you never have to play for anyone but yourself. Having a creative outlet just for yourself can be a soothing stress reliever.

Start with a beginner’s course – you can use platforms like YouTube for free online lessons. Browse local classifieds and social media groups to find affordable second-hand instruments if you can’t splurge on that brand-new Gibson just yet. It’s traditional to start your journey towards rock stardom on a budget, anyway!

3. Brush up on life and social skills

Skills like cooking, effective communication, stress management, building self-confidence and public speaking are assets in life and in business. If you feel you’d like to improve in any of these areas, taking a short course can make you more confident both socially and in the workplace. You might also want to take some courses in self-defence and first aid if you haven’t already – they’ll make you more level-headed and proactive in a crisis.

4. Find the fitness regime that fits you

Try yoga, Pilates, Zumba, cycling, swimming, dancing, rollerblading – anything to get your body moving, your blood pumping and your muscles working. If the gym isn’t for you, try something different that gives you a regular workout – even an hour’s walk every day will help. Physical activity is also excellent for stress management and improving your quality of life.


The more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn as you broaden your horizons

And if you find a type of exercise you really enjoy, you might even reach an expert level, and become a certified practitioner. You could then offer classes and turn your favourite workout regime into a great side hustle.

5. Learn a new language

In a country with 11 official languages, being multilingual is a valuable skill. Learning a new language will take time and patience, so be easy on yourself. If you have friends who speak the language, have simple conversations with them and ask them to correct any grammatical or phonetic mistakes you make. Watching movies or TV shows in the new language with subtitles will also help you pick it up faster.

6. Take an academic course

Looking to bulk up your CV this year? Courses in project management, basic finance and the latest software in your field could all be useful. Many companies will pay for your studies if they make you a better asset to the business – but don’t be afraid to study anything that you find interesting. There are several affordable and even free online courses offered by educational sites like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and Coursera.

7. Make a dream a reality

A new skill doesn’t have to be something you’ll use in your everyday life or to make money. If you have a secret passion, go for it. The whole point is to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, even if it’s only to say, ‘I did that!’ If you’ve always wanted to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler, even if you have no intention of ever driving one for a living, you can still learn how to do it – the same way you can learn to juggle without wanting to do it on stage. In either case, the accomplishment you feel will be unmatched – and proving that you can set and reach goals, however ‘trivial’ they may seem to others, is always good for your self-confidence.

You may want to study part-time for a degree, diploma or short course. Perhaps you need one-on-one training in professional skills, like public speaking or effective communication. Or maybe you’ll decide to sign up for lessons in cooking, metalwork, ballroom dancing, vegetable gardening, clothes-making, carpentry, or the millions of other varied skills that can make life more exciting – whatever it is, you have an advantage if you have a full-time job. Depending on your credit score and your personal circumstances, you may be eligible for a personal loan or a student loan to help you pay the costs of learning whatever new skill you fancy.

Stay focused on your goal and remain consistent in your efforts. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at your new skill. The more you learn, the more you’ll want to learn as you broaden your horizons. Knowledge is power, so never stop learning.

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