Practicing Life Skills

Practicing life skills is the logical extension of developing basic life skills. It blends everything we know about personal, relationship and project skills and puts them into action. Fundamental knowledge becomes basic beliefs that are then translated into everyday behavior. The result: Success in life increases. Not only will better employability skills increase workplace success, but better relationship skills increase positive interaction with others. Overcoming challenges also becomes much easier. In practicing life skills that include good character and strong self-esteem, we can't help but look at the world in a more positive way.

To many people, practicing may sound like it involves a great deal of thinking and effort. In reality, once basic life skills become a part of who we are, implementing them becomes second nature (instinctive actions or reactions that involve little to no thinking.) In many cases, we replace negative instincts that probably aren't working very well, with positive instincts that produce more positive results.

Practicing life skills is all about personal improvement and personal empowerment. We will never be able to totally control a situation, but our behavior can undoubtedly result in a better outcome for us. And since behavior is often contagious, we may find ourselves setting the tone for the entire situation.


Personal Growth Through the Practice of Basic Life Skills

Anger / Conflict Management

Anger, which often produces conflict, is probably the most important area to address with regard to practicing life skills. A display of anger can instantly change any situation into a negative encounter.

Whether we are the one who is angry, or the one interacting with someone who is angry it is helpful to try to identify the cause. Frustration can result in anger, as can feeling hurt or helpless. Knowing the root cause can help determine the appropriate action or reaction.

Developing and practicing life skills, that include self-control along with a high level of self-confidence and conflict resolution skills, can help minimize angry interactions.

Managing Life's Challenges and Accepting Life Changes

One sure thing in life is that we will face many challenges. Perfection - in ourselves, in those around us and in the outcome of situations and events – is basically unattainable. Challenge, therefore, is a normal part of everyday life and should be expected. In fact, many people welcome a good challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow and teach others. You may never consciously seek out a challenge, but neither should you ever live in fear of or dread facing challenges that are sure to come throughout your life. By developing basic life skills, every person can better prepare for and make the most of every challenge.

Life’s challenges occur all the time. Relatively simple challenges include: How will I get this report done by 3 o’clock? or How can I get the kids to school and get to work on time, since the car won’t start? More complicated challenges could include: How can I work with a broken arm? or How will the household – or workplace – function with me in the hospital? New jobs, new homes, changes in relationships, raising children and the pursuit of educational goals can also present numerous challenges. In these cases, the goal should be to actively manage the challenge, using it to create or improve a generally normal life.

Life changes, on the other hand are major challenges that are often much harder to manage. They are usually permanent and can completely alter an individual’s future by redefining a “normal” life. In these cases, the goal is more to accept the change and work to create a new normalcy. Examples of life changes could include a child leaving home and becoming totally independent; growing old and not being able to do things once easily done; becoming permanently disabled or the death of a child, parent or spouse. In these cases life in the future will most assuredly be different.

Ironically, whether a situation is a simple challenge or a life-altering change depends entirely on the person experiencing it. What devastates one person may be seen by another person as simply a normal part of life that can – and will – be managed. In either case, life skills such as decision-making/problem-solving and goal-setting, as well as flexibility, adaptability, and patience can help transform any challenge into an opportunity to learn, grow and teach others.


1. Believe in yourself: Know you have the ability to handle this situation in a positive way. At the very least, consider your A-R-E-A of Control.

2. Assess the situation: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being “no big deal” and 10 being “only God can help me with this,” rate the severity of the situation. Then determine what options you have in managing or accepting the change in this the situation. (Consider the benefits and any negative consequences that might be included in each option. Also consider how each option will affect those around you.)

3. Make a decision: Assuming this is truly your decision to make, choose your best option based on the available information. (A challenge or decision that directly affects others, or requires their help in managing the challenge or implementing the decision, may require seeking input from them.)

4. Create goals to put your decision into action: Simple challenges may involve a simple goal; complicated decisions may involve multiple goals. For each goal, establish a realistic deadline, list the steps needed to achieve it and prioritize those steps to determine the order in which will be carried out.

5. Adjust your plan as needed: No plan is perfect so expect to make some changes. And always remember: Mistakes and setbacks happen. Learn from them and keep going.

6. Evaluate the results: Lessons learned from one challenge can make managing future challenges much easier. Don’t waste the knowledge you have gained. Once the challenge has been managed, consider what went well and what you might do differently in a similar situation. What did you learn? Do you feel you have strengthened some of your coping skills? Have others learned anything from watching you handle this challenge?

While being a role model may be the last thing on your mind when you are trying to manage a serious challenge, but aware that someone (family, friends, co-workers) is probably observing how you handle this challenge to get ideas for how he or she might handle a similar challenge.

Dressing for Success

Many situations can improve greatly if we are dressed appropriately. Some will remain the same regardless of what we wear. And some can become a disaster quickly if the proper attire is not worn. There is little doubt, however, that the image we present determines how others will react to us.

Being clean and neat whould be considered the top priority in dressing for success. If we are dirty and smell, it really doesn't matter what we are wearing. On the other hand, even if we don't have the perfect attire, we can still make a good impression by being clean and neat. (We can then explain why we are not dressed perfectly, if necessary.)

Dressing for success during an interview is particularly important. A good rule of thumb would be to dress one step above what the job requires. Think about what you will be wearing on-the-job and make it just a little more formal. This shows the employer that you could present a more professional image if required.

Developing and practicing life skills associated with personal and relationship success can also help achieve interview goals.

Speaking to a Group

Many people would rather go to the dentist, than speak to a group of people. Due to a reserved or more supportive personality, some people just don’t like being the center of attention. Others may feel they don't have anything important to say.

Public speaking may not be a career choice. But it can occasionally be required in a variety of jobs. Practicing life skills such as self-confidence, basic communication skills and organization can relieve the instant feeling of fear and dread. If we believe in our abilities and are well-prepared, stress levels will be lowered.

Teen Advice / Help

Peer pressure and having little control or limited influence over any given situation is not uncommon in all areas of life - at home and at work. For most of us, these negatives are offset by years of experience, established life skills and/or other areas that are positive.

For many teens, however, this balance may be hard to achieve. They do not have years of experience in handling these negatives. They are just beginning to develop strong basic life skills. And it is sometimes difficult to find positive areas at home, school or work, because all three may seem overly restrictive.

Good advice to teens would be to boost self esteem, while improving communication skills. Our self esteem is one of the few things we can control. (It is important, however, to remember that healthy self esteem is not simply thinking we are great. It also involves self-respect, which increases the value we place on ourselves and achievement, which increases confidence in our abilities.)

Good communication, a significant part of relationship skills, includes the realization that perception is not always reality, and places a high value on assertiveness and conflict resolution.

Personal goal setting can also help us stay focused on the future we want to have. Although practicing life skills may sound hard, it really isn't that difficult. And as we see our success increase, it becomes easier and easier.