Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Create a Skill Set Bucket List

bucket list

Today is all about giving yourself some credit and then thinking about things you'd like to know.

When I was a teenager a friend who was in college introduced me to a friend of his who was a bit older. As the conversation ended and the guy walked away my friend said "He knows something about everything."

I never saw the guy again so I never knew if it was true or not, but something about that encounter stayed with me. Knowing a little bit about a lot of things seemed like something I could find a way to do. I had the added advantage of being interested in lots of different things. I envied people, and still do, who know what that one thing is that they want to spend their lives doing at a young age. I have always been afraid I'd miss a lot by choosing one interest to the exclusion of all others.

For years I thought this made me a bit of a slacker, or quitter even, but at this point in life I can respect my love for the learning process. I get interested in things and immerse myself in investigating them, get a pretty good handle on them or (as with Italian) enough to get by, feel the satisfaction of that and then am ready to learn something new.

When my kids were little I decided that I'd make learning a new thing every year a goal. Over the last 25 years here are some of the things I've learned in no particular order:

  • How to bake bread. I won a blue ribbon at the fair and never made bread again.
  • Quilting. Made a couple and was finished.
  • I learned enough Italian to get through 9 days in Italy.
  • Greek. Not enough to get through 9 days in Greece but the class was interesting and fun.
  • Skiing
  • How to cross stitch. Haven't done this again.
  • How to garden. An ongoing love and challenge
  • Beekeeping. Ditto for love and challenge.
  • How to draw.
  • How to raise baby chickens. Fun but messy so now I buy adults.
  • How to raise a puppy.  
  • How to raise a kitten. 
  • Singing in public. (not karaoke) Read about it here.
  • How to cook. Ongoing. Unfortunately. 
  • Harvesting honey.
  • Snorkeling. Once, but I would do it again.
  • Rendering beeswax.
  • Photography. Ongoing love.
  • How to start a blog.
  • How to refinish furniture. A necessary skill to save big bucks on decorating your home.
  • Yoga.
  • How to make my own skin care products
  • How to be a docent at an art museum.
  • Public speaking
  • Plan a wedding. Read the series about it here. (In all honesty my over-achieving    daughter did the lion's share.)

The list could be much longer because all of these things have smaller things that must be learned, but then get included into the new skill or knowledge set. Some things were accidents. A few were planned. It all got a bit more intentional when the kids left home and I started volunteering and getting out more and I mentioned to people that I "try to learn one new thing a year." Now in January people often ask me what I'm learning. These days I feel a bit of pressure to have an answer nailed down.

You'll also notice that some things morphed into other things as time went on. Journaling, which I'd always done,  became blogging. A small herb garden led to a larger garden and composting and chickens. Even your small actions can have snowballing effects.

I'll bet you also know how to do a ton of things you haven't necessarily given yourself credit for. It can be helpful on a day when you are feeling oppressed by our culture full of millionaire twenty-somethings. Some days we all feel like failures and can't see our progress.

So today make a list of all the things you know how to do. Do you know how to save a ton of money using coupons? Can you drive a stick shift? (I can't) Decorate a room? Plan healthy meals? Write it down. The younger you are the shorter the list will be, but then you can also start to think about things you might like to learn in the next few years.

Tennis? Starting a business? Reading the classics?

Document what you know how to do and then make a list of things you'd like to learn. At the end you'll have a skill set bucket list. You may have a bucket list already of things you'd like to do or places you'd like to visit. Some of those might go on here. As you can see I added "snorkeling" counting it as a skill even though I learned it while I was doing it. One time. Some of these were things I learned how to do but also fears I overcame--singing in public.

 It's YOUR list. Do it however you want.

Leave a comment and let me know what's on your list whether you have already learned how to do it or are adding it to your bucket list!



  1. Excellent. I love this idea. Maybe I'll work on that this weekend.

    1. Let me know how it turns out! At 51 I am noticing a lot of grown women who feel like they haven't accomplished much. I think we just haven't thought about all the things we DO know how to do as a skill set. I hate the idea that things only count if you can put them on a resume. Enjoy your list making!


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