Life Skills: Definition, Examples, & Skills to Build

Updated Oct 12, 2022.
Life Skills

Every smart individual prepares for anything life throws at them. There are crucial skills you need to possess to help you overcome anything life throws your way.

Life skills are essential for everyone. In addition to academic qualifications and technical skills, you need life skills to live a happy and successful life.

Many adults focus on equipping their children with life skills but do not pay attention to acquiring those skills for themselves.

This article covers the basics of life skills and the top skills that everyone, irrespective of age group, should possess.

Let’s get started.

What are Life Skills?

Life skills are the unique abilities that equip us as humans to effectively deal with the demands and challenges that characterize our daily lives.

Psychosocial skills, otherwise called life skills, are psychological in that they affect humans' natural thinking and behavioral processes, providing an advantage in various areas of life.

Besides providing an idea of our mental well-being as humans, life skills enable humans to interact positively and adapt effectively with other humans and our environment.

Basic life skills help us deal effectively with contemporary issues and are acquired from our daily life experiences or through intentional learning.

Essentially, life skills are grouped into three main types.

  • Thinking Skills involve your ability to think and develop new solutions to specific problems and your creativity in developing innovations.
  • Social Skills help build healthy relationships, effective communication, and successful interactions.
  • Emotional Skills help you deal with emotions more effectively and make you more comfortable in your skin.

Importance of Life Skills

Essential life skills are fundamental in a constantly changing environment as they are critical to overcoming daily life challenges.

Life skills are the tools that equip us as humans to face challenges head-on and come out victorious. They provide a unique perspective on how we see these challenges.

The benefits of life skills to individuals and society at large are numerous.

Individual Benefits

  • Help individuals find new approaches to problem-solving and thinking.
  • Help individuals recognize their actions' impact and take more responsibility.
  • Building the confidence of individuals in their spoken ability helps them collaborate and cooperate better with other individuals.
  • Help individuals better appreciate others as they have greater self-awareness.

Employment Benefits

  • Improves the ability to self-manage, solve problems, work well and understand others in the business environment
  • Better time and people management
  • Easy to adapt to the peculiarities and changes that plague every work environment
  • Empowers individuals to take up key leadership roles

Societal Benefits

  • International cooperation is easier when cultural awareness and citizenship are recognized.
  • Creativity flourishes better as diversities are respected
  • Builds a more tolerant society
  • Negotiation skills and empathy promote conflict resolution, which helps build a better society.

Examples of Life Skills

Life skills are essential for a satisfying and productive life, and their relevance in the individual's life and society depends on unique circumstances.

Culture, geographical location, and belief are among the unique circumstances that define the relevance of life skills.

Here are some examples of critical life skills that enable individuals to be more productive in everyday activities.

1. Relationship Skills

Relationship skills help define how you interact with others as they set the tone for building effective and lasting relationships.

Here are some common examples of relationship skills.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is an essential relationship skill. It involves the most efficient approach to pass across ideas, perspectives, information, thoughts, and knowledge.

Communication skills can be verbal or non-verbal, and the message must get to the receiver for communication to be effective. The receiver must, in turn, send feedback back to the message's sender.

In life, you need to be more of a listener than a talker, as communication is beyond issuing out information.

Effective communication is more of emotions than words. The message's receiver has to be on the same wavelength as the sender. Communication is most effective when the message receiver understands beyond the words in which the message is being conveyed.

Effective Communication
Source: Haiilo

Essentially, communication is an expressive art that involves the process of creating and sharing ideas. Its efficacy depends on how rich the ideas being created and shared are.

Communication is one of many skills you need to live a satisfying and productive life. It is how you express your feelings, desires, thoughts, needs, and also fears in a bid to be heard and find a quick way of expressing them in reality.

Here are some essential aspects that aid in learning and developing effective communication as a life skill.

  • Literacy
  • Good presentation of ideas
  • The act of public speaking
  • Written communication
  • Body language
  • Non-verbal and verbal communication
  • Active listening

One of the many benefits of developing your communication skills is that it does not matter to whom you practice it, whether family, friends, colleagues or clients, you benefit from deeply personal and professional connections.

To communicate effectively, you must be wary of some barriers that impede communication. They include excessive stress, lack of focus, uncontrolled emotions, negative attitude, and body language.

Interpersonal Skills

All relationships are a product of interpersonal relationships. Developing interpersonal skills help build solid and robust associations between individuals. These associations are usually based on love, everyday business interactions, common goals, or social commitments.

Relationships developed from interpersonal relationships are often very beneficial to individuals' mental and social well-being. Interpersonal skills are the unique qualities and behavioral attributes exhibited when communicating with others.

As essential as interpersonal skills are, individuals who lack these skills are often easily susceptible to conflicts. Without these skills, it is difficult to get along with others without basic interpersonal skills.

Interpersonal skills are not ready-made life skills; it takes time to develop them. Consistency and competence are vital in mastering these life skills.

The benefit of developing interpersonal skills is to make interactions with others relatively smooth and pleasant. It is tailored to help you build successful, long-lasting bonds that eventually mature into healthy relationships.

Whether in your personal or professional life, developing interpersonal skills is one of the factors that help equip you to achieve a productive and satisfying life.

Here are some other life skills that make up interpersonal skills that you need to develop for maximum benefit.

  • Nonverbal and verbal communication
  • Leadership skills
  • Effective listening skills
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy
  • Conflict management
  • Positive attitude

2. Technical Skills

Technical skills help build your technicality as an individual in your thinking and ability to make better-informed decisions.

Here are some common examples of technical skills:

Decision-Making Skills

The ability to make good decisions is essential for achieving your life goals. Good decision-making ability is one of many life skills you need to learn. It is not a skill that you are readily born with but learning the act of making good decisions needs to be developed.

Decision-making is a procedural process, but prior experiences help form the basis on which decisions are to be made. You must apply decision-making skills in all areas of your life, including your workplace, home, or community.

To cultivate the habit of making effective decisions, you need to properly understand your environment, its limitations, possibilities, and opportunities.

Decisions are best made in a way that is easily implementable on both personal and professional levels. They require high intellect and confidence.

Second-guessing your decision is one of the biggest inhibitors of decision-making. Build a level where you trust your decision explicitly and are ready to bear the consequences of your decisions, whether good or bad.

Here are some other skills that you need alongside decision-making skills.

  • Time management
  • Creative thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Prioritization
  • Problem-solving

Emotional Intelligence

Intelligence is more of a mental capability than a physical one. This technical life skill helps you aim to make the best decisions in your daily life.

Emotions are one area that touches us as humans. We are often left vulnerable regarding emotions and building emotional attachments.

For this reason, being able to protect yourself from the vulnerabilities that come with emotions is one life skill you need to allow you to reach your full potential.

Emotional intelligence encompasses everything that has to do with total control of your emotions. It makes you capable of effectively identifying, accessing, and managing your emotions.

Developing emotional intelligence is very helpful for individuals. Apart from guaranteeing a very successful and productive life, it also guarantees the success and productivity of those around you who are directly linked to you.

To succeed in life, you need to achieve overall success. Being a brilliant academic without total control of your emotions opens you up to stress, which, if not properly managed, can undermine your academic achievement.

Emotional Intelligence
Source: Housman Institute

Emotions are a tricky aspect that needs to be threaded upon lightly as they can upset all-important life decisions if not adequately managed.

Here are some attributes you need to have to help you develop emotional intelligence.

  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Maintaining healthy relationships
  • Self-awareness

Problem-Solving Skills

Solving problems is one of many life soft skills developed from education or relevant training and practice.

Problem-solving is an important life skill that equips you to make light of difficult situations. This skill incorporates the mentality of finding solutions to any problem.

For problem-solving to be effective, you must first have a thorough and proper understanding of your problem. It is easier to proffer solutions to a problem you genuinely understand.

Implementing solutions is only the lesser part of the work. Most of the work comes from understanding the problem, its root cause, and the most effective approach to minimize or eliminate the problem.

Problem-solving is a very beneficial life skill that helps you make the best of every situation. Often, your inability to solve problems can impede you from living a productive and satisfying life. It opens you up to stress, which ultimately affects your mental health.

This technical skill allows you to evaluate situations from unique standpoints and arrive at multiple solutions that further open you up to unique opportunities you were unaware existed.

Building your problem-solving skills help make you a better individual. It highlights unique strengths and capabilities that would have been left unharnessed if not for the underlying problem.

Here are some other essential skills you should develop when developing your problem-solving skills.

  • Active listening
  • Creative thinking
  • Prioritizing
  • Brainstorming
  • Time management

Creative Thinking

Our ability to think as a human is one quality that distinguishes us as a higher species, as even children learn how to think for themselves from the moment they enter this world.

Creativity is an aspect that is often dicey. It involves going above and beyond your usual comfort zone and defying all established norms to develop a more innovative and efficient approach.

Creative thinking requires you to be a master in your ability to elaborate, be fluent, be flexible, and be original.

One of the important things creative thinking offers is the ability to add value to people's lives as you are more confident and reliable to others around you.

Creative thinking is always characterized by some risks, as you make it a habit to go beyond the established norms.

Mistakes are guaranteed to occur when developing this life skill. It is due to the significant risks that are associated with thinking creatively. Ultimately, the benefits you stand to gain from this life skill far outweigh the risk.

Developing your ability to think creatively makes you a precious resource. Organizations constantly search for people who can help make them more productive.

Here are some attributes that work best with creative thinking.

  • Leadership qualities
  • Creative courage
  • Brainstorming
  • Listening to feedback

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a technical skill closely linked with good judgment. Being a critical thinker is not a day job. It requires lots of time, energy, patience, and practice devoted to being technical in your thinking.

As a critical thinker, you must be able to make quality informed decisions from the relevant information available to you. The goal is to arrive at a reasonable judgment.

Peer pressure and the media are two major influencing factors everyone faces, including children and parents. As a critical thinker, you need to recognize the influence of these factors and ensure they do not define your value system.

Critical thinking helps you draw and arrive at a meaningful conclusion from the simplest of information, which is why it is an essential life skill.

You must be very good at education research to be an influential critical thinker. Engaged learning is one of the many qualities you need to develop.

Critical thinkers are active learners. You need to be able to make sense of every piece of information that makes its way to you.

Objectivity is also an important quality that helps develop your critical thinking skill. You must understand that even though you are required to work in groups, you ultimately solve problems independently.

Here are the key steps to develop yourself to be a critical thinker.

  • Identify the problem
  • Investigate the identified problem
  • Evaluate the information gathered on the identified problem based on facts
  • Keep an open mind
  • Effectively communicate the outcome

Numeracy Skills

Numeracy skills are one of many life skills that a vast majority of people struggle with. Mathematics is one subject that many people dread, even from a very young age.

Failure to pay attention to this skill is costly. A large part of your life requires you to come in contact with numbers. Developing numeracy skills is vital for positioning yourself for a successful and satisfying life.

Here are some benefits you can gain from developing numeracy skills.

  • Increase your chances of being employable
  • Better understanding of the world around you
  • Save resources in terms of time and money
  • Improves your mental health

You do not need to be the best at math or science in school to develop numeracy skills. This life skill's basic knowledge is sufficient to give you the edge you need in the real world.

With the understanding of the basic principles and your ability to implement these known principles in your daily life, numeracy as a life skill will open you up to countless opportunities.

3. Self-Management Skills

Self-management is closely tied to emotional intelligence. It deals with regulating yourself and your activities, even amid physical, mental, and emotional adversities.

Essentially, managing oneself depends on our ability to manage our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors most consciously and productively possible.

With self-management skills, you are better equipped to react to the challenges of living in this world as you better understand your responsibility.

Here are some common examples of self-management skills.


Self-awareness is a rare quality. Most live their lives believing that they are self-aware when they are not.

Self-awareness is about your ability to focus on yourself and understand how your thoughts, actions, emotions, and feelings align against the established societal standard.

Ultimately, being self-aware means having positive psychological well-being as you meet the high standards society holds accountable.

Developing self-awareness as a life skill enables you to be more confident and creative in making better-informed decisions.

Self-awareness makes it easier to build healthy relationships and interact more effectively with others as you have a unique viewpoint of what is generally accepted.

Interpersonal skills alongside effective communication are the two most important life skills that you need to be able to develop your ability to be self-aware.


Empathy is the ability to appreciate and relate to the feelings and emotions of others. By developing empathy as a life skill, you are better equipped to understand the feelings and emotions of others better as you can better relate and reason with them.

With empathy, you are more compassionate to the plight of others. It helps build a significant link between you and others.

Empathy as a skill comes from within. This self-management skill allows you to accommodate the perspectives and behaviors of others before taking any decision that has the potential to affect both parties.

Humans develop patience and express their genuine concerns about others better with empathy, which motivates them to work hand-in-hand to find solutions to their problems.

Communication is one-sided without empathy, as you focus on yourself at the expense of others. Developing empathy allows you to be more cooperative and build effective connections with others that spur you toward making morally just decisions.


Flexibility is a thinking skill that calls on your ability to improvise and adapt to any situation you find yourself in. With this skill, you can easily develop strategies to help you succeed even in the most uncomfortable circumstances.

The world we live in is constantly changing and evolving. We need to develop skills and strategies that help us effectively adjust and adapt to these changes and position us to reap maximum benefits from these new changes.

Flexibility is one life skill that guarantees you success even in the most uncomfortable of situations. With a flexible mindset, you can take on any new change you were not anticipating. You welcome change as a new learning experience, thereby reducing unnecessary stress.

Here are some essential aspects you must consider when developing flexibility as a life skill.

  • Open-mindedness
  • Creative thinking
  • Adaptability
  • Assertiveness

4. Time Management Skills

Time management is one skill you need to have in your corner in your quest for a productive and satisfying life.

As humans, managing time effectively is one skill that is hard to develop and sustain. Time as a resource is limited but needed to be proficient and efficient in all endeavors.

Managing your available time is one skill poised to tremendously impact your personal and professional lives. It eliminates stress and allows you to strategize better for the opportunities that present themselves to you.

Every individual has goals that drive their living. Time management is an essential skill that you need to actualize your goals. This skill allows you to strategize better.


You are assertive when you stand up for yourself and what you believe in, even amidst criticism from others. Assertiveness is not harmful. It does not condone aggressive behaviors or insults in making your stance known.

Developing the skill of assertiveness allows you to share your perspective without undermining or harshly invalidating the suggestions of others.

Assertiveness is one skill that enables you to communicate better, whether in your personal or professional life.

Here are some other life attributes that you need closely linked to assertiveness.

  • Self-control
  • Accountability
  • Honesty
  • Open-mindedness


Resilience is a skill that builds your resolve against stress and challenges that you are likely to face as a result of adapting to new situations.

Developing resilience as a skill strengthens you psychologically to handle stress and challenges that arise effectively.

When overwhelmed by life challenges, most humans fall under the effects of these challenges. They pick up unhealthy coping habits, which in the long run, have dire consequences on their personal and professional lives.

By being resilient, you are better equipped to handle life problems and arise above the struggles that limit your productivity.


Cooperation is a skill that enables you to get along with others. It is an important skill needed in the community of our development.

Whether as a family unit, a team, or in society, cooperation is a life skill needed as goals are easier to achieve through our collective results. As humans, our strength lies in our numbers, but cooperation is the skill that keeps everyone loyal to the cause.

Here are some skills you need to have alongside cooperation to reap its full benefits.

  • Conflict resolution
  • Empathy
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Teamwork
  • Flexibility
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Effective communication

Top Life Skills By Age Group

Depending on the age group where you find yourself, the essential life skills required to make life easier for you vary as the challenges differ for specific age groups.

Here are some life skills that are peculiar to distinct age groups.

1. Life Skills for Kids

Kids are at the beginning phases of their lives and are just beginning to develop life skills that will carry them throughout their lives.

Unlike adults, the life skills kids need to focus on are the fundamental skills that allow them to develop more complex life skills later.

Here are some examples of life skills for kids.

  • Viewing the perspective of others
  • Communicating and expressing their thoughts, needs, and feelings
  • Building connections
  • Making smart decisions
  • Managing themselves and things better
  • Improving creativity
  • Performing tasks simply for the fun of it rather than because of getting a reward
  • Resilience in the face of challenges

2. Life Skills for Students

Students need to develop life skills that center on how to manage themselves and become team players. These skills come in handy to position them to be good leaders and valued employees in the future.

The essential life skills required of any student fall under either self-management skills, resilience skills, or relationship competency skills.

Here are some examples of life skills for students under these three categories.

Self-Management Skills

Students need to develop skills that help them manage themself better and position themselves for better opportunities in the future.

Here are some self-management skills that every student should aspire to have.

  • Devoting ample time to be fully present at all educational or social meetings
  • Internal monitoring and being self-aware of your thoughts and feelings
  • Making value-based decisions
  • Incorporating integrity into your value system

Relational Competency Skills

Skills that build relational competency skills as students are important life skills that every student needs to build and maintain healthy relationships.

Here are some skills you need to make your relationship savvy as a student.

  • Inculcating a habit of keeping and respecting social commitments
  • Maintaining proper and effective communication in relationships
  • Tolerating people's beliefs, views, perspectives, and opinions
  • Conflict resolution

Resilience Skills

Failure is one factor that is inevitable in the journey of every student and life in general. Resilience skills are life skills that help students deal with failures and life adversities.

Here are some examples of resilience skills.

  • Keeping a hopeful mindset
  • Developing a sense of purpose
  • Developing your self-caring ability
  • Taking a solution-based approach to life

3. Life Skills in Education

Education has been impacted the most by changes in global economies and the development of new and innovative technologies over the past years.

Developing life skills in education is a must for every aspiring entrepreneur or business person. To cope with these changes in modern life, people need to incorporate new life skills in education to prepare them for the changes being experienced every day.

Here are some life skills in education that you should avail yourself of.

  • Ability to deal with frustration
  • Ability to adapt to changes in your life and work environment
  • Ability to withstand pressure

4. Life Skills for Adults

Adults, especially parents, need life skills to equip them for the world of adulthood. They face unique challenges that require some unique skill sets to conquer.

Parents need to start thinking in respect of their kids and be conscious of what they exhibit around them as young kids begin to pick up skills they witness their parents exhibiting.

Here are some life skills that every adult should aspire to have.

  • Set out daily intentions for yourself
  • Prioritize actions and urgency
  • Time management
  • Develop the art of persuasion
  • Push yourself over and beyond boundaries
  • Carry your dreams along anywhere you go

Use the Most Important Life Skills to Become an Entrepreneur

In your quest to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to utilize most of the important life skills. They are the foundation for a successful entrepreneurial career. These life skills are part of the essential characteristics of successful entrepreneurs.

Figuring out where to start building life skills is often challenging. You can overcome this challenge by making a definitive list of the skills you lack or are bad at and start building your skills from that list.

Building skills is a learning process. As an entrepreneur, you need to constantly enjoy the process, starting with easy skills and working your way up to the more complex skills.

Most important life skills would be handy in your journey as an entrepreneur. You need better skills to manage your developmental disabilities to become a successful entrepreneur.

Life skills are practical lessons. One of the essential requirements is for you to devote time to developing them. You need to constantly engage in activities that help you utilize these life skills as they help you improve on these skills.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.