To Get Ahead, You only Really need to know these 2 skills

To secure your future, you only really need to practice these 2 skills.

The Rat Race has been upgraded to the Horse Hurry.

Tech is intertwined with the fabric of our advancements as a species. So every year or two, as Moore’s law dictates, it’s gets faster and faster.

This has advanced opportunities unheard of even just 10 years ago.

The Internet has smashed walls and opened up avenues for so many would-be creative entrepreneurs. Add powerful computing power and we’ve got a beautiful meadow of opportunity in front of us.

Creatives that went the ‘traditional job route’ can finally see a way out. And the creatives who stuck to their craft can finally see a way of finally making a living.

But with great opportunity comes great self-direction.

Especially in the world of the solo creative entrepreneur.

Even if you consider yourself a intrapeneur, technology is coming from you too. You will be automated out of a job quickly if you don’t adapt.

The meadow of opportunity smells like barley in reality

Your ability to thrive in modern environment depends on your ability to do two things well: learning and producing.

Everything else you want to do comes after these.

Why?

The skills of learning and producing are called meta-skills i.e. skills used to create new skills. Fun, right?

Yes, fun indeed. Because if you can take a step back, understand how you learn and understand how to focus (produce) then that’s it, you win.

You will be able to do anything you want.

The only two things you must master are learning and producing.

  • You must learn how to you learn (if you don’t know already).
  • And you must learn how to focus (you can do better I’m sure).

Once you know these two meta-skills about yourself, it doesn’t matter what you apply them to in your life, you will succeed.

  • Career development
  • Career switching
  • Your creative calling

You will be automated out of a job quickly if you don’t keep learning and and producing work on a consistent basis.

It sounds daunting when I put it like that but think of it this way: What’s more daunting, doing this work or being replaced by an app?

Another worthwhile endeavour to dedicate your learning and production toward your creative calling.

Your what now?

You know that deep hollowness that your job organising B2B events for dentists gives you? Yes you do, of course you do.

That’s call unfulfilment dear reader and it’s not great.

You shall continue to be miserable if you don’t pursue your creative calling, whatever that may be.

Maybe it’s starting a podcast, a newsletter, being a professional photographer or streaming your Pokemon collection. It’s all possible now.

But guess what : your ability to pursue that creative calling still depends on your ability to learn and to produce work against it.

One thing that AI can’t do very well right now is being a general creative thinker and that’s where the jobs of the future lie.

Point a camera at this, make money. That’s the internet.

But the main problems you will face when dedicating yourself to learning and production will be:

  1. Your impatience towards your learning
  2. Building your days and weeks around deliberate practice
  3. Managing your relationships

Let’s dig in a little.

Accepting you don’t know something makes you different that most.

Going and learning what you don’t know will keep you far ahead of your peers.

This is the difference between having a fixed-mindset and a growth-mindset.

Your ability to recognise that you don’t know something but that you’re going to learn and that it will take time is a tough mentality to balance.

Especially when you have the hell of a job behind you and the heaven of opportunity in front of you.

Designing a life around a discipline of deliberate practice isn’t necessarily sexy.

Going to bed on time to wake up early to focus isn’t a sexy lifestyle.

Saving your money to invest in a new creative adventure isn’t sexy.

Being dedicated to the long-term isn’t sexy.

But you know what is a sexy? Fulfilment.

If you think you’re boring, you’re judging yourself. Probably because you think others think your boring.

But why do you care being viewed as boring by people who aren’t even doing what you want to do anyway? Their opinions don’t matter to you. They’re the boring ones.

Other people won’t understand your new focus. They will try to stop you. They won’t understand your newfound change in priorities.

Be honest about your newfound commitment to bettering your life. Better yet, communicate that you want it not just for yourself but for the life you want to lead together with your partner.

Compromise. If your partner wants to watch TV with you in the evenings but you’d rather be in bed to wake-up early, perhaps agree on some nights of the week where you can do that.

Over-communicate on boundaries in a loving way. If you need 3-hours of uninterrupted focus-time, gently remind your partner of that the night before, an hour before etc.

Make sure to check-in if they need your attention on anything in particular before you drop off the radar too. You got this.

This is you not being sexy.

“But I don’t have the time to learn new skills and produce creatively. I’m already soul-sucked by being in this job.”

You can always find the time. I know you know this. Just start with small daily practices to build the habit. Aim to get 1% better every day. You can do it.

“I don’t have the energy to create new things. I’m already soul-sucked at my job.”

Once you’re producing and working for yourself, it will come to you. You will find the winds will pick up.

Your boat has just been pointed in the wrong direction for a while.

“My partner wants to me to hang out and watch TV with them when I know I should either be producing or in bed getting ready for the next day.”

I am not one for relationship advice but there are pillars to relationships maintenance. Those are commitment, trust, respect and communication. Perhaps you need to learn about these. See what I did there?

Who decides to make these stock images anyway?

Story time.

When I was full-time Apple Store employee, I had to live by a very common story that a lot of people live by.

I had to abide by the law of shift-working that would change on a weekly basis.

My schedule would look like this:

  • A 2–3 week outlook on my upcoming shift pattern
  • Each week would be different pattern
  • My days included weekends/holidays

Although it was a fun and challenging environment, I had decided it wasn’t the environment for me and began hustling on the side to become a growth marketer.

Since my weekly and daily schedules were always changing, it was very difficult to plan time for deep work, rest and recovery.

I came to the conclusion that since weekends and holidays were non-existent, I would treat them the same as every other day. I would still do the work, still read and learn and network every day regardless.

The challenge was with the changing shift patterns.

I couldn’t plan a consistent day or learning and focus if I was starting and ending work at different times.

But I recognised that although each day and each week had different start times, they would usually fall on the same times:

  • 08:30
  • 11:30
  • 13:30

So I designed my days around these 3 daily templates.

If I started at 08:30, I would only have time to read some marketing materials.

If I started at 13:30 I had plenty of time to learn, do some (free) client work and network online.

Slowly but surely the momentum built up on the side where I began building my knowledge, taking on clients and eventually replacing my income where the time came to leave Apple.

Through time-management, task-management and rigorous dedication to making it work I was able to navigate my way out through learning and producing work.

I went from a job that was

  • location dependant
  • time dependant

to a career of

  • location independent
  • time dependant

Now that I have solved my location puzzle, I get to work on the next phase of liberating my time.

If I can do this, you can too dear reader.

I wish this was my living room.

Okay, here are some resources to get your started on your journey. Or revision if you’re already well on your way.

Learning

🧑‍🎓 Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Consume this course and your mind will never be the same. You will know yourself a little or a lot better. Take lots and lots of notes.

Producing

Getting Things Done by David Allen is a methodology for how to structure… how you get things done really.

🎥 Watch this video. [10 mins]

It’s not a perfect methodology but it got me to where I am today.

ha ha ha everyone is learning and laughing…

If you master the ability to learn and produce, you master your ability to thrive in the modern world.

You’ll be adaptable, being able to flex with the times and what’s needed from you.

You will become a modern career ninja, outpacing and outperforming your peers as they flounder in theirs.

The worst case scenario is that you get to know yourself a little bit better.

And as far as I can tell, you’re fucking awesome. ✌️🖤

Hope this article helped you think more deeply about your relationship with technology. If you’re feeling stuck and creatively unfulfilled, drop me a message and we can chat about it.

Ludo ✌️🖤

👏 If you found this article useful, please consider holding the CLAPS button for as long as you like! It helps other people discover this article.👏

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Ludo De Angelis

I write about creative fulfilment, our relationship with technology and living a good life.