Nobody comes into this world as a life ninja master. But certain skills you learn as you go set the stage for the confidence, connection, and balance it takes to make it to the top. By the time you hit the big 4-0, you should feel comfy with all of the following tasks.

1. Managing your budget

Why you need it: The ability to manage a personal or professional budget ultimately means you have more ability to grow your wealth and maintain your autonomy. It can mean stability for you or your family, as well as for whatever ventures you want to dive into. More stability means less stress and the ability to give back in ways that build your sense of connection and worth.

How to nail it:

  • Commit to purchase and cash flow tracking.
  • Create financial routines to stabilize spending.
  • Pay yourself first (treat savings and emergency and retirement funds like monthly expenses).
  • Share and communicate about financial responsibilities.
  • Live below your means.
  • Speak with a financial adviser (or even a money-savvy friend) when faced with big financial decisions.

2. Negotiating

Why you need it: Negotiation helps you see others' points of view and better find common ground, even as it ups the odds you'll likely get a little more for yourself or your business. It prevents good relationships and establishments you rely on from breaking down.

How to nail it:

  • Do your research ahead of time and come armed with facts and figures.
  • Present what you say in terms of how it is going to benefit the other party.
  • Stay calm and civil, taking breaks to cool off and think rationally as necessary before you respond.
  • Make offers instead of demands.
  • Identify your values and be clear about them.

3. Saying no

Why you need it: Saying yes to everyone can lead to burnout. At the same time, it robs you of both a clear understanding of who you are and opportunities to pursue other things you want to do.

How to nail it:

  • Be polite but to the point.
  • Offer a rationale for why you are declining so people can make better, more reasonable requests in the future.
  • Focus on what you're saying yes to by refusing (know the opportunity cost).

4. Managing your time

Why you need it: If you can't manage your time, finishing projects and keeping your commitments for greater trust become difficult. Good time management means you won't take on more than you can handle or waste money.

How to nail it:

  • Set clear goals.
  • Eliminate as many distractions as possible.
  • Estimate how long it will take you for a task and then monitor how long it actually takes. Become aware of your typical time distortion and adjust for it.
  • Use technology (e.g., auto reminders) to keep you on track.
  • Enlist the help of others to keep you accountable when possible.

5. Cooking

Why you need it: Cooking on your own puts you in control of what goes into your body, increasing the odds of better health and control of medical conditions. It's often more cost effective, and because food is the highest expense people usually have next to housing, the lower bill can make a huge difference in your ability to do more of what you want. It also provides a platform for social interaction and reinforces an understanding of basic scientific/chemistry/mathematical concepts that could transfer into your work.

How to nail it:

  • Invest in higher-quality, more durable utensils/pans (cast iron is great!). They'll last longer, offer more functionality, and give more consistent results.
  • Start small with simple habits, such as setting the table each day, and get used to preparing snacks and meals that don't require heating. Slowly increase the complexity of the recipes you try.
  • Have a plan. Make sure everything is stocked and ready ahead of time, and don't buy more than you need.
  • Be willing to make smaller batches and try many times, playing around with different ingredients and techniques.
  • Watch others go through the processes you need, whether it's in person or online.
  • Set your work area up in logical order (e.g., ingredients, cutting board, pot, stove) so you can move fast without being inhibited.

6. Starting (and ending) friendships

Why you need it: Friends can support you through even the worst, having a positive influence on both physical and mental health. But if a relationship becomes toxic, valuing yourself enough to get out ensures you stay safe and continue to success.

How to nail it:

  • Get comfortable asking open-ended questions.
  • Purposely but politely and reasonably put yourself in the paths of others you want to know.
  • Don't wait for others to make the first move. Follow up.
  • Be honest about what you need or what your goals are.
  • Be specific about problems in the relationship.

7. Marketing yourself

Why you need it: Promoting yourself can connect you with opportunity, be it a new friend or a fabulous new career. It keeps you aware of both your strengths and weaknesses, which is essential to further self-development.

How to nail it:

  • Skip the use of labels (e.g., "I'm a ----") in favor of summarizing what you do, for whom, and how.
  • Make it easy for others to connect with you in both hard copy and digital form.
  • Think about common concerns others might have. Come up with a respectful response for each that shows you've also considered those points and have a plan to address them.
  • Find out what others want, need, or already have done through casual conversation. Then talk about your skills and expertise in terms of how they might solve a problem for the other person.
  • Speak from your heart and don't overpromise.