Learning Skills By Necessity Or ‘You Should Do This If You Want Money For Things Like Pants and Apples.’


Are you experiencing a mid (or early) career crisis?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics “Americans average 10-14 jobs between the ages of 18 and 34 and 3-5 career changes by the age of 38.” That is a lot!

When you find yourself at a crossroads you typically take stock, evaluate your position and, based on your original plan or destination, you choose a direction that should take you where you’re going. That seems simple enough when all you’re doing is taking a walk through your new neighborhood. But what happens when you find yourself at a career crossroads?

Now, thanks to technological advancement, the way we work and approach our careers has changed, and chances are you or someone you know has had one of these moments:

You’ve worked in your industry for a number of years but suddenly realize that things do not get done the same way anymore. Marketing is no more the same; it’s inbound, then outbound; below the line not above the line now all the lines are running together.

Or maybe you’re just starting out with your freshly-minted degree only to get your first job and realize that not much of what you learned at school is of practical use. Perfect career crossroads. What to do now?

Sure, you could depend on your company to offer on-the-job training. But if you want to move up, or sideways, you just might have to be your own skills training facilitator.  Enter personal development and skill acquisition. Sounds like the smart, utterly millennial thing to do. Teach yourself photoshop, HTML, that new accounting software, whatever. The truth, however, is that sometimes, it’s easier said than done. Some skills are fun and easy to master, others not so much; either because they’re inherently tedious and boring or because well, you just suck at it. Trust me I’ve experienced the latter too many times.

Jon Acuff gave me a bit of hope when he said: “there are two ways to pick new skills; by necessity or by curiosity.”

I love the curiosity part! Learning new things (that I want to learn) is like breathing. It keeps me going and fueled up. When I’m in my learning-by-curiosity zone, I don’t need Netflix. Sometimes I don’t even need food.

I’m a writer. My living depends on creating and marketing content. I love to find new ways to tell a story. So learning new skills in this space is a piece of cake. Writing script for audio, recording and editing podcasts, writing for digital, dreaming up new ideas and bringing it to life with content? Sign me up.

Naturally, I spent so much time in the curiosity phase that I forgot that to get new opportunities and move with the times and the demands of the market, I had to learn by necessity, too. I needed the ‘should skills.’ Like Acuff says, “as in, I should do this if I want to have money for things like pants and apples.”


But do I really want pants and apples? Well, I realized that I really do need pants and apples, even if I don’t always feel like I want them. So, I began the journey to learning some ‘should skills.’ And because there are so many writers and content professionals out there, I looked at the current landscape through the window of my little curiosity fortress and realized that the bar has indeed been raised. The big opportunities were now for writers who could not only design but also rock at the big one—analytics! Yes. Because Big Data ain’t playing.

So there. There’s my ‘should skill.’ Numbers, graphs, charts, rows, and columns. There’s only one tiny problem. I hate those things!

I was that kid who drifted off into Mark Twain’s world when the Math teacher walked into class. I did the minimum just to get by. I couldn’t add, subtract, divide or multiply in my head, at the speed of light without a calculator. In short, these days my free time finds me at my computer, taking the Google Analytics course with eyes glazed over.

So who or what do I have to blame for this predicament in which I find myself? The wheel of progress of course. The thing keeps turning and won’t leave well enough alone. Haha. Joking! I won’t be the cog in the wheel of progress. I’ll survive. I’ll learn these skills even it’s the last thing I do. And at the rate I’m going with this course, it’s gearing up to be the very last thing I do. And I’m planning to live a very long life! *wink* I’ll let you know how it goes.

Can you relate? Are there any ‘should skills’ you know you should learn? Have you ever experienced a career crossroads? How did you make it work?


P.S. You should read Jon Acuff’s Do Over. Thank me later.


Remi Roy

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