What Skills to Master Next?

By RealSociology | Retire by 50 | 11 Aug 2020

Now I'm my late 40s, I'm looking to pick up a few new skills to take me through the next 40 years or so. Got to keep learning!

I generally enjoy learning new skills, and there's plenty of skills I'd like to develop - to list just a few, and in no particular order, and without any real categorical thought:

  • coding
  • drawing
  • data science
  • Permaculture
  • eco-building
  • electronics
  • plumbing
  • Tai Chi
  • drumming
  • I could go on, but they're some of the main ones.

I've got the time and the will to improve all of these, but I don't have enough to time to Master all of them, and I really want to focus on just one or two skills for the next 3-5 years to 'Master' - so I can use them effectively, maybe even make some dollar dollar out of said skills, and eventually pass them on.

What skills to learn?

Given that it probably takes a good year of one's waking life to master anything, that's 3 years at 8 hours a day, so it's worth getting the decision right.

I've boiled down the list of factors that will determine my choice to three:

  1. Redundancy - how long until the skill becomes useless? I don't want to spend three years learning something that AI will be able to do better than me in five years!
  2. Personal affinity - how suited am I too it? I know what my strengths are, I know what I'm hopeless at, I should pick something that fits what I'm already good at, something I enjoy and something that fits my ethics.
  3. Economic return - This partly a function of 1 and 2, but also down to 'utility' - what's the market for the skill, which depends on both demand and supply (other people with the skill).

Another consideration is how specialist I'd need/ want to go for the skill to be useful. Some of the skills I'm considering might start off very general (Permaculture) for example, but within that I might decide to specialise (compost building) - this is such a complex issue that I'm kind of keeping it in mind while thinking all of this through rather than writing about it, for now. It's too difficult ATM to compare this aspect for something like 'Permaculture' and 'coding' for example. I just cant' do it!


I've ruled out learning a number of 'heavier' skills because of fear of this, and the need to just keep on training perpetually. I was seriously looking at doing an MSC in data analysis for social policy, but ruled it out because I think it will be redundant in five years - Python programmers will be employed to do it, that's if Python itself isn't redundant by then, and I'm sure if I dedicated 5 years to learning that, I'd be having to constantly adapt and learn and feel like I'm always behind.

In contrast, if I dedicated ten years to learning Tai Chi, or even networked my way into FWBO I could be teaching in the meditative disciplines within 10 years, there'd be very little or no money in it, but such skills are the closest thing timeless there is.


I've messed about with coding, but my brain and manner aren't really wired for it. I still want to learn a bit more, but I've put this into the 'hobbies category' for now - I might return to it in my late 50s.

I also ruled out retraining as a plumber or electrician for the same reason, but this time physical - I can't imagine my 50 year old body coping with all the bending down and tight nooks and crannies and awkward movements!

Economic return

Learning to code would be the highest return, but I just don't think it's for me - especially when you factor in the competition, same with trades - that's a young man's game, so I'm not so sure my res killing efforts are going to yield me any signficant money, it's kind of lucky that I don't need too much!


I've definitely hit on this as the field I'd most like to skill up in - in fact I've long wanted to buy myself some land and live off-grid, and that's the long term plan after all. It fits well:

  • I can't see permaculture skills becoming redundant any time soon, if anything they should become more relevant in the future, with the economic downturn coming and most people hell-bent on killing the planet.
  • I've got an affinity for it - I used to love my allotment, and this is just an upscaled version, I know I like it!
  • AND there is some possible revenue in it, through teaching on Permaculture courses, maybe.

Finally, Permaculture is a very general area, so there's plenty of scope to specialize down in the general field - I'm quite interested in Aquaponics and learning more about off-grid energy, but I think my real niche might just end up being in natural burials, we all die, after all, but more of that sort of thing in a future post.

Originally Posted Using LeoFinance

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Blogging about Sociology and Extreme Early Retirement

Retire by 50
Retire by 50

In the summer of 2014, when I turned 41, I set myself the goal of retiring from paid-work by the age of 52. This blog charts my own strategy and progress, and explores different theories of financial independence and 'extreme early retirement'. It also provides the odd tip on how you might also retire early!

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