from consumer to creator – re-establishing the balance

1185527_traditional_lithuanian_folk_handicraft We are all ‘consumers’ in one form or another. Even the most rudimentary forms of society eat animals and plants, use the natural elements to fashion shelter and tools, or even change the landscape for agricultural purposes, all of which are a form of consumption. Even when we create, we also to some extent consume. So I don’t want you to think that this is an anti-consumer diatribe.

There is in our society however, an imbalance between consumption and the ability to be able to provide our basic needs for ourselves. Many of us are 100% dependent on others to fill all of our needs. There are many reasons for this, one of them being that basic skills are no longer being passed down from generation to generation as a matter of course. That doesn’t mean that we can’t easily learn new skills. The internet has made learning just about anything easy and free.

There are many reasons why you would want to invest some time in learning new skills:

You become more self-sufficient. Rather that relying on someone else to meet every one of your needs, you can take back your independence by developing the skills to meet some of your needs yourself.

It gets the grey matter going. Learning new skills develops new neural pathways in the brain as wells as strengthening existing ones. This process both assists and enhances our creativity and problem solving skills as well as keeps our minds working at their peak well into old age.

For the sense of accomplishment. It’s easy to just go out and buy something, but you get a special thrill when you make it yourself. A little bit of yourself goes into everything you create, build, prepare, craft, grow or make. When making gifts, you’re not only giving stuff, but you are also giving yourself and your most precious gift of all: your time.

When you make things yourself, you appreciate stuff more. You learn first hand to appreciate the skill, workmanship and materials that go into making those things.

The skills you learn are transferable. One of my hobbies is quilting. What skills can you learn when quilting and which ones are transferable say, to the workforce? Not only do you learn to sew but you also develop the manual dexterity needed for even stitching, colour and design theory, electronics, mechanics and maintenance of (fixing the sewing machine), patience, perseverance, time management, efficiency, money management (shopping for bargains and quilting on a budget) chemistry (fabric dying, for example), problem solving, geometry, trigonometry (who would have thought I would ever need trigonometry again, but I did when designing quilts with triangles), conversions (from inches to centimetres) how to measure and cut accurately…I’m sure there are other skills and I could go on and on, but you get the picture. While these might not be skills you write up on your resume, many would certainly be skills you use in the workforce.

Your hobbies bust boredom. No need for hours of expensive, passive entertainment when you have hobbies to keep you enthralled and occupied as wells as provide other benefits on completion.

Others benefit from your skills. Someone will share the enjoyment of the dinner you have cooked, the picture you painted, the musical instrument that you play. Your family will benefit from you managing the family budget, being able to fix a running toilet, or a bicycle tyre puncture. Someone may live because you learned CPR. You can also re-establish the tradition of passing these skills to your own children.

Your skills could save you money. I admit that many hobbies are probably going to cost you money, unless you focus on using recycled and reclaimed goods. However, learning to change the washer on a tap for instance, will not only save you a plumber’s bill, it will also reduce your water bill.

So what skills should you learn?

The possibilities are endless. However, I have included a list of possibilities. The list is certainly not prescriptive or exhaustive, just a few ideas to inspire you.

In the kitchen

Baking bread

Making yoghurt

Making a curry paste

Making meringue

Preserving fruit

Making jam and chutneys

Home brewing

Around the house

Changing a tap washer

Repairing a fuse

Making soap

Making laundry soap

Ironing

Folding fitted sheets

Repairing a screen door

Hanging the washing

Reading the electricity metre

Shopping for bargains

Sewing on a button

Adjusting a hem

In the garden

Collecting seeds

Taking cuttings

Transplanting plants

Designing a garden

Building a water feature

Building a compost heap

On the computer

Using Excel

Editing Photos

Desktop publishing

Computer programming

Defragging your hard drive

Backing up your files

Building a website

Craft and hobbies

Sewing

Quilting

Knitting

Crocheting

Woodworking

Painting

Drawing

Sculpture

Pottery

Weaving

Basketry

Welding

Building electrical circuits

Playing scrabble

Marhjong

learning to play the guitar

DIY

Painting

Hanging wallpaper

Laying tiles

Laying Paving

Changing the car’s oil filter

Changing a tyre

Using a drill

Repairing a puncture

Health and Fitness

Learning CPR

Taking a first aid course

Meditation

Yoga

Boxing

Pilates

Tai Chi

Salsa Dancing

Learning a new sport

Surfing

Swimming

Personal finance 

Building a budget

Tracking your finances

Investing in shares

Saving money

Basic accounting principles

Personal Development

Planning a routine

Letter Writing

Public Speaking

Learn a foreign language

Speed reading

Note taking

How to tie a tie

Researching

Creative thinking and problem solving

Critical reading

Algebra

Out and about

Learn how to pitch a tent

Lighting a fire

Orienteering

Identifying bush tucker

Tying knots

Identifying local flora and fauna

 

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