These are the 5 most valuable skills to learn in 2022, says futurist—and where to find free online courses

Business

While 2022 may throw a few curveballs, the beginning of the new year is always a perfect time to focus on career growth.

According to the Department of Labor, the economy is rebounding and some industries have recovered their job losses from the early days of the pandemic.

As a futurist and business strategist who's trained thousands of executives to navigate booming markets, I've identified five skills that can make you an especially valuable professional in 2022 — and free online courses that teach them.

1. Problem-solving

In the future, it will pay to think critically and creatively about your work — and to add unique skills, experiences and connections to your professional toolkit.

Your efforts to exist outside-the-box will not only help you come up with novel solutions, but will give you the tools to communicate that you are capable of solving new and exciting problems.

For example, time spent analyzing a different kind of business or connecting with folks in a different industry may help you find new ways to think about a problem or new tools for your team to use. That's what employers — and customers — are looking for in a rapidly changing market.

Recommended free course: Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success

Highlights: Learn how to pick a type of brainstorming — alphabet brainstorming, grid brainstorming, morphological chart — to apply to a challenge.

2. Strategic planning

Futurists don't predict the future. We identify trends in society or a market and consider the impact that these trends might have.

By using "what if" scenarios to role-play different strategies and their outcomes, we help people determine which strategic direction to take — and plot alternate strategies in case of a sudden, unexpected turn in the future.

You can apply that same technique to your own career or business. Learning how to consider the different directions that your industry or career path may take in the future can help you intentionally map your future moves, come up with a plan B, and protect yourself against uncertainty.

Recommended Free Course: Strategic Planning Skills

Highlights: Learn how to create a compelling mission, gather key business intelligence and assess potential opportunities to chart a winning course forward.

3. Decision-making

We will all be called on to make fast and impactful choices in 2022. This is true even if we don't have the same level of information or the time to plan as we did in the pre-Covid era.

Feeling unqualified to do that? Join the club: Making mistakes was the biggest fear in the workplace even before the pandemic.

Ninety-nine percent of leadership is a willingness to keep making decisions. Coach yourself on how to exercise good judgement and trust your instincts, and you'll stand out from those who are too nervous to be decisive.

Recommended Free Course: Critical Thinking for Better Judgment and Decision Making

Highlights: Learn how to absorb and rationally analyze data in the face of uncertainty.

4. Listening

A recent study published by McKinsey & Company found that companies who scored in the study's top-quartile for ethnic or cultural diversity on executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

People who will achieve business success in 2022 and beyond will know how to draw on a wide range of talents, perspectives and skills. That requires the ability to really listen to other people and their opinions.

Recommended Free Course: How to Listen

Highlights: Learn how to gather insights from others and deepen connections through active listening.

5. Logistics

If your day-to-day schedule looks like controlled chaos, you're not alone — and you may need to mentally prepare for 2022.

Deadlines are getting tighter and job responsibilities are getting greater. In the next few years, you'll be called upon to think like a project manager, even if that just means finding more effective ways to cram in after-school activities with your kids on top of a hectic remote work schedule.

The secret to success here is mastering the art of logistics. If you can manage to get to grandma's house this year for the holidays — through crowded airports, travel restrictions and all — you've got what it takes to efficiently prioritize your time and other resources.

Recommended Free Course: Introduction to Project Management

Highlights: Learn how to apply the fundamentals of project management to your work and life.

Scott Steinberg is a futurist, keynote speaker on business trends, and bestselling author of "Fast >> Forward," "Think Like a Futurist," "Make Change Work for You" and "Becoming Essential." He is also an award-winning strategic consultant and has been named by Fortune magazine as a leading expert on innovation.

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