7 Amazing skills you can pick up in less than a year

Post retirement, it’s not unusual for people to find themselves with a little too much time on their hands. But rather than complain about being bored, why not take it as an opportunity to master a new skill? Here’s a little inspiration to get you started…

Learn a new language

Endlessly fascinating, learning a new language unlocks access to an entirely new culture. And if you commit yourself to the cause, it’s possible to become fluent in less than a year. There are so many amazing resources out there, from online lessons like Rosetta Stone to official university courses. Once you can hold a conversation, why not treat yourself to a holiday? Cultural enrichment is a great excuse to travel to places like Italy, Spain, France and beyond. Plus, cognitive studies show that the brains of bilingual people operate on a different level to their English-only counterparts. Amazing!

Digital photography

If you’re a creative kind of person, mastering the art of digital photography could be a fulfilling way to flex your imagination. Sign up for an online course, or pay a little more for face-to-face lessons. Another option is embracing the sharing community and using platforms like Gumtree to track down a coach. You’ll soon be snapping family portraits, gorgeous landscapes, weddings and everything in-between. Just don’t forget to print your digital snaps, and turn them into hard copy albums for everyone to enjoy.

Play the piano

pexels-photo-239856Yes, it calls for a certain level of dedication and practice. But tinkling the ivories has some incredible benefits. And we’re not just talking about the fact that it’s a great way to pass the time. Studies show that playing the piano can increase cognitive developments, raise IQ, improve hand-eye coordination and even alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. Play what you love, whether it’s Bach and Beethoven or jazz songs and Disney classics.

Grow your own kitchen garden

Rewarding and enriching, nurturing your green thumb is about more than just enjoying your homegrown crops. Experts assert that horticulture therapy is a bona fide way to soothe the mind, body and soul. Getting down and dirty in the garden can even reduce your levels of cortisol, the hormone that causes stress. Plus, you can be 100% organic, and know exactly what you’re eating and where it came from. Do some research online, sign up for a local gardening group or head to the library and check out a few books. No excuses if you live in an apartment or have a pint-sized garden. ‘No dig’ container gardens are just as exciting and force you to get creative.

Paint with watercolours

pexels-photo-1Ever gazed at a modern masterpiece and thought you could have done it yourself? Well, watercolours aren’t quite as forgiving. Learning to paint can be a challenge, but with the right training and tools you can develop genuine skills. As well as getting to know your inner Monet, painting with watercolours can also be extremely relaxing and meditative. Artists slip into a kind of trance, which makes it a fantastic way to destress. Remember to save some of your early work, and compare it to the masterpieces you’re creating this time next year. Trust us, you’ll be amazed at your progress!

Woodwork and carpentry

From handcrafting traditional toys for the grandkids to shaping a bespoke coffee table, mastering the art of woodwork is incredibly gratifying. There’s just something about working with your hands that brings a sense of deep relaxation. Not to mention a glowing feeling of accomplishment. You’ll just need to invest in the basic tools, and find an empty space to set up your studio.

pexels-photo-209948Get your dancing shoes on

Just because you’re not twenty something anymore it doesn’t mean you can’t rekindle the love with your dancing shoes. There are so many styles to try out, from high energy swing and retro rock ‘n’ roll to classic ballroom and sexy salsa. Rope in a friend of partner, or just turn up solo. Groups are wonderfully social, and partners rotate anyway so it’s never an issue pairing up.

Have you mastered a skill in less than a year? We’d love to hear about it!