There are those quintessential skills that we can all agree every human should have, including wilderness and survival skills. However, in this day and age, there are some things you should know how to do. This is another set of skills we should acquire in addition to basic survival skills. Don’t underestimate the importance of being prepared for an emergency.
54 Things You Should Know How to Do
In this list, you will find all the things you should know to be self-reliant in our information era, as well as emergency-related skills.
1. You should know how to start a fire without matches.
You never know when this might come in handy—fire is one of the most important elements for survival for a human being- providing warmth, light, and energy.
2. You should know basic survival skills.
Should you ever be stranded in a forest or forced to survive outside, you’d want to know the best places to get water, what you can and cannot eat in the wild, where to build a makeshift bed, how to catch a fish, how to correctly cross a river, how to keep your core body temperature high… and much more. Get a survival guide and begin learning.
3. You should know how to grow your own vegetables.
Even if you live in a city, you should make an effort to learn to grow your own food- including all kinds of vegetables, herbs, and fruits. It takes a lot of skill, experience, and time to make these plants yield valuable output- so if you’re interested in learning this- don’t waste another minute. You might need this skill one day.
4. You should know how to swim.
If you don’t know how to swim yet, you need to seriously consider learning. There are a number of emergency situations where you might need to swim in order to survive or help someone else in the water.
5. You should know how to change a tire.
It’s possible you get a flat while on a trip one day, with no access to a car repair place; perhaps even stranded in the middle of nowhere. What if no one on this trip knew how to change the tire? Changing a tire is something you can learn how to do in a matter of minutes that could save you lots of time and headaches on your next road trip.
6. You should know how to jump-start a car.
This isn’t as easy as it seems. If you watched your parents do this in the past but never learned for yourself, now’s your chance. Don’t be unprepared when the need for it arises. It’s very useful knowledge to have, and very common to need this skill one day.
7. You should know how to code.
Not knowing how to program will soon become synonymous with being illiterate. It doesn’t seem this way yet, but this age is coming. If you don’t know how to program, you’re merely consuming the whole world around you, which is programmed. It’s important to know how to navigate this new world by being able to tell the computer what to do. If you want to start empowering yourself, here are some resources.
8. You should know how to build a website.
Another issue of basic technological literacy. Everyone should have a website- whether it’s personal or for a business. If you don’t know the basics of building a website, you have to hire someone or buy a template. You are going to benefit a great deal from learning. It’s also a great way to earn side income.
9. You should know how to think critically and question the status quo.
With all this information at our fingertips, now more than ever, we need to be able to think for ourselves, question the current way of doing things, and be critical of all forms of media, government, and education.
10. You should know how to cook an egg (correctly!)
Too many people are ruining breakfast by mucking this up. C’mon people- it’s time to learn the right way of doing this. Runny or undercooked eggs are not only bad for your taste buds, but it could also increase your chances of getting salmonella.
11. You should know how to perform CPR.
Do you want to save a life? 70 percent of Americans feel helpless during a cardiac emergency, and here’s another surprising statistic- the life you save is most likely the life of someone you love because 4 out of 5 cardiac arrests occur at home.
12. You should know how to manage your time.
Time management is a precise art and science, and if you haven’t studied it yet, you should. Applying these principles of time management to your life can get you back precious hours you didn’t know you had, and completely eliminate much of your productivity-destroying behavior.
13. You should know how to dress properly.
First impressions are important. Dressing to impress means being tidy, up to date on fashion, looking as professional as you can, dressing for your body, and if you’re advanced, bringing some personality into it.
14. You should know how to approach and meet new people.
Even if you’re an introvert, it is important to have the ability to walk up to a new person and hold a nice conversation. Meeting people is a great way to learn new things, expand your network, and gain new opportunities in life.
15. You should know how to lift your own weight.
If you can lift your own weight, it also means you can lift a lot of things without having to rely on someone else. Having strength is always a handy trait to have and, in case of an emergency involving hanging off a ledge, you’ll be able to pull yourself out of trouble with ease.
16. You should know how to remember peoples’ names.
Most people are tired of that excuse that seems to glide off of so many people’s lips “I’m not good at remembering names…” Let’s stop making this excuse because a person’s name is the single most important thing you can possibly remember when you meet someone new. A good way to remember someone’s name is to say it at least twice during the conversation.
17. You should know how to give a toast in front of lots of people.
Public speaking is the number one fear in the world (ranking higher than the fear of death.) It’s a fear, but if you practice, it’s not that scary. Learning to say a few words in front of a large or small group is a huge asset that can be used in so many instances, professional and personal.
For example, you may need to give a toast at a wedding someday. Don’t you want to be prepared and make it awesome? Go to a local Toastmasters Club meeting and try it out.
18. You should know how to negotiate.
Good negotiation skills can save you a ton of money. These skills can also get you that raise at the job you’ve been dreaming about. If you know how to negotiate properly, it means you’re holding all the cards and you’re prepared to battle it out.
19. You should know how to detect a lie.
Learning to detect when someone is lying to you seems like a sneaky thing to do, but you’d be surprised how handy it could become, especially if you’re raising children, or in charge of a huge team. It gives you the chance to consider all possibilities in a relationship. Did you know 91 percent of humans lie on a regular basis at work and at home, and you’ve lied to about 2 or 3 times in a ten-minute conversation? Yeah. Food for thought.
20. You should know how to shut up and listen genuinely.
If you learn to do this well, you will be loved and admired, and you will understand people better. It can improve relationships drastically, and ultimately make you a more compassionate person.
21. You should know how to tell a good story.
It sucks being the one person around the campfire who has nothing to offer, doesn’t it? Learn how to tell a good story that will have people using their imaginations again. When the power goes out or there’s no cell phone service available, you’ll be a valuable source of entertainment to everyone.
22. You should know how to defend yourself against single and multiple assailants.
Why? Learning self-defense makes you more aware of your surroundings, first of all. You also stop taking physical confrontations for granted. You’re more likely able to avoid a fight effectively if you’ve learned the art of self-defense in the first place.
23. You should know how to use a credit card correctly.
It’s not cash…too many Americans use their credit cards irresponsibly, and in doing so, spend much more money on items than they are actually worth, pay tons of fees, and don’t have the ability to reap the many benefits of the cards. Credit card balances are supposed to be paid in full every month and they are not supposed to allow you to live beyond your means.
24. You should know how to invest in the stock market.
It’s not as difficult as you might think. Educate yourself! Money does grow if you know how to invest it correctly. You really have no excuse to not invest. There are a number of ways to invest by diversifying your portfolio automatically and manually through index or life cycle funds. Investing in the stock market is not about picking stocks, as Ramit Sethi loves to point out.
25. You should know how to speak at least one or two languages besides English.
Did you know that 75% of the world does not speak English? That’s a lot of people you won’t be able to communicate with if you happen to be in an area where English isn’t their first language. Expand your horizons and make an effort to communicate with the rest of the world.
26. You should know how to make money (without a job).
Jobs and paychecks are not the only way to earn money. There are many entrepreneurs out there who know this, but there are just as many people who are wondering how it’s done while slaving away at jobs.
There is another way, and it’s not magic or the lottery. It’s determination, investing in your own education, and lots of sweat. And it’s definitely possible.
Instead of plopping down in front of the TV after work, set some time aside to learn something and build up your educational and entrepreneurial skills.
27. You should know how to manage your personal finances.
This means knowing how to create a budget, knowing how to save money, automate your income, and learning to invest and pay yourself first, before paying all your bills.
28. You should know how to draw.
In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink talks about the importance of flexing our “right-brain” muscles, by learning creative skills such as drawing. Learning to draw will actually improve leadership ability in a person, and enhance and develop traits like empathy, inventiveness, and big-picture thinking.
29. You should know how to be a respectful house guest.
You never know when you might need to accept the hospitality of another human being. Know the proper etiquette of being a house guest. A great way to do this is by inviting guests into your own home. You’ll quickly learn (the hard way) what behavior is highly questionable and disrespectful if your guest is not practicing proper etiquette.
30. You should know how to keep your computer secure.
With all the information security threats and identity theft these days, we all want to make sure our computer is secure, our personal data is private (as much as possible), and our firewalls are up. Do you know how to set yours up? This is basic computer literacy and probably one of the more important things to be aware of.
31. You should know how to navigate with a map and compass (without a GPS).
Not to mention- learn to find the north star, learn to get your east/west bearings from the sun… what if you’re on a trip and your GPS system fails you?
32. You should know how to sew.
Basic sewing skills—such as sewing a button back onto a coat the right way, or fixing a loose shirt sleeve- will save you a few extra trips to the shopping mall. Advanced sewing skills also improve self-confidence (the knowledge you can mend everyday items), promotes focus (because it requires physical and mental concentration), and teaches persistence (most sewing projects take a considerable amount of time).
33. You should know how to travel hack.
Once you learn this skill, you will never want to pay for a plane ticket ever again. Just type “travel hacking” into your search engine and let the fun begin.
34. You should know how to buy a car without getting ripped off.
If you don’t know the proper method of buying a car (especially a used car), you will get ripped off. Do you want to get ripped off? I thought so. Now go learn.
35. You should know how to be happy.
There is a method to this, it’s not an automatically occurring thing- people who are genuinely happy are happy despite their circumstances, not the other way around.
36. You should know how to fix a bike flat.
Most people like to ride bikes. Most people don’t know how to fix a bike flat. If it happens to you that you get a bike flat, and you don’t know how to fix it, you will be walking home carrying a heavy bike. Ouch.
37. You should know how to have a conversation with someone of any age.
It’s a sign of true maturity and humanity when a person can hold a quality conversation with a 5-year-old or a 92-year-old person without flinching. You will also learn so much about life if you do this regularly.
38. You should know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
People who drive a stick shift (manual transmission) cars understand their car engines better than people who drive automatic transmission vehicles.
Manual transmission vehicles are more energy-efficient than automatic transmission vehicles. They are also more responsive to braking and accelerating, and they are safer because of this higher level of control from the driver. A more informed and advanced driver is also a safer driver.
Finally, many parts of the world drive manual transmission cars more than automatic cars, and you may need to know how to drive one at some point in your life!
39. You should know how to back up your data.
We accumulate so much digital data these days! In addition to being able to do some spring cleaning and organization of your data, you should have a clear system in place for regularly backing up your data- whether it’s to a cloud storage location or your own physical external hard drives. Hardware can break (and of course so can software) and having an extra copy of all your data is pretty essential these days.
40. You should know how to say “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.”
You know who you are! Being able to admit your faults once in a while takes effort, practice, and a change of attitude. It can repair broken relationships, heal scars, and bring the conversation back to the important things in life.
41. You should know how to sing or play an instrument.
Being able to read music, appreciate all forms of music genres and make music yourself- develops your brain and enriches your life. For example, learning how to play the guitar promotes well-being.
42. You should know how to ask for help.
It takes guts to do this, and at some point in everyone’s life, they will need some help from somebody.
43. You should know the basics of how to repair a car.
I am always amazed at how the guys from Top Gear (the original, British version) can fix a broken-down car in the middle of driving through some crazy salt flats, or the desert.
How useful would it be if we could all understand the basic workings of a car, diagnose the problem, and fix our own cars instead of spending hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars at the car repair shop, trying to describe the weird sound the car is making to the mechanics.
44. You should know how to control your temper.
Holding onto anger, as well as letting anger control your actions usually does more harm to you than good. Learn to let the anger dissipate before reacting. Many angry emails were regrettably sent because of the inability to control our tempers and let the passion die down a bit first.
45. You should know how to show gratitude, and write a thank-you note.
If you haven’t written a thank you note yet, you need to start.
For every professional (and even personal) relationship where one or both of the people have benefitted or learned something, a thank you note is in order. The habit of sending out thank you notes to people is a great way to gain respect, and trust, and stand out from the crowd.
Whether it’s for the person who interviewed you for a new job, a trusted mentor, an old boss, or even your own parents- a thank you note goes a very long way. It allows you to practice gratitude in your own life, and it also makes the day of another person, giving them (and you) a chance to reflect on your relationship and think of the positive outcomes of knowing one another.
46. You should know how to parallel park.
Although the driving tests all seem to require this skill, many people with driver’s licenses mysteriously don’t know how to do this. If you live in the city, please learn how to do this correctly without nicking the bumpers of the other cars!
47. You should know how to write professionally.
There are many, many reasons why you should know how to write professionally, from the basic cover letter to the customer service email. Writing professionally will allow your message to be clear and your voice to be respected, even when you’re not speaking face to face.
48. You should know how to perform basic first aid.
Someone you care about or even you could get hurt and when you need to disinfect and dress a wound, you’re gonna need to know how to do it right. Sometimes there’s no time to wait for the doctors.
49. You should know how to put together a basic emergency preparedness kit.
Better yet, don’t just know how to put one together, actually put one together and have it ready. There’s no substitute for being well prepared.
50. You should know how to give a compliment.
Giving a compliment the right way means paying attention to the details, focusing on the good in others, and being very specific. A generalization doesn’t go very far as a compliment. Learn to compliment others by focusing on what makes the other person truly special.
51. You should know the correct way to respond to criticism.
Learn this skill to avoid looking defensive, unprepared, and immature. Criticism is a good thing (most of the time), and it can help you improve and develop yourself if you can learn how to take it objectively and reflect on yourself and your work.
52. You should know how to prepare and roast a turkey or chicken.
Or if you’re vegan- a tofurky. You’re probably going to be in charge of this at some point in your life during the holidays.
53. You should know how to use Google efficiently.
Stop wasting precious time by using google incorrectly. Learn to be precise and use the built-in tools that google already comes with. Find exactly what you need using google more efficiently and more accurately. You can learn this here.
54. You should know how to crowd-source opinions from your social networks.
Where do you think I got most of the ideas for this article? Yes, my facebook.
Besides Google, our social networks are where we can always find inspiring ideas and a variety of opinions on certain topics. Make good use of your social networks!
So here you go 54 things that you should know to make yourself more equipped, so you can handle things smarter in different life situations.
Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/IIXJe_mx9Cg via Angela Compagnone