Bucket lists are all the rage. Take a quick look around online and you’ll find an inordinate number of lists created by people who want to tell you what you should be doing before you die. We’re going to add another, but wanted to avoid the usual clichés – swim with dolphins, parachute from a plane, see the seven wonders because A) Yawn and B) most of these are extremely expensive and time consuming. We’ve an alternative take that offers suggestions for things everyone can do at any time, involving little or no expense and just a smidgeon of willpower.
1. Learn a martial art (even if only one lesson)
Chances are that if you’re a real man you’ve watched one or two martial arts films, or at the very least fantasised about kicking ass in the style of Bruce Lee, Jet Li or Tommy Lee, though in the latter case it’s more of an assault on the ears. Coming to the aid of a friend or loved one in a whirling frenzy of controlled fury is largely the stuff of action movie lore however, and getting good enough at any martial art to legitimately win a street fight without a huge slice of luck takes years of dedicated training. You’re not that patient, but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t give it a try. Any martial arts establishment worth its salt offers a free first lesson to newcomers, and with no shortage of institutions for a whole range of disciplines around the world, there’s no harm in taking them up on their offer.
2. Design clothes (and wear them)
Apparently modern-day metrosexuals are allowed to dip into the world of the fairer sex by doing things like take a pride in their appearance and co-ordinate their clothes. We’re not convinced. Being creative, on the other hand, is the staple diet of all fulfilled ambition, so why not design an item of clothing yourself, and wear it? We’re not talking rent-a-print t-shirts, we’re talking creative designs with a bit of flair, or you could always go for something like mi Adidas or NikeiD, services that let you take one of a range of shoes and trainers and customise the hell out of them to create the design you always wanted, and for an unusually reasonable price.
3. Learn a language (if only the basics)
If you were born in a country where English is the first language, chances are you’ve managed to get through most of your life without the lack of a second language holding you back. Deep down you know how inherently lazy this is, and what with a whole smorgasboard of language learning tools available both online and in local venues you really should have learning the basics of “a” language somewhere on your list. Do yourself a favour and pick one that you can practice with real speakers, whether this be based on a popular holiday destination or perhaps one that a family member or friend knows – it’s far more effective to speak to real people than just read books and learn theory.
4. Spend a day on your own in a foreign country that doesn’t speak your language
Once you’ve done this, the more adventurous may want to put it to the test in the best way possible – throw yourself in at the deep end. Next time you’re on holiday in a foreign country where every other person doesn’t speak your mother tongue, plan a day trip yourself. Not one that’s organised by the hotel to send you to all the most tourist-infested places – get off the beaten track and see how you do. A few rules of thumb – take a phrasebook and a smartphone with some useful apps, avoid crime-ridden slums and don’t stick out like Johnny Foreigner by waving a map and a camera around.
5. Learn how to kill your own food (and eat it)
This might be a bit tricky unless you live in an area where hunting is a national pastime, but there are very few things as manly as killing your own food and eating it, so it deserves a place on this list. We’d never advocate hunting for fun, or “sport” as some people like to call it, but if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to kill to eat, it can’t hurt to be prepared. There are plenty of courses around that’ll teach you how to track, kill, skin and eat various animals, and even if you don’t end up using what you’ve learnt, it’s a big tick in the “man box” nonetheless. Which brings us to:
6. Start a fire
Inherently more humane, anyone can learn to start a fire without anything else getting hurt, though there may well be a few singed fingers. It’s primal, it’s largely pointless in this day and age and there’s very little chance you’ll use it, but as a basic skill it’s pure, it’s heroic and you never know, one day it might save your life. Again, survival courses can walk you through the basics, but provided you’re adult enough to be sensible about it, there’s nothing from stopping you practicing in the garden using one of the myriad of guides available online.
7. Donate when at your most needy
Hopefully most people reading this would claim to have donated money at one time or another, even if it’s just tossing some loose change at the local hobo. This is usually pretty easy because most people (quite understandably) give a little of what they can afford at a time they can afford it. To truly understand what it means to be charitable though, why not give a little more than you can afford at a time when things are tough for you? It’ll give you a better idea of how it feels to be needy, and a warmer glow inside.
8. Question everything
The great George Carlin once said “Don’t just teach your children how to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything”. Everyone has an old wives tale or superstition at their fingertips – “feed a fever, starve a cold”, “carrots improve your eyesight”, “cracking your knuckles give you arthritis” – many probably heard these from their parents, others may have even passed them on themselves, but this won’t do. We live in 2015, with the wonder of Google at our fingertips, so if there’s something you genuinely believe in but you’re not sure why, look it up! Sometimes it may even be true.
9. Learn basic car skills
We’re not talking about driving, we’re talking about fixing. If you don’t know how to change a tyre or jump-start a car, go and learn it immediately. If you don’t know what the various parts of your engine are called, why that black smoke is coming out of the exhaust or how to work out why it won’t start, then you’re not alone. But this needn’t be the case – learning the basics isn’t that difficult with a bit of research or perhaps a course, and even if you can’t fix the car, at least you should be able to diagnose it. Roadside assistance won’t be happy about it but hell, it’s not your job to put food on their table.
10. Kick a habit
Humans are habit-forming creatures, we’re just built that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t kick one once in a while – and it doesn’t have to be big. Pick something that you acknowledge as a habit, preferably something that annoys other people, and make a conscious effort to eliminate it from your life. If nothing else, it’ll teach you that you’re strong enough to enforce a change, and that can only lead to better things.
11. Face a fear
Everyone’s scared of something, even if it’s as obvious as being eaten by a Great White Shark or being kicked in the junk by a small girl that runs off before you can exact revenge. If there’s something a bit more manageable on your list of uncomfortable situations, like heights, water, rollercoasters or rats, why not confront that fear head on? Like kicking a habit, it should help you feel a sense of accomplishment that you never knew you could achieve.
12. Contact an old friend
Friendships are a dime a dozen when you’re young, full of beans and devoid of responsibilities, but as life kicks in and the inevitable rigours of holding down a job/family/gambling addiction strip you of your spare time, you’ll likely have whittled down that extensive list of compadres to a handful who can still stand your company. For most people “disengaging” friendships is more due to a lack of effort than a lack of physical time, so if you do know the whereabouts of an old buddy, why not get in touch to see how they’re doing? And no, this doesn’t mean you can start re-stalking your ex-girlfriend.
13. Master a meal
Most modern men should know how to cook at least one fancy meal. It’s all well and good whipping up a mean scrambled eggs on toast or spaghetti bolognese, but this won’t really impress anyone outside your Grandma, who’s only pretending to like it because she’s glad you found the time to visit. Mastering one fairly difficult meal (ideally three courses) should be your real target, and once you’ve sourced the appropriate recipes, all it takes is practise.
14. Choose a wine
You’ll probably need a nice wine as well – very few things impress a classy lady better than a man who can at least pretend to know how to pick a good bottle. Nobody’s asking you to be a pretentious asshole about it either, just have an idea of what types of wines go best with what foods, and if at all possible get to know a few that you know you’ll be able to get hold of. Even if you’re not a big wine fan yourself, turning up to a sophisticated soirée with a bottle that raises eyebrows will score you big points.
15. Read a classic novel/watch a classic film
Class literature=boring. Old black and white films that “changed cinema forever”=boring. Everybody knows this, and yet for some reason intellectual types can’t stop blathering on about how book ‘x’ or movie ‘y’ is so poignantly thought-provoking it changed them in a deep, meaningful way. But, it’s not good to criticise unless you’re in a position to do so, so why not take a look at one of these classic works to get a better idea of why, exactly, it floats their boat.
Meditation – not just for girls and hippies any more. Available in many forms, learning how to meditate on some level, even if it just means breathing in and out a lot, has been proven time and time again to have a beneficial impact on individuals, helping them to remain calm in the face of adversity, make better decisions and lead a happier life. NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and Mindfulness are two techniques that have been getting increasing press in recent times, and with plenty of literature around on both, it couldn’t hurt to give one a try.
17. Teach a child something
Most people can probably remember a point in their life when they were taught something useful for the first time, and probably also the person who taught them. This can be a cool thing to be responsible for – an easy way to do the nine-times-table on your fingers, how to fix a wobbly table, what to do if a dog bites your leg and won’t let go – any piece of advice, however meagre, that stays with you forever. You need to be the cool father/uncle/friend to deliver that particular pearl. Let’s be responsible though – nobody needs to be remembered as the crazy guy that taught little Jilly how much fun can be had with a lighter and some hairspray.
18. Forgive someone for something big
If you manage to get through life without hurting or upsetting someone you care about in a fairly major way, you’ve done very well, and are almost certainly in the minority. Everyone’s made mistakes and in most cases, provided there’s genuine remorse, people deserve a chance to be forgiven. So if you’ve held a grudge against someone for longer than you care to admit, get in touch and let them know that you’re not mad anymore.
19. Change your lifestyle for one week
Getting stuck in a rut is something that nobody would volunteer to do, but it’s a situation most of us have found ourselves in at some point. Getting out of it becomes progressively harder as time goes on, but whether or not you truly want to make a change, taking a “week off” from the norm could at least provide a bit of a break from a routine. So take every repetitious thing you do, from a typical route to work, the same packed lunch every day or a Friday night ritual and switch it for something else. Keep it up for a week and then go back to your old routine. Unless, of course, you happen to prefer some of the other options.
20. Live on £10 for one week
Freganism, the art of “reclaiming and eating food that has been discarded” has been the subject of a number of documentaries, largely because watching strange, oily people sift through bins seems to make good reality TV. But you needn’t resort to full-on hobo to eat cheap for a week – we’re challenging you to do it on a tenner, or $17, if you will. Why would you do this exactly? Well you might be broke, or a student, or just bored, but provided you’re not allergic to beans and other assorted dirt-cheap foodstuffs we think it’s quite possible. And if you buy it all, it’s two fingers up to those damned free-loving Fregans.
A large number of charities and associated events organisations rely on volunteers to even be vaguely feasible, but for most of us being asked to do unpaid work is a bit like being asked to help hand out flyers for a male escort agency – it’s time consuming and you’re not getting any of the benefits. Fortunately, a great many people have a habit of volunteering for stuff, and if you’re not one of them perhaps you should give it a try, just once. Choose a charity or an organisation you have at least some interest in so that you’re not complaining all the way through and you’ll be amazed at how helping other people instead of sitting around watching re-runs of Friends can make you feel better about yourself.
22.Write down your thoughts
Being a man involves being faced with making decisions – sometimes big, sometimes small. For occasions when knee-jerk doesn’t work and procrastination is getting you nowhere, it might be time to try a different approach. Writing things down can be beneficial for a number of reasons – if you can’t sleep because thoughts are buzzing around your head, dump them down on paper and come back to it the next day. Goals and achievements can be rewarding to take note of, projects are easier to plan and follow if there’s a record of what you’ve done, hell, before you know if you’ll be keeping a good, old-fashioned diary.
23. Fast for three days (just water)
People who practice yoga know a thing or two about being healthy, or at least that’s what they’d have us believe. One of their crazy rituals involves by fasting for three days and consuming nothing but water, a “diet” that’s actually advocated (with a ton of caveats of course, which we’d strongly advise you to read up on) by health professionals. Apparently it cleanses the system at a physical and mental level, leaving you clean, fresh and aching for pizza. Why do this? Well, like most of the things on this list, so you can say tried it. Plus it probably wouldn’t hurt to lose a few pounds, eh fatty?
24. High dive board
We were tempted to add things like skydiving, bungee jumping or free climbing to this list, but all of those take time and money. So in keeping with the theme, one way you can get close to doing something exhilarating that involves nothing more expensive than a ticket to your local swimming baths is a jump off a high-dive board. Not quite the same, admittedly, but you’ll still get a rush from overcoming your survival instincts and a mighty buzz from the fall.
25. Try everything once
Most self-respecting people will not wilfully entertain eating weird stuff like snout, hoof, caterpillar or brains that some cultures slap a bit of sauce on and call a “local delicacy”. Unless it’s a life-threatening situation, pass us the chicken. But then again, it’s important not to dismiss things out of hand, at least until you’ve actually tried them. Of course it’s impossible to literally try everything once, but next time you’re offered something or given an opportunity you’d otherwise turn down, grit your teeth and give it a go.
26. Play an instrument
Any man with a penchant for music has dreamed of being as talented at their particular musician of choice and yet the old problems typically get in the way – it takes years of hard work and effort. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try. A lesson or a short course doesn’t cost the earth, and often a tutor will have a spare instrument so you don’t even need to buy your own. And if you do have an old guitar gathering dust in the attic, there are plenty of tutorials online and downloadable sheet music of your favourite songs to help get you started.
27. Talk to your grandfather about the war
It’s easy to forget that our grandparents may have lived through (and in many cases, fought in) a war. The stereotype goes that they won’t ever shut up about it, but we’re willing to bet it’s been a long time since you sat down and had a conversation about their past. They won’t be around forever, so make sure you free up a bit of time to get to know your ancestors while you still have the chance.
28. Give away what you don’t need
It’s perfectly natural to accumulate junk over time, but it’s a good idea to have a clear out every now and then – you never know what you might find. And more importantly, there are plenty of people who’d probably get some good use out of the stuff you haven’t touched in years – charity shops are always after donations, and clothes drives and similar events can help put your junk in the hands of someone who’ll give it a good home.
29. Give up a seat on a train
This is an easy one, but I bet most of you have never done it. As regular human beings we’re used to hearing about strangers doing nice things for people, and promise to “get around to it one day” – well this is one nice thing that takes no time at all and is at worst a mild inconvenience. Next time you’re on a train or a bus, keep your eyes peeled for the old, the young and the pregnant, and be the first to offer your spot.
30. Do a 24 hour TV-a-thon
Over the last 10 years TV series have rivalled movies for production and entertainment value, with a smorgasboard of well-crafted narratives luring Hollywood big-hitters into trying their hand at a prolonged character arc. Some are slow burners that develop over time, others involve frequent cliff-hangers that leave you irritable for a week. Whether you choose to watch each episode as it airs or “save them up” and risk the inevitable dangers of finding out what happened, there’s nothing quite like boarding up the doors and windows and spending an entire day (and night) immersed from start to end in a great show, particularly if it has a rewarding pay off.
31. Fix a computer
Computers are too essential to our daily lives to rely on regular calls to the support department/local repair shop when something goes wrong. As a man you’re duty bound to either know how to fix the typical problems you might encounter, or at least how to look up a solution. Computer care centres rely on the average Joe not being knowledgeable enough to fix things themselves and make a lot of money from these folks – don’t be one of them.
32. Make a (successful) speech
Not everyone’s comfortable with public speaking but at one point in your life you should have delivered some sort of speech to some type of crowd, even if you messed it up. Learning how to speak confidently in public situations can have no end of benefits, from helping your voice to be heard in a discussion to impressing a boss and improving your chances of promotion. You may not like it, but it’s a skill that’s worth persisting with.
33. See the stars (contemplate the universe)
If you’re an existential type you’ll probably have spent a fair bit of time contemplating. If you’re not, know it can be quite exhilarating to spend a few moments realising just how tiny we are, sitting here on this ball of rock, spinning around a universe of unfathomable proportion. One of the best ways to do this is look up at the stars – but not the stars you can see from your urban ghetto, you’ll need to get right out into the sticks and away from ambient light to get a truly majestical picture of the cosmos.
34. Have a party trick/tell a joke
Everyone loves a party trick, especially if it’s a good one. As an ice-breaker at a social gathering, to impress a girl or simply to kill five minutes it’s an important weapon to have in your social arsenal. The same goes for jokes – if they’re good and people genuinely laugh you’ve scored points; if they’re bad and you’re self-depreciating enough about it you should still come off as a fun guy to be around.
35. Shoot a gun
Thanks to Hollywood we’ve come to believe that guns are as easy to shoot as water-pistols and scoring a head shot is simply a case of closing one eye. The reality is about as far from this as you could imagine, as you’ll come to find out if you ever get chance to have a go. A trip down the local rifle range or clay pigeon shooting can be a real eye-opener, and while we wouldn’t exactly advise that you take too much enjoyment from it, it’s a box on a “to do” list that needs to be ticked.
36. Be spontaneous
Every now and then you’ll encounter a situation where someone will suggest that you do something, and every fibre of your being rebels against it. It could be because you’re lazy, or you’re scared, or you’re just completely uninterested in that thing or the person suggesting it. But every now and then it’s worth ignoring these base instincts and going the hell ahead and doing it. Because A) you might actually enjoy it and B) if you don’t it’ll reassure you that you make good decisions. It’s win-win.
37. Come up with an idea for an invention/business – and look into it
Short of winning the lottery the best chance most people have of getting rich is to invent or patent something and sit back to watch the money roll in. The rules are simple – pick an inconvenience, solve a problem, offer a service, think of a useful app – simply dream up something that hasn’t been done yet and do some basic research into how to get it off the ground. We say “simply” – this sort of thing obviously isn’t easy, but if you don’t do it, someone else will.
38. Live without electric, water, gas for a weekend
We take a lot for granted in this day and age. Modern conveniences are all around us and we don’t really appreciate just how helpful they are until they’re gone. It’d be difficult enough to go a day without the internet, but why not go one step further and cut out all utilities? You’ll be amazed how much fun reading a book is all of a sudden, or going for a walk, or playing a board game – basically anything to fill the void left by the absence of gadgets and microwave meals.
39. Negotiate/bargain successfully
Learning how to negotiate successfully is a fine art, but there’s nothing worse than getting taken advantage of, or being the “muppet” that walks away from the used car garage having paid over the odds. So doing a bit of research beforehand and learning how to haggle is a time-honoured trend that’ll gain you respect, save you money, and grant you a skill that you’d be surprised how often you use.
40. Learn the basics of DIY
There’s a whole ton of DIY that could warrant its own list, but we’ll summarise here and say that every man worth his salt should be at least a little handy around the house. Fixing a leaky tap or a wobbly table, a creaky floor or a sticky drawer is not the job of handyman, it’s the job of a man. Get a proper set of tools, get a DIY manual or look stuff up online. Roll up your sleeves and learn how to do this stuff – even if you can afford not to.
41. Be debt-free
Debt sucks. We all have debt, or at least we did at one time or another. Living a debt-free life isn’t a luxury that many of us can afford, but everyone should be able to look back at one period in their adult life and claim that for a fleeting, glorious moment, they owed nothing to nobody. No credit cards, no student loans, no borrowing a tenner that you’re not sure you’ll end up paying back – nothing. If you haven’t achieved this (and it’s vaguely possible) then make it an aim. Stop spending wildly on stuff you can’t afford, cut back on frivolous jaunts and focus on reaching that break-even point – and if you can’t do that, at least pay off the damn store card.
Thanks to smartphones and navigation apps there are far fewer times when a good old-fashioned sense of direction is needed. But consider roaming charges, and battery life, and the fact that every man must at least know the basics. Aside from picking up a map once in a while and proving you can still use one, learn a few helpful survival tips. For example, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west – if it’s early in the morning or late in the afternoon and you know roughly which direction your destination is in, this might just come in handy. To use your watch as a compass (if it’s digital, or you don’t have one but know the time you can still visualise the hands), point the hour hand at the sun, halfway between that and 12 o’clock is due south (in the southern hemisphere, it’s due north). There’s a lot more of this to be found online.
43. Don’t tell a lie for an entire day
A peer reviewed psychological study into how often people lie found that in a 10 minute conversation, subjects told an average of 2.92 porky pies. These might be as simple as “I’m fine” and many could be well meaning, but the point was made – us humans lie a lot; its second nature. To find out exactly how much, try not lying at all for an entire day. We’re not suggesting being brutally honest with all and sundry (telling your boss what you really think of him is unlikely to go down well) so silence may be a wise choice at times, but it should help you realise exactly how difficult this can be.
44. Learn how to fly a plane
Having a pilot’s licence is typically the realm of the rich and famous. It’s expensive, it takes a lot of time, and renting a plane is expensive enough, let along buying one. But a lesson or two doesn’t cost the earth and the experience alone is worth the cost of a few hours in the air. Many smaller, local airports or airstrips offer lessons, and it’s always worth keeping an eye out for voucher deals.
45. Learn to dance (a particular style)
Dancing – not just for girls any more. In fact you’ll do yourself the world of good if you can strut your stuff convincingly in front of the object of your affections – after all there’s no point asking a lady to dance if you’re going to blow your chances by jumping around in front of her like a giant albatross on stilts. Unfortunately, “rhythm” isn’t something everyone is blessed with so if you are prone to avian impersonation, do yourself a favour and take a couple of classes. It’ll improve your chances, and your confidence, no end.
46. Work for yourself
As the old adage goes, you’ll never get rich working for somebody else. Happy, contented, well off perhaps, but not rich rich. Of course there are reasons why so many people work for so many other people – stability, health insurance, pensions, paid holiday, social interaction and a regular wage to name but a few, but even despite all of this many people still long to be their own boss. Next time you’re “between jobs” why not write a novel, provide a service, sell a product – in the age of the internet there’s never been a better time to go it alone, and if it doesn’t work at least you can say you tried.
47. Try dating online
Once upon a time online dating was seen as a haven for strange, reclusive types with no friends and no future. Not so any more – online dating is hot-hot-hot (and so are some of the women) so there’s absolutely no shame in admitting that you’re on the lookout. One third of married people in the US met online, according to a recent study, and when you consider that you get to learn about someone’s hobbies, interests and habits before you even meet them, it’s not difficult to see the appeal.
48. Draft a will
Classic “to do” list stuff here – writing a will is something few people look forward to and therefore something that’s inevitably put off, particularly in younger years. But being able to decide where your money goes yourself should be enough of an incentive. The rules vary if you die intestate – without having a will – and though usually this does involve allowing a next of kin to decide, in some situations you might find the government gets their greedy mitts on some or all of it. Best grab a pen and a napkin and start scribbling.
49. Build up your online profile
We’re not talking about uploading even more pictures of your elephant impression onto Facebook, or increasing the frequency at which you tell people the most mundane aspects of your daily life – having an online presence for more professional reasons is becoming more and more important. Building a LinkedIn profile could seriously improve your chances of being noticed by future employers, and having a website or blog (these are free and easy to create) offers you an outlet for all that pent up rage and frustration and an effective way to convey your personality.
50. Get a proper shave in a barber shop and feel like Al Capone
Not a lot of people have time for the barber shop these days – getting your hair cut is usually a case of getting in and out as fast as possible to minimise the amount of time you spend having awkward conversations about the weather. Just once though, make it your mission to find a proper old-timey place run by an elderly Italian man and get a shave with a straight razor to see what all the fuss is about. Then come straight home and watch The Untouchables.
51. Reach your ideal weight
If you haven’t hit your 30s yet, count yourself blessed. Those who have will testify to the fact that the very day you hit the big 3-0 something very strange happens to your body. Your metabolism packs up, your weight balloons and almost overnight you turn into a fat bastard. This isn’t funny – it’s very frustrating, but thanks to an abundance of gyms and crazy modern diets there’s nothing stopping you from getting back to your ideal weight at least once more before you die. Aside from willpower and the fact that it’s difficult of course.
52. Strive to be an expert in something
We’ve already talked about just trying out something new even if you don’t stick to it, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually become pretty damned good at something? Becoming a true professional-grade expert may take 10,000 hours, as popularised by the excellent Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, but we’d settle for making it a target and you should at least get to the stage where you can impress someone with your ability.
53. Thank your parents
It’s not an easy job being a parent, as any parents that read this will no doubt agree, and that’s largely because parental care, guidance, money and unconditional love is often taken for granted. If you regularly thank the folks for everything they’ve done for you then you’re a better man than most, but others would surely agree that picking up the phone or staging an unplanned visit just to say “thanks” surely wouldn’t go amiss.
54. Learn to juggle
Here’s something you can do in your spare time that’ll improve your dexterity, hand-eye coordination and make you popular at parties – everyone likes a guy who can juggle. For the price of three balls (or oranges, if you’re particularly hard up) and a skim-read of some basic techniques, a bit of practice could score you some much-needed points for entertaining this fine old art.
55. Leave a massive tip
When it comes to the right time and place to tip, the rules vary quite widely depending on where you are in the world, as does the decision as to whether to tip at all. If you have received particularly good service from a particularly nice member of staff then why not go mental – doubtless it’ll make their day and if nothing else you should get that warm fuzzy feeling inside (followed by the cold, shivery feeling when realising you don’t have enough for the cab home).
56. Take a weekend away without your phone
Smartphones are amazing tools, aren’t they? Singlehandedly replacing a dozen or so gadgets in one foul swoop is no easy feat, so it’s no surprise many people would rather lose a limb than go without their handheld. But these seductive beasts are the ultimate attention-sapper – the temptation to frequently check messages, emails or news will often mean you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on around you. So plan a weekend away – take a loved one, or a friend, or the dog, and leave the phone at home.
57. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant (ideally cooked by a famous chef)
Now admittedly this may not be cheap, but tucking into some posh grub every now and then didn’t do anyone any harm, and if you walk away wondering why you’ve just spent a day’s wages on a five-course meal and you’re still hungry, at least you know not to do it again. If at all possible pick a restaurant where a famous chef is making a guest appearance so you at least you have a story to tell.
58. Have a hero/shake their hand
Heroes aren’t what they used to be – modern day inspirations are far more difficult to nail down now that they are a constant target for a desperate media digging for skeletons and looking to shift clicks in numbers. But every man should have a hero (your Dad doesn’t count) – someone who has lived their life in a way that they consider inspirational, someone to aspire to. Picking one is the (relatively) easy part, but meeting them face to face, shaking their hand and telling them why you think they’re great, that’s the clincher.
59. Make a family tree
There’s a small but dedicated bunch of people – genealogists – who are genuinely interested in who their relatives were and where they came from. Take Genghis Kahn for example – his reproductive powers were around 800,000 times more potent than your average man. Apparently one in every 200 people alive in the world today is a relative of his, and that’d be quite a cool thing to find out, right? Aside from being forever associated with a mass murderer of course.
60. Fall in love/get your heart broken
This is a bit of a strange one. Anyone who’s genuinely had their “heart broken” will tell you that this is absolutely, definitely the last thing you would want to endure. It’s not fun, but at least it means you were genuinely in love. Even naïve, sappy, acne-ridden love counts – you lived, you loved and you lost. And there’s surely something missing in a man’s life if he’s never cared enough for someone to be utterly destroyed when it falls apart. It puts hairs on the chest, people.
61. Experience a third world country
It’s very easy to get used to mod-cons and take the luxuries we enjoy every day for granted. Perhaps you also feel bad when you see how people in the third-world live when it pops up on the TV – bad enough to donate some money to a worthy cause. But seeing it in the flesh is a different matter altogether – eye-opening, devastating, inspiring, there are surely few other experiences that can make you truly value what you have.
62. Talk to a woman that’s clearly way out of your league
Men have waged wars, conquered nations, built awe-inspiring structures and negotiated billion-dollar deals, but when it comes to approaching a stunningly attractive woman in a bar, most are still completely at a loss. Standard practice is to stare wistfully with your tongue hanging out, vaguely hoping they might approach to wipe the dribble from your chin, but in reality this does not guarantee success. So take a deep breath, smile and say the first thing that comes into your mind (keep it clean), because you never know.
63. Build a tree house
There are few things more exciting as a child than spending time in a tree house. Typically the kid in school with the best tree house gets a free pass to the top league in the popularity stakes, and what father wouldn’t want to give their boy a leg-up in life? As an added bonus you get to build the botanical mansion you were never privy to as a child, score some massive “Dad” points and sit back with a beer forever admiring the fruits of your labour.
64. Take a trip by yourself
There are times in a man’s life when he must discard the pressures of modern life and the ever-weighty burden of responsibility and take some real alone time. A weekend away with nothing but yourself for company is a perfect opportunity for contemplation. Score extra points if, as already mentioned, you ditch the smartphone. Consider what you’ve achieved and what you want to achieve – it’ll be a liberating experience, and you may return mentally refreshed and ready to tackle life’s problems head on.
65. Write a letter to your younger self
Let’s fantasise for a moment here – imagine you could write a letter to your younger self to offer the best advice you can muster for getting through life up to this point. Would you warn them against bad experiences? Urge them to stick at something you gave up? Tell them to ditch a bad habit? Or perhaps just tell them to enjoy life, and don’t sweat the small stuff? Whatever it might be, it’s a good way to indirectly get things off your chest, and again – it’s therapeutic.
66. Study something you’re interested in
For most of us going to school was a chore. Even at university age when we can choose what we learn, few know exactly what they want to do as a vocation in life, and the fact that beer and girls are unavoidable distractions doesn’t help. But fast-forward to a time when you’ve learnt enough of life’s lessons and enough about yourself to consider what you’d really be good at, and there may be a few lingering regrets about what you should have done. It’s never too late – studying for a degree or higher qualification is now quite possibly on a part time basis and if you have some time to spare, it could allow you to tick a big box.
67. Get a dog
They don’t call dogs a man’s best friend for nothing. Loyal, devoted, and only likely to moan about the fact that you’re sitting on the sofa all night eating Doritos because you’re not dropping enough on the floor, owning a dog is the closest a man can get to a companion that demands nothing in return, aside from the odd walkies of course. Plus you can train it to bring you slippers and a newspaper. What’s not to like?
68. Plan a kick-ass party
At some point in your life you should have devised, meticulously planned, and confidently executed a kick-arse party. Everything from a formal guest list to a selection of great booze, well-chosen music and dancing girls with nipple-tassels (optional) should have been done by the time you’re 30. If you’re over 30 and haven’t done this, good luck with that, because now everyone has wives and kids and stuff. But kids sleep, wives babysit and it’s never too late to issue a call to arms – every one of your tied-up male friends is secretly hoping someone will do this soon.
69. Visit a famous art gallery
Art isn’t for everyone. While most can appreciate the skill involved in painting a life-like recreation of something recognisable, works that look like they’ve been designed by a hyperactive five year old with a set of crayons that sell for millions are far harder to get your head around. But there must be something in it, so next time you’re visiting a city with a famous gallery push yourself out of your comfort zone and pay a visit. Buy a guide book and really try to appreciate exactly why some of these works are so popular.
70. Learn first aid
It should be fairly obvious exactly why every man should know first aid basics – CPR, the recovery position, the Heimlich manoeuvre, how to stop the bleeding – hopefully you’ll never need it, but we could be talking genuine life or death here if you’re in a position where someone needs your help.
71. Invest in stocks and/or shares
For many, stocks and shares are the realm of the uber-businessman, the man who prefers the Financial Times to the tabloids, NASDAQ to Groupon and the price of oil to the price of bread. But this needn’t be the case – you don’t have to be rich to invest, but to do it wisely you do need a bit of research. If nothing else it’ll give you a talking point if you bump into rich playboys during a business trip to the city.
72. Look after your clothes
Most men won’t get far in life by being a scruffy bastard, and women don’t like men who don’t know how to look after themselves. Good grooming should be fairly obvious but it’s also important to know how to cover the basics when it comes to how you dress. By this we mean know how to iron a shirt, choose the right washer setting, choose a suit, coordinate, sew a button – have some self-respect and make sure you don’t have to ask anyone to do any of this for you.
73. Grow your own food
There’s something strangely fulfilling about planting a seed and watching it grow with nothing but sunlight, water and the loving embrace of nature. Pick something you can eat and you get free, fresh food thrown in for good measure, leaving you with more money to spend on beer.
74. Do something new every day for a week
These ideas are meant to give food for thought – experiencing life to the fullest is one of the best ways to ensure that when you do kick the bucket, you don’t look back with a bunch of regrets. And this needn’t involve a lot of travel, or a lot of money. The important thing now is to pick stuff and go and do it – a good place to start is to do something you’ve never done before every day for a week, no matter how small.
75. Create a bucket list
Oh, the irony. But seriously, we can offer suggestions, only you know what you really want to do before you die.