Self-reliance is a vital key to living a healthy, productive life. To be self-reliant one must master a basic set of skills, more or less making them a jack of all trades. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, a jack of all trades is far more equipped to deal with life than a specialized master of only one.
While not totally comprehensive, here is a list of 50 things everyone should know how to do.
1. Build a Fire – Fire produces heat and light, two basic necessities for living. At some point in your life this knowledge may be vital.
2. Operate a Computer – Fundamental computer knowledge is essential these days. Please, help those in need.
3. Use Google Effectively – Google knows everything. If you’re having trouble finding something with Google, it’s you that needs help.
- Google Guide
- Google Advanced Search Operators
- Google Web Search Features
- 20 Tips for More Efficient Google Searches
4. Perform CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver – Someday it may be your wife, husband, son or daughter that needs help.
- Learn CPR
- How To Perform Adult CPR (video)
- How CPR Works
- How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver (video)
5. Drive a Manual Transmission Vehicle – There will come a time when you’ll be stuck without this knowledge.
- How To Drive a Stick Shift Instructional Movie (video)
- Learn to Drive a Stick Shift
- Learn to Drive a Car with Manual Transmission
6. Do Basic Cooking – If you can’t cook your own steak and eggs, you probably aren’t going to make it.
7. Tell a Story that Captivates People’s Attention – If you can’t captivate their attention, you should probably just save your breath.
8. Win or Avoid a Fistfight – Either way, you win.
- How To Actually Win a Fistfight
- How To Win a Fistfight (video)
- How To Win a Street Fight
- How To Avoid Confrontations Like a Samurai Warrior
9. Deliver Bad News – Somebody has got to do it. Unfortunately, someday that person will be you.
- How To Deliver Bad News in Writing
- How to Deliver Bad News to a Customer
- Good Ways to Deliver Bad News
10. Change a Tire – Because tires have air in them, and things with air in them eventually pop.
11. Handle a Job Interview – I promise, sweating yourself into a nervous panic won’t land you the job.
- The 25 Most Difficult Questions in a Job Interview
- Job Interview Questions and Answers
- How to Handle Your Job Interviews Successfully
- 10 Sticky Job Interview Situations and How to Handle Them
12. Manage Time – Not doing so is called wasting time, which is okay sometimes, but not all the time.
- How To Manage Time and Maximize Effectiveness
- Managing Your Time
- 10 tips for time management in a multitasking world
- Time Management Tips and Exercises
13. Speed Read – Sometimes you just need the basic gist, and you needed it 5 minutes ago.
14. Remember Names – Do you like when someone tries to get your attention by screaming “hey you”?
15. Relocate Living Spaces – Relocating is always a little tougher than you originally imagined.
16. Travel Light – Bring only the necessities. It’s the cheaper, easier, smarter thing to do.
17. Handle the Police – Because jail isn’t fun… and neither is Bubba.
- What to Do If You’re Stopped by the Police
- How To Handle the Cops if They Knock on Your Door
- How To Handle the Police
18. Give Driving Directions – Nobody likes driving around in circles. Get this one right the first time.
- How To Give a Complete Stranger Driving Directions
- How To Give Directions
- Giving Good Driving Directions
19. Perform Basic First Aid – You don’t have to be a doctor, or genius, to properly dress a wound.
20. Swim – 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Learning to swim might be a good idea.
21. Parallel Park – Parallel parking is a requirement on most standard driver’s license driving tests, yet so many people have no clue how to do it. How could this be?
22. Recognize Personal Alcohol Limits – Otherwise you may wind up like this charming fellow.
23. Select Good Produce – Rotten fruits and vegetables can be an evil tease and an awful surprise.
- Produce Primer: Selecting the Best
- Tips on Choosing Produce and Keeping it Fresh
- Buying Fresh Vegetables
24. Handle a Hammer, Axe or Handsaw – Carpenters are not the only ones who need tools. Everyone should have a basic understanding of basic hand tools.
25. Make a Simple Budget – Being in debt is not fun. A simple budget is the key.
26. Speak at Least Two Common Languages – Only about 25% of the world’s population speaks English. It would be nice if you could communicate with at least some of the remaining 75%.
- Free Online Language Courses
- Learn a Foreign Language Online Free
- Language Learning with Rosetta Stone
27. Do Push-Ups and Sit-Ups Properly – Improper push-ups and sit-ups do nothing but hurt your body and waste your time.
- How To Do a Proper Push-Up
- Chris Comfort’s Push-Up Workout (video)
- 19 Variations for a Push-Up (video)
- How To Do Sit-Ups (video)
- How To Do an Abdominal Crunch (video)
28. Give a Compliment – It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, and it’s free.
- How To Give a Good Compliment
- 5 Kick-Ass Reasons to Give a Genuine Compliment
- How To Give a Killer Compliment
- 10 Best Compliments a Man Can Give a Woman
29. Negotiate – The better deal is only a question or two away.
30. Listen Carefully to Others – The more you listen and the less you talk, the more you will learn and the less you will miss.
- Tips on Effective Listening
- Listening Tips for the Classroom Environment
- Techniques for Active Listening
31. Recite Basic Geography – If you don’t know where anything is outside of your own little bubble, most people will assume (and they are probably correct) that you don’t know too much at all.
32. Paint a Room – The true cost of painting is 90% labor. For simple painting jobs it makes no sense to pay someone 9 times what it would cost you to do it yourself.
33. Make a Short, Informative Public Speech – At the next company meeting if your boss asks you to explain what you’ve been working on over the last month, a short, clear, informative response is surely your best bet. “Duhhh…” will not cut it.
- How To Conquer the Public Speaking Fear
- Better Public Speaking and Presentation
- How To Write an Informative Speech
34. Smile for the Camera – People that absolutely refuse to smile for the camera suck!
35. Flirt Without Looking Ridiculous – There is a fine line between successful flirting and utter disaster. If you try too hard, you lose. If you don’t try hard enough, you lose.
- Guide to Flirting
- Flirt Without Frightening
- The Rules of Flirtation
- The Science of Romance: Why We Flirt
36. Take Useful Notes – Because useless notes are useless, and not taking notes is a recipe for failure.
37. Be a Respectful House Guest – Otherwise you will be staying in a lot of hotels over the years.
- 10 Ways to Be and Excellent House Guest
- How To Be a Good House Guest
- Have A Pleasant Visit By Following A Few House Rules
38. Make a Good First Impression – Aristotle once said, “well begun is half done.”
- How To Make those First Impressions Count
- Making a Great First Impression
- Tips for Making a Good First Impression
39. Navigate with a Map and Compass – What happens when the GPS craps out and you’re in the middle of nowhere?
40. Sew a Button onto Clothing – It sure is cheaper than buying a new shirt.
41. Hook Up a Basic Home Theater System – This isn’t rocket science. Paying someone to do this shows sheer laziness.
42. Type – Learning to type could save you days worth of time over the course of your lifetime.
- Online Typing Lessons for Everyone
- Free Typing Lessons for the Standard QWERTY Keyboard
- Free Touch Typing Program
43. Protect Personal Identity Information – Personal identity theft is not fun unless you are the thief. Don’t be careless.
44. Implement Basic Computer Security Best Practices – You don’t have to be a computer science major to understand the fundamentals of creating complex passwords and using firewalls. Doing so will surely save you a lot of grief someday.
- 4 Steps to Protect Your Computer
- Security Basics for Home Computers
- SANS Basic Computer Security Whitepapers
45. Detect a Lie – People will lie to you. It’s a sad fact of life.
46. End a Date Politely Without Making Promises – There is no excuse for making promises you do not intend to keep. There is also no reason why you should have to make a decision on the spot about someone you hardly know.
47. Remove a Stain – Once again, it’s far cheaper than buying a new one.
48. Keep a Clean House – A clean house is the foundation for a clean, organized lifestyle.
- The Keep-It-Clean Plan
- Keeping a Stress-Free, Clean House
- How To Keep Your House Clean in 20 Minutes a Day
49. Hold a Baby – Trust me, injuring a baby is not what you want to do.
50. Jump Start a Car – It sure beats walking or paying for a tow truck.
Check out these books for more ideas on pertinent life skills:
- 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn’t
- The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge
- The Experts’ Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do