19 Essential Life Skills Everyone Should Learn Before They’re 25

A few months ago I realized I’d reached my professional goals much earlier than my deadline of July 19th—my 25th birthday.

The feelings that followed were not of joy and elation like I expected, but rather shame and embarrassment.

I didn’t feel like the successful young man I thought I would. But why?

We live in a work-focused society where success is solely measured by monetary worth and progression on our career ladders.

Families and friends play into this idea, causing our professional lives to take full priority and gain our undivided attention, while our personal lives take a back seat and gradually fade into the background.

The reality was that I was going to hit 25 and be worlds away from the highly capable and well-rounded human being I wanted to be.

I only had several months to change that reality, so I set out on a mission.

That mission consisted of learning 19 life skills which I believe to be essential for any 25 year old (but it’s never too late to start no matter what your age!) Today, with 1 month to go and only a few skills left to master, I now want to share them with you.

Take the oath and join me in completing the list and becoming fully ready to get the most out of the next chapter of our lives.

1. How To Learn

Not knowing how to learn new skills is likely the reason you flunked your university exams, or gave up learning the guitar after only a few weeks. This one needs mastering before any of the others.

2. How To Dance

Salsa, Hip Hop, Bollywood, The Mexican Hat Dance; whatever your style, theirs a type of dance for it. Learning how to move your body and that of a partner’s is a must.

3. How To Swim

Learn to swim? How is that essential? Over 70{54c12dad2cc2b53ae830e39915b1a3e70288dbcbbeb8bbf8395437c5dc3c512c} of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. If you don’t do it for the sheer thrill of curiosity and exploration, do it for the rising tides and increasing risk of flash floods.

4. How To Pick Up A Guy Or Girl

Many think learning ‘pick up’ is sleazy and just down right weird. And it is—when used for the wrong reasons. For anyone with other things than sex on their mind—like finding love or starting a family—it’s common sense to learn how to approach and interact with people you find attractive.

5. How To Defend Yourself

We all think being robbed or kidnapped will never happen to us, until it does. Better to learn sooner rather than later.

6. How To Travel For Next To Nothing

We spend our 20’s complaining that, “If only I had the money I would travel the world”. Only to make enough money and then never finding the time to do it. The reality is you can travel for next to nothing, and even make money in the process.

7. How To Sew

I don’t want to go through life stock piling clothes that need patching up for the next time I see my grandma. From sewing buttons and seams, to making adjustments and embroidering; learn the basic techniques and you’ll have a handy skill for life, master them all and you’ll have friends for life.

8. How To Make Your Signature Dish

Whether it’s mince pies or moussaka, paella or pot-au-feu, a signature dish is something you become known for. It’s many advantages include making you popular among friends and getting yourself out of tough arguments with family members.

9. How To Do Your Taxes

As long as I can avoid this one I will.

10. How To Party

A balanced life is one in which you put as much effort into play as you do in work. Get intoxicated, break the rules, and aim for nothing less than an A* in partying.

11. What Is Love

Love is something many people die without fully getting to grips with. Yet how can you love if you don’t fully understand what it is? Love is not a person or a thing or even a set of feelings, it’s a form of energy that is shared when you truly connect with someone or something.

12. How To Not Give a Sh*t

Most of us struggle through life caring about things that don’t warrant even the slightest bit of our attention. We care about the rude attendant at the gas station, that our friend forgot our birthday, or even the stormy weather which stopped us going jogging this morning. When we care about these things, we are believing we are entitled to be happy at all times. Learn how to not sweat the small stuff.

13. Your Place In The Universe

There are around 8.8 billion habitable planets in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. There are at least 200 billion galaxies in the universe. Meaning there are around 100 billion habitable earth-like planets out there. Yet I’m not just talking about the physical universe, but the one inside your mind.

14. How To Be Mindful

Journaling, meditation, yoga, tai chi, pranayama, jogging; any activity or exercise that causes you to pause and reflect, get out of your head, or become more aware and in touch with the present, is a must have tool in enjoying a long and healthy life.

15. How To Use The Internet

Much like the physical world, we are gifted the internet without so much as a small instruction manual on how to use it. Discover its full potential and master everything from setting up an email client and finding trustworthy information, to taking online courses and selling your own products and services.

16. How Your Body Works

Can you imagine going on an 80-110 year trip in a car without knowing how to change a tire, what fuel it needs, and the importance of letting the engine cool? You wouldn’t get so far as the corner shop. Grasp a basic understanding of anatomy, biology, physiology, and psychology—as well as the Heimlich and CPR—if not for your own sake, then for that of others.

17. How To Have Great Sex

We think we know how to have sex. But there is a huge difference between having sex and having GREAT sex. Think three minutes of grunting and panting and rabbit-like humping compared to setting off on a whirlwind journey to a multi-sensory and multi-orgasmic (men and women) kingdom of pleasure.

18. How to Love Yourself

Learning to love yourself is arguably the most crucial and yet most overlooked skill on the list. In order to let your love for the world and for others shine through, it’s first necessary to center and solidify that source of love inside yourself. Deny yourself the love you deserve, and you deny the world a whole lot of loving.

19. How to Forget Your Age And Live Like A Child

Birthdays excite us—until we reach 25 and realize it’s all downhill from then on. This makes it the perfect time to throw useless numerical measurements of existence out the window and instead, adopt something a little more satisfying:

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” ― John Lennon

Joseph Pennington is a writer, mindfulness teacher, and the founder of Bebot, the world’s first AI mindfulness coach. You can try out the Bebot Alexa app here and sign up to make sure you hear the latest from Joseph and your new mindful robot friend.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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