What do you want to accomplish for you die? It’s worthwhile to think about that. This list can help inspire you.
Four thousand weeks.
That’s about how long any of us has in this world, give or take a few hundred weeks.
And there’s something more profound about that — about measuring in weeks — because it’s more manageable than thinking of your life in longer time frames like years or decades. You know just about what you can get done in a week. And you know how short those seven days can feel.
Making the most of your few thousand weeks is about more than racking up a list of accomplishments. It’s about stretching yourself — expanding your ideas of what it means to be a man living in this strange and unforgettable world.
To help jumpstart your thinking on what you’d like to do in your life, I’ve collected a triple-digit list of things every man should do once before he dies. They’re helpfully organized into things you should learn, places to go and sights to see, activities you should try, and experiences to have.
While I say “should,” this is really meant to be an assortment of ideas. Some of these things won’t be even possible for some people.
Not everyone will want to get a tattoo, and that’s ok. Similarly, if you’re say wanted by the Chinese government, it’ll be pretty hard to visit the Great Wall of China.
Think of this as a list of possibilities — potential side quests on your life’s journey.
Things to Learn
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live foreverMahatma Gandhi
- How to juggle: Learning a basic three-ball juggle will take you time, patience, and determination, but most importantly, it will teach you to relax. If you watch a couple of videos of juggling pros, you’ll notice that they’re all pretty easy-going; so learning to juggle is as much about learning to have fun with your failures as it is learning a new party trick.
- How to cook your favorite foods: If there’s one skill that a guy can learn to improve just about every aspect of his life, it’s cooking. Want to impress a girl on your third date? Cook for her. Need to get into better shape, lose weight, and build muscle? Stop eating out and cook for yourself. Pitching in at any get-together for family or friends? That’s right: Cook something and bring it along with you.
- How to write poetry and short stories
- How to play an instrument
- How to speak in public
- How to lift weights (safely and effectively)
- How to keep your inbox organized
- How to make and follow a to-do list
- How to organize your time
- How to build a website
- How to make and use spreadsheets
- How to draw basic sketches
- How to argue fairly: When you’re in an argument, who wins? Trick question — in the best scenarios, both parties win by learning more about the issue that’s at hand. That’s an example of the ancient art of rhetoric, the art of effective speaking, and it’s a key skill to have for all of your relationships.
- How to take great photos
- How to film short videos
- How to make friends as an adult: Once you’re out of school, no longer in college, and maybe even moved away from your hometown, making friends changes. Sure, you might make friends with a few of your coworkers. But if you want to really broaden your horizons, you’ll need to learn how to make new friends as a man.
- How to dress like a professional
- How to speak a new language
- How to brew a great cup of coffee
- How to ask for a raise
- How to do your taxes
- How to live on a budget
- How to invest your money
- How to change a tire
- How to fix basic things around the house
Places to Go and Sights to See
Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.Ibn Battuta
- Get a Eurail Pass and travel around Europe: The Eurail Pass advertises itself as the cheapest rail pass in Europe, and it is indeed an incredible value. Since Europe is so well connected by train, a 3-month pass (for just under $700) can take you anywhere on the continent whenever you please. It’s a perfect way to see all of Europe on a budget.
- Visit New York City’s many boroughs
- Head to as many National Parks as possible: America’s National Parks are an enduring symbol of our country’s amazing outdoor heritage — and they’re some of the last places to get a real glimpse of how America used to look, before highways and gas stations and fast food joints on every corner. You can see all of them on a map here.
- Go to San Francisco and see the Golden Gate Bridge
- See Seattle’s Pike Place Market and the Space Needle
- Visit the Capitol and see the Washington Monument
- Hike the Appalachian Trail (or just part of it)
- Go kayaking in South Carolina’s Barrier Islands
- Take a month-long trip through Southeast Asia
- Camp around the Great Lakes
- Go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras: New Orleans has been described as feeling more like the northern tip of the Caribbean than the southern United States, and never is that more true than during Mardi Gras. It’s wild, it’s drunken, it’s downright Bacchanalian — there’s no party quite like it anywhere else in America.
- Stop over in Iceland on your way to or from Europe
- Visit Macchu Picchu
- See the pyramids in Egypt
- Go on a Caribbean cruise
- Take an overland trip around Australia
- Visit the Taj Mahal in India
- Lose yourself in Tokyo’s bars and restaurants: Japan’s capital city is also its most densely populated and is densely packed with bars and restaurants. Their drinking and dining culture is far removed from anything you’ve ever experienced, and some 30,000 bars mean you will (literally) never run out of options.
- Walk along the Great Wall of China
- See the Northern Lights somewhere in the Arctic Circle
- Marvel at the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
- Stick to the coastlines all through Central and South America
- Sample the street food in Mexico City
- Safari in Africa
- Seek solace in Alaska
Activities to Try
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.Jim Rohn
- Try as many different foods as you can: We’ll give it to you straight: Being a picky eater isn’t a good look on anyone. With time, effort, and a little willingness to go outside of your comfort zone, you can develop an appreciation — or at least an acceptance — of a wider variety of foods, and thereby a wider variety of world cultures as well.
- Take up archery
- Play pick-up basketball at the park
- Try jogging for a month, six months, a year, or more
- Visit your local zoo on a beautiful day
- Visit local museums and learn about where you live
- Check out every park in your city
- Visit a record shop and browse through their collection: When was the last time you went digging for vinyl? And let’s be clear here: It doesn’t even really matter whether you have a turntable. Just looking through a physical history of music and sound, with all of their amazing album covers, might spark new musical tastes in you (even if you just look them up on Spotify later).
- Play pool at your local dive bar
- Find some friends to play golf with
- Try a martial arts class: Any individual martial art may not be for everyone, but there really is a style that’s suitable for anyone. Martial arts are an awesome way to get active, make new friends, develop useful life skills, and look pretty cool doing it. And who knows? Maybe you’ll catch the bug and end up with a lifelong hobby out of the deal.
- Start riding a bicycle around town
- Treat yourself to a day at a sauna
- Start coaching a kid’s sports team
- Take dancing lessons
- Start a journal: Journaling regularly can improve your mental health, give you a much-needed boost in clarity and confidence, and help you sort through what you need to prioritize (and what you can let go). I wrote a guide for how to start journaling, and it’s a great place to start if you’ve never put pen to paper on the daily before.
- Go to the library and check out a book you wouldn’t normally read
- Write a poem or short story
- Go to an improv class
- Stay for the whole show at a comedy club
- Find someone to teach you how to barbecue
- Brew your own beer
- Make your own hot sauce
- Go camping for a weekend (or more)
- Try smoking a cigar
Experiences to Have
The easiest way to be reborn is to live and feel life every day.Munia Khan
- Travel solo: When I was 17 years old, I picked up a book that would change my life forever: Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts. It opened up a world of possibilities, so long as you were willing and able to travel light, spend little, and maximize your experiences rather than your achievements. Traveling solo changed my life for the better, through hard times and good, and I think you’ll find it a singularly challenging and rewarding experience.
- Raise kids to have a better life than you did
- Spend a week alone in the woods
- Get your black belt in a martial art
- Train for and compete in an Ironman triathlon
- Attend a retreat or seminar specifically for men
- Get yourself out of debt — and stay that way
- Buy a house, and make it into a home
- Start your own small business: Whether it’s making graphic t-shirts or reinventing the wheel, performing a service, or refining a product, every guy should try to start their own small business at least once in life. And small is the key word here: You don’t need to abandon your current job to pursue an interesting small business venture on the side. Though if it blows up and is successful, you might be able to quit your day job forever.
- Forgive someone who has hurt you
- Apologize to someone that you’ve hurt
- Support a friend who is going through a hard time
- Spend dedicated quality time with your parents
- Write a letter to an old friend
- Attend a silent meditation retreat: When was the last time that you went 24 hours without saying a word? It seems so simple as to be silly, but our spoken words have a huge impact on our thought processes; take them away, and new insights (and frustrations) will appear. A silent meditation retreat will give you the space to explore this newfound perception peacefully, and with the support of other like-minded individuals.
- Read a book a week for a year
- Drink one of each beer offered at Oktoberfest
- Climb a mountain
- Go to Burning Man
- Get a tattoo
- Take a cross-country motorcycle trip: Freedom and the open road go hand in hand, and a motorcycle is the best way to experience both. Better yet, see if you can convince an old friend to take that trip with you. It will be a life-changing adventure, and an opportunity to deepen your relationships with yourselves and the world around you.
- Go SCUBA diving
- Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant
- Volunteer your time at an animal shelter
- Adopt a stray dog or cat
There’s Always More
Look, no list of things is going to encompass everything that a guy should do before he dies. Like I said before, at best this list will be a jumping-off point for you to take and run with.
However, if you’ve taken even one idea from this list and it’s motivated you to do something new, something different, something exciting, then I’m glad to have been at least a small help to you.
Add to the list by sharing your ideas in the comment section below!