The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote that “the more a man has in himself, the less others can be to him.” In other words, it is competence that truly makes a man safe, not age or time.
Hence, as you approach certain milestones — like the age of 40 — there is a higher need to put a deliberate effort into evolving and improving yourself. These 20 skills are a great measuring stick for all of us. Check to see if you still have much to learn as you approach 40.
1. How to make a memorable toast
Have you ever been asked to give a toast but didn’t know what to say?
Whether it’s at a professional event or you’re the best man at your friend’s wedding, a great skill to have is the ability to make a great toast.
Here’s the thing: If you’re a man who is highly respected by others, there are going to be times when those around you will look up to you to make a toast. And being able to make one rightly shows grace.
You want to stand up, raise your glass, and say a few words that make everyone smile. One rule of thumb though is to make it brief — stay away from embarrassing stories. When you give a great toast that inspires other people, you will be remembered.
2. How to be an effective listener
As Robert Greene pointed out in his Laws of Human Nature,
“When an event occurs or when we meet a new person, we do not stop to consider all aspects or details, but instead we see an outline or pattern that fits into our expectations and past experiences.”
It takes a deliberate effort to be an effective listener. And though it’s a skill you should master as early as possible, you definitely should know how to do it as you approach 40. Being a good listener helps you become more productive, negotiate better, increase your influence, and get the right connection.
In social interactions, learn to listen to understand, not to reply. This doesn’t just help you avoid unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding with people, it also helps you get on the good side of most people, and this helps further broaden your connection in life.
Did you know that only 3% of people actually know how to perform CPR even though the majority of people understand its importance? About 9 in 10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside the hospital die because CPR wasn’t performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.
Being able to render first aid to another person is an extremely valuable skill. It can help save the life of a friend, a family member, even a stranger. Plus, being able to perform CPR will make you more confident and useful when you come across emergencies.
4. How to drive a stick shift
The truth is, most cars nowadays are automatic. But this doesn’t matter. Besides the fun and the challenge of driving a stick shift, repairing a manual shift car is less expensive.
When you can drive an automatic and a manual car, you’re more prepared for any situation you might come across. For instance, if you travel overseas and you rent a car, most European cars are stick shift. You might also be in a situation where you’ll need to drive a drunk friend home in a manual car.
5. Parallel parking
There is a reason why parallel parking is often on a driving test. It allows you to park in much smaller spaces. And besides the fact that it stops you from dinging your car, learning parallel parking also stops you from frustrating other drivers. Furthermore, there are many times you have to know how to parallel park to find a parking space at all.
6. Taking constructive criticism
The hard truth is, no one likes to be criticized — constructively or otherwise. But being able to handle the outside view or assessment of others helps you grow and identify weaknesses you can’t see yourself.
None of us are perfect, and a lot of times we can’t see things for ourselves that others can see. Hence, being able to take constructive criticism with a cool head also helps you separate sincere and helpful feedback from noise.
Interesting: 16 Vital Skills Every Man Should Have Before 30
7. The art of giving a compliment
Arthur Schopenhauer once said in his Counsels and Maxims that “Politeness is like a counter — an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.”
Think about it. We all feel good when we receive a compliment. It’s a great way to exchange positive energy. A sincere compliment is a great way to show genuine appreciation for another person. A good man is kind and gracious, and a great way to express your graciousness is giving compliments rightly.
8. How to choose wine
A great skill for a man to have especially as he approaches 40 is how to choose wine. As you learn more about wine, you’ll understand it more, appreciate it more, and consequently enjoy it more. Let’s face it. Social drinking is a way of life, especially in this day and age.
You and those around you will enjoy drinking wine more when you are knowledgeable about it because you’ll be able to easily choose the best wine for others — friends, family, and those dates.
9. Simple clothing fixing
This is a skill you’ll appreciate you’ve acquired when the time arises. There are going to be times when you have a clothing emergency but can’t make it to a tailor or get someone else to do it for you.
Learn skills like fixing a button, replacing drawing string, fixing zipper issues, or being able to patch a small hole. When you have an unforeseen clothing emergency, you’ll be glad you learned how to do simple clothing fixes.
10. How to manage stress
Stress affects us both mentally and physically, and knowing how to manage stress helps your mind and your body work more efficiently. We are all going to come across stressful situations from time to time, it’s unavoidable. But learning how to manage it better greatly improves the quality of your life. It makes you happier, healthier, and more productive.
11. How to do proper push-ups
One great thing about push-ups is that you can do it anywhere without any equipment.
As a man, this is a skill you should learn at a much earlier age, but you surely want to have mastered it by 40. A proper push-up is an invaluable exercise, and it’s one of the best ways to build and tone your upper body. Done properly, it builds your packs, triceps, and shoulders. And if done really well can also help your lower back and your core.
Not only does a proper push-up tone you, but it also helps you build strength from carrying the weight of your body.
12. How to give a good massage
Knowing how to give a proper push-up is for your body, this one is for hers. Being able to give a good massage helps you build a deeper connection with a lady both physically and emotionally. If you want to be able to set the mood or have an excuse to get your hands on your woman and make yourself much more memorable, learn how to give a good massage.
13. How to mix a cocktail
If you want to have a dope at-home bar and be a great host, learn how to mix several drinks. And just like a cook needs recipes to make some great meals, a great bartender (even though it’s just at your home) needs a recipe book of drinks.
You don’t need to be able to make twenty different drinks. Maybe five to eight will get the job done. A dry martini, a manhattan, the classic margarita, and maybe some daiquiris should be enough to get you started.
Interesting: 5 Defining Traits of a High-Value Man
14. How to garden
There is no better way to have a self-sustaining method to feed yourself and your family than learning how to garden. Besides the vital fact that it’s a great way of controlling what you put in your body, it’s a great way to relieve stress and save money on your food budget.
15. How to speak a foreign language
In a time where you have to be globally competitive, being able to speak a foreign language doesn’t just help you stand out, you’re also able to better relate with others when you can speak their language.
Learning a foreign language doesn’t just help you get a better perspective of another culture, it also feeds your brain and helps advance your career. It’s a great skill to have both on a personal and professional level.
16. How to manage your finances
By the age of 40, you are probably making more money than you’ve ever had, and there’s a probability you’ll hit financial bumps from time to time. Hence, you need to know how to manage your money.
There are certain things you need to especially pay attention to when it comes to managing your money.
First, live by a budget: Make sure you’ve built an emergency fund of at least 5 to 8 months’ living expenses. Start paying down your debt. And after paying your debt, invest. After you have all these under control, then have some fun with your money.
Of course, managing your money is more complicated than this, but understanding this basic point is a great place to start.
17. The art of networking
A large determinant of how your life will turn out both career-wise and health-wise depends greatly on the kind of connection you have.
When you’re networking, you’re putting yourself in situations that are mutually beneficial for everyone within your social reach. You exchange information, knowledge, contact, you give and receive advice, and you might learn about a new business opportunity.
Generally, you’ll get much farther in life professionally if you master the skill of networking.
18. How to cook eggs
But why eggs specifically?
There’s so much you can do with eggs. You can boil them, scramble them, fry them, etc. And besides the fact that eggs are comfort foods, being able to make eggs is easy and repeatable. Even if you are a guy who is intimidated by cooking, eggs are simple and easy to master.
Drawing is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for 320,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.
Swimming is dangerous, and, understandably, most people never learn to do it because they are afraid. But what’s even more dangerous is not knowing how to swim.
Furthermore, if you don’t know how to swim, you’ll always be afraid when you’re around deep water. And when you’re on a boat, you’ll be afraid of falling out. A man is supposed to be a protector, and this doesn’t make you look good.
20. The ability to evolve
One of the ways we can become the best version of ourselves is by constantly learning, evolving, and growing. Of course, no one expects you to have every skill mastered. None of us do.
But if you work on learning or developing some or all of these skills, you’ll be a better version of yourself. As Jordan Peterson wrote in 12 Rules For Life,
“You are by no means all that you already know. You are also all that which you could know, if you would.”