List of 40 Essential Things to Learn Before You Die


Cake values integrity and transparency. We follow a strict editorial process to provide you with the best content possible. We also may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more in our affiliate disclosure.

While most of us learn the basics of caring for ourselves as we grow up, nobody knows everything. As the saying goes, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.” That being said, there’s a list of things that are considered essential to living life to the fullest.

Jump ahead to these sections:

These aren’t just things that make life a little bit easier. They also make life better. Here’s the ultimate list of essential things to learn before you die. Add these to your bucket list to lead a better, fuller life. 

New Useful Skills to Learn in Your Lifetime

To start, let’s explore some of the skills that are the most useful. While anyone can define something as useful to them, there are some things that are universal.

» MORE: Join our membership program and take control of your end-of-life planning while saving money on your funeral expenses. Explore Memberships

1. Cooking

The first skill worth learning is how to cook. This doesn’t mean you need to invest in expensive, fancy courses at a culinary institute.

What’s essential is that you learn the basics of cooking. This includes knife skills, proper cooking techniques, and so on. From there, learn to master a few of your favorite recipes. That’s all there is to it! 

2. Research

Research is one of those things we often leave behind when we graduate school. Knowing how to search for things yourself and assess different sources has never been more valuable. 

With more media outlets than ever before, it’s vital that you know how to do your own research. 

3. Basic handiwork

What did you do the last time something broke in your home? Did you leave it indefinitely, or call someone to fix it for you?

While there’s no shame asking for help (especially with big projects), you can benefit greatly from learning some basic schools when it comes to fixing things around the house. 

4. How to change a tire

Along those same lines, do you know how to change a tire? It’s not as complicated as it might seem. Your car likely has all of the equipment you need in your trunk.

At least, it should. From there, it’s a matter of following a few basic steps to swap the flat tire with the spare. You’ll be back on the road in no time. 

5. Emergency preparedness

There’s nothing more valuable than knowing how to handle a number of common emergencies. Things like fire safety, injuries, and natural disasters can be managed much more effectively if you know what you expect. 

6. Cleaning skills

Everyone has different ideas about cleanliness. However, learning the basics of cleaning like how to make your bed, do laundry, and keep your dishes clean is an essential part of being an adult. 

7. Sewing

Instead of tossing that pair of pants that ripped, you could repair them yourself. All you need is a basic sewing kit, and you’re ready to go.

There are plenty of online videos and tutorials that show you the basics of hand sewing. 

8. Scheduling

Scheduling is a type of emotional labor. Even though it doesn’t leave your body tired, it can leave your mind exhausted if you’re not used to it. Scheduling with a clock and a calendar is at the foundation of time management. 

9. Public speaking

There’s a reason public speaking is one of the most common fears. It’s intimidating to get up in front of people and speak about something important. That being said, this is an essential skill to master. 

10. Communication

Learning how to speak clearly, say what you mean, and to relate to others is one of the most important things you can learn. Your relationships will grow stronger, and you’ll feel yourself being heard.

Unique or Niche Things to Learn 

If you’re willing to expand your boundaries, there are a lot of niche things worth learning. These lead to an open mind and broadened perspectives.

11. Ancestry 

Have you ever wondered where you come from? Taking the time to learn about your family history is one of the most rewarding things you could do.

With so many online tools nowadays, it’s easier than ever to start turning back the clock. 

And if you're interested in unique ways to honor a loved one, consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.

12. Map reading

If you’ve ever found yourself in a new subway system or without cell service, you know why reading a map is so essential. Find a safe place, pack some maps, and see if you can make your way home. No GPS needed!

13. Debt payoff

While this might not be a necessity for everyone, learning how to properly budget for a debt payoff journey can be incredibly valuable. 

Getting into debt is easy. Getting out is the hard part. Learning about different debt payoff methods could come in handy. 

14. Reading

While you might read regularly, how often do you pay attention to your comprehension skills?

Taking the time to read for fun and talk with others about what you’ve read is the best way to strengthen these skills. There are so many books to read before you die to get you started. 

» PRESERVE YOUR LEGACY: Pre-planning your funeral can also be an opportunity to preserve your legacy and ensure that you're remembered the way you want to be. From selecting a special memorial to leaving behind a personal message, pre-planning allows you to create a lasting tribute that reflects your values and beliefs. Explore Memberships

15. How to coupon

Couponing became quite the trend thanks to shows like Extreme Couponing. Don’t worry, you don’t have to take it this far to get a feel for coupons. Who doesn’t love saving money? While it might take some time to browse for the best coupons, it’s worth it. 

16. Organization

We’ve all struggled to find important documents when we need them most. Learning the basics of organization is the best way to avoid this pitfall.

Not only can you organize your financial and personal documents, but you’ll be better equipped for your career. 

17. Computer skills

Most of us use technology on a daily basis. Learning how to navigate the internet and perform basic troubleshooting has never been more important. 

18. End-of-life planning

Do you know what it takes to prepare your end-of-life plan? While most of us don’t confront these questions until we lose a loved one, it’s important to plan. 

This refers to creating a will, organizing your important documents, and talking to your loved ones about your end-of-life wishes. By doing so, you’ll become more death positive

19. Baking

Who doesn’t love sweet treats? Learning how to bake a few things from scratch will make you not only the most popular person at any party, it’s the perfect way to spend time with loved ones. 

20. Sports

Whether you learn how to play or watch a sport, learning the ins and outs of a particular activity is a great way to feel a part of something. Sports include a built-in community of fans and players alike.

Fun Skills or Things to Learn in Your Free Time

Who said life was about all work and no play? Here are the best fun skills to learn in your free time. They’re guaranteed to make your life a bit brighter!

21. Self-care  

Self-care is more than just a trend. Learning to take care of yourself is essential. With so many things going on in our lives, taking some time to put yourself first makes all the difference. 

22. New language

The world is a smaller place than ever. One way to tap into new parts of the globe is to start learning a new language.

Whether you’ve always wanted to speak French, German, or something more exotic, now is the time to learn. 

23. Gardening

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can try your hand at gardening. As long as you have the basics and some patience, you could start growing your own food in any space. 

24. Photography

Your Instagram is about to get quite the boost! As long as you’ve got a creative mind and know a few things about lighting and angles, you can become a photo pro.

25. Self-defense

Nothing feels better than knowing that you’re able to protect yourself if you need to. Most martial arts studios have basic lessons for those hoping to put their body to the test. 

26. Dancing

Though you might have spent your college years bopping around on the dancefloor, how much do you really know about dancing? If you’ve never taken any formal lessons, they could be more valuable than you think. 

27. Start a fire

Unless you plan to join a reality survival show, you probably won’t need to know how to start a fire by hand. Yet, that doesn’t make it any less cool to learn.

All you need is friction, airflow, kindling, and something to hold the flame. 

28. Meditation

Practicing mindfulness and meditation is easier said than done, but it’s worth taking the time to explore. Start using a meditation app or guided video to get the feel for it. 

» MORE: Don't wait until it's too late, take control of your end-of-life planning and pre-plan your funeral today. Explore Memberships

29. Positive thinking

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with negativity, especially in times of change. Learning to accept things as they come without any bad feelings isn’t easy.

Taking the time to practice positive thinking every day makes life a little bit better. 

30. Help the planet

With so many ways to improve this planet nowadays, where do you begin? Start with a few new practices, like bringing your own bags to the grocery store or saving on utilities. 

Skills to Learn That’ll Help You With School or Your Career

Finally, some skills help you get ahead in your school or career life. These are one of the ways to sharpen your saw and become a stronger worker. 

31. Leadership

A strong leader isn’t just the loudest person in the room. They’re the ones who know how to take responsibility, command respect, and put in the hard work. 

32. How to write

Writing isn’t just for English class. No matter your profession, learning how to write professionally and competently takes you far.

From daily emails to writing reports, strong writing always stands out. 

33. Cover letter and resume etiquette

There’s an art to writing an effective cover letter and resume. Not only do you need to know what employers are looking for, but you need to be an advocate for yourself. This takes practice, but it’s worth it. 

34. Cybersecurity

The internet is a vast place. Not everyone has the best intentions. Knowing how to protect your identity and data online goes a long way, especially with so many employers worried about data breaches. 

35. Typing

If you’re still stumbling along in your typing, it’s time to go back to the basics. Practicing regularly using the proper home keys is the best way to gain speed as a typist, and this will only help you. 

36. Take responsibility

When something goes wrong, we naturally want to deflect blame. Learning how to own up when the responsibility falls on your shoulders shows a lot about your maturity and professionalism. 

36. Time management

Anyone who says they’re good at multitasking is lying to themselves. Instead, focus on practicing strong time management skills.

Knowing how to work efficiently shows your leaders that you know how to get work done on time. 

37. Critical thinking

Problems pop up frequently at school and in the workplace. Do you run to others for help or think through these things yourself? If your answer is the former, it’s time to work on your critical thinking skills. 

38. Work-life balance

With the workday sometimes creeping over 8 hours, it’s important to know how to manage both your work and personal life.

Those who value both working and personal time are the ones who have a more positive outlook on the workday. 

39. Creativity

Creativity is becoming more and more important as we continue to face new challenges at work and school. Those who know how to think outside the box stand a better chance of making a real difference. 

40. Team player

Last but not least, learn how to be a team player. Even if you work better by yourself, knowing how to work well with others and ensure nobody feels overlooked goes a long way.

Add More Skills to Your Life

We don’t stop learning once we graduate. Learning is a life-long process, and we all benefit from an open mind. Whether you want to get to know your family by looking at your ancestry or become a stronger typist, these skills are a great starting point. 

There are no one-size-fits-all skills, but these suit just about any situation. From work to your personal life, it’s always good to work towards a new goal. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.