in: Heading Out On Your Own, Manly Know-How, Skills

• Last updated: June 4, 2021

Introducing Heading Out On Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days

Basic life skills man leaving home college illustration.

This article series is now available as a professionally formatted, distraction free paperback or ebook to read offline at your leisure.

Growing up, Dwight D. Eisenhower (yes, Ike again — I couldn’t fit all the great facts about him into our leadership series!) was responsible for many chores around the house and for looking after his younger brothers. When his mother got sick and was quarantined in a room in the house for several months, Ike was responsible for cooking for his whole family — his mother would call directions to him from her bed on how to make the meals (this experience gave Ike a lifelong love of cooking). When Eisenhower graduated from high school, he started working as an engineer in a creamery’s ice plant. He worked 84 hours a week, from six P.M. to six A.M, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Even with his savings, he didn’t want his college education to put any burden on his parents at all, so he decided to apply to the Naval Academy. He and his friend who also hoped to attend a military college, sent away for past entrance examinations, and after working all night, Ike would sleep a few hours and then go over to the gas lighting store where his friend was employed, and together they would study every afternoon before Ike had to be back at the ice plant. Eisenhower ended up at West Point, and when he got there, was able to hit the ground running. That was 1915.

In 2001, I, Brett McKay, graduated from high school and after a summer working at a paint shop, left home to become a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. I had never done my own laundry. I had never cleaned my own bathroom. I had never cooked for myself, unless plates of nachos count. I was a typical middle-class kid from the burbs, and the first time I moved away from home, I floundered. I finished the fall semester with a 2.6 GPA, and moved back home to go to a local college in my hometown.

My parents, God bless ’em, had tried to prepare me for leaving the nest, but they were also willing to do a lot of things for me, and as a teenager lacking foresight, I didn’t see a reason to look the gift horse in the mouth and learn how to do them myself. I eventually learned a lot of the basic life skills I had once been lacking, but I wish I had prepared myself a little better to become independent and self-reliant once I had flown the coop.

Introducing Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days

August begins tomorrow and that means millions of young men around the country will be getting ready to head off to college and/or move out on their own in just one month’s time. In an effort to help our young readers avoid the same hapless mistakes I made, we’ve decided to run a series during the month of August called “Heading Out on Your Own: 31 Basic Life Skills in 31 Days.”

The goal of this series is simple: to help young men heading out on their own for the first time learn some of the very basic life skills they’ll need to succeed once they’re living on their own.

Each day during August we’ll publish one article covering a different basic life skill I wish I had mastered before I left home. We’ll use a variety of formats (text articles, videos, and illustrated guides), and topics will range from personal finance to basic home-ec skills. While we can’t cover every skill a young man needs to know before leaving home in just 31 days, we hope by the end of the month we’ll have covered enough to allow a young man to thrive while living on their own. Even if you’re a young man who has this stuff down pat, it won’t hurt to review it before you head out.

What About Us Old-Timers Who Already Know This Stuff?

If you’re an older reader who’s worried that they’ll have to sit through one month of nothing but basic life skills articles, fear not! This daily series is in addition to our regularly scheduled content (we’re gluttons for pain!). You’ll still find our regular weekly content that’s relevant and of interest to you.

While you may have already mastered the skills we plan on covering, we’d definitely still encourage you to contribute to the discussion on each post. The more insights on each skill, the better.

If you know a young man who would benefit from this series, please send him this way. Encourage him to subscribe to our daily email newsletter or to follow us on Twitter or Facebook so he can get some guidance on getting ready to live on his own.

Any Particular Skills You Think We Need to Cover?

While we have most of the 31 skills already planned out, we’re curious if there are any skills in particular you think we should cover. If so, share them with us in the comments. If we get a lot of good suggestions that don’t make the cut this time around, we might include them for another edition next summer!

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