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Updated: Feb 19, 2022

How many of the following have you ticked off in your twenties?

Words: Jonathan Wells

Ah, your roaring twenties. Kicked off with a big, brash twenty-first birthday party, it’s a decade that begins with such promise. But then, as you graduate, delve into the world of work and inevitably settle down, it’s common to find yourself approaching the big 3-0 as a shadow of your former self.

Thankfully, to combat these late-twenties blues, we’ve amassed a list of things that you can do to spice up this exciting decade. From buying a tailored suit to climbing a mountain, these are the 30 things every discerning gentleman should have done by the time he’s 30. So get ready to tick off, and make plans to complete those that have as yet evaded you…

1. Climb a mountain

We may as well start with a big one — literally. Climbing a mountain takes patience and skill, as well as physical strength, so it’s a good test of your mettle, and something every self-respecting gentleman should tick off his list before 30.

And we’re not talking Everest, necessarily. Any old mountain will do. Just make sure you do the obligatory hands-on-hips take-in-the-view sigh when you get to the top.

2. Invest in a piece of art Art is long and life is short — or so they say. We’d argue that it’s more than that. Today, art is a global currency, and the right piece can fetch tens of millions.

So what are you waiting for? Be it a whirl around a local art fair or a big spend at a high-end auction house. In ten years time, you could be thanking us…

3. Go skydiving

It’s said that if you haven’t bungee-jumped or skydived before you’re 30, you never will. Our advice, then, is simple; do it. Skydiving would be our chosen pursuit — throwing yourself out of a plane and falling two miles to the ground. You’ll feel just like an action hero, and that’s what we all secretly want…

4. Learn how to master a signature dish And steak doesn’t count. We mean a proper, classic dish that you can whip up for dinner parties, entertaining the in-laws or impressing the boss.

Whether it’s a perfect carbonara, an impeccably-made Massaman curry or a flawless Doro Wat — don’t know it? You’re missing out… — throw on your apron and get those culinary skills honed.

5. Buy one tailored suit

Because nothing looks as good. And, even if you’re only going to invest in one tailored suit in your lifetime, it makes sense to get it early on. That way, you can make the most out of it. But remember: Keep it simple. You’ll regret that floral pink print the first time you have to throw it on for a funeral…

6. Travel to at least three continents Europe, Australasia and Africa? North America, Antarctica and Asia? Africa, South America and Europe? There’s seven to choose from, and if you’ve visited at least three before you hit the big three-o, you’re well on your way to conquering the world.

And, with the different cultures, peoples, food and landscapes you can find, there’s truth in the maxim; travel really does broaden the mind.

7. Learn another language well enough to flirt It’s said that the measure of learning another language well is making a native speaker laugh. We disagree, as surely flirting is the gold standard of proving your lingo skills?

Opt for a romantic language to this end, something latin such as French, Spanish or Italian. Then unleash your newfound tongue next time you take a trip.

8. Ride a horse Who doesn’t watch westerns and feel a twinge of jealousy? We know we do. Be it Eastwood or Wayne, whenever anyone canters across the silver screen, we all have secret desire to saddle up and ride off into the sunset ourselves. So why not do it? Just leave the chaps and spurs at home…

9. Read a great (though not necessarily celebrated) work of literature

No-one’s going to be impressed at a dinner party if you tell them you’ve read Ulysses or War & Peace. They’ll likely just think you pretentious — and thoroughly predictable.

Instead, when conversation turns to literature, ensure you can surprise them with a little-known classic — anything from Wilde to Woolf, Conrad to Kipling.

10. Win a game of chess

This is harder than it sounds. Not only do shockingly few people under 30 even know how to play chess, but the game’s popularity has waned since the seventies heydays of Spassky vs Fischer.

And then, even if you do find someone who has knowledge of the rules, a chess set and a want to play you, you have to win. Thought this was a simple one? Checkmate.

11. Reach out to one of your heroes They say you should never meet your heroes, but we disagree. If you admire someone, they should stand up to scrutiny — and offer you advice that will better your life.

So, whoever they may be and however you may contact them — even a letter is better than nothing — reach out and reaffirm why you respected them so much in the first place.

12. Become a mentor to somebody else, even if just for a week One of the key parts about growing into a man is assuming responsibility and imparting knowledge. With a whole new younger generation beginning to their mark on the world, it’s a key time to take someone under your wing and show them the ropes of a hobby, career or skill.

Doubtlessly someone did the same for you, and you wouldn’t be where you are today without them…

13. Learn how to make one cocktail really well

Just one. That’s not really that hard. There are a lot to choose from, after all. So, whether it’s an Amaretto Highball, a Death in the Afternoon, a Pisco Sour or a Black Russian, buy the barware you need to craft it, invest in a couple of bottles and practice until it’s perfect. You’ll be the toast of any party.

14. Learn to drive Even if you grew up in a city, driving is a skill every gent should have under his belt.

15. Find a pub to call home

Of course, this depends on where you find yourself, but every discerning gent needs a good local — an armchair in the corner that others know not to sit in, and a landlord who knows your usual the minute you breeze in the door.

Look for studded leather, a dark wood bar and some sort of old hunting weapon mounted above the optics. Then settle in and raise a glass.

16. Go to the opera, even if you never return Opera. It’s a word that can strike fear into even the most cultured of hearts. But, if there’s one leap you should take before you turn 30 — the skydiving above notwithstanding — it’s a trip to the opera. From Rossini to Puccini, Wagner to Strauss, it may be a case of closing your eyes and picking one, but it’s worth taking the chance, even if you never return…

17. Give blood If you’re not already a blood donor, you should be. Your donations are few and far between, it’s an incredibly important public service to undertake and you tend to get a free cup of tea after you’ve given up some of the red stuff. It’s a no-brainer.

18. Host a Sunday roast in your own home Nothing says ‘adulting’ more than juggling a meat, several different dishes of vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, gravy and dessert all at the same time. As such, invite your friends and family around for a huge Sunday roast, put on a great spread and have a lovely time. It’s as easy as that.

19. Go on a shoot Shrug on your Norfolk Shooting Jacket, pull on your Le Chameau Boots and head to the fields — for every gentleman has to go on a shoot every once in a while.

20. Learn to Ski

Because every man should know his way around the slopes. If you haven’t learned to ski in your youth, you’ll inevitably start to worry when you finally do get around to it, and likely won’t make it past the green slopes for fear of dislocating a knee/making a fool out of yourself.

21. Have a favourite whisky And it doesn’t have to be Scotch, either. As long as it’s a delicious dark amber in colour, looks excellent swirling around a lowball with a couple of cubes of ice and tastes like liquid manliness, you’re onto a winner.

22. Make homemade sloe gin Having a favourite whisky is all well and good, but it’s not until you’ve made a spirit yourself that you can sip with the pride of a real drinksmith. Sloes and sugar are all you need to add to the gin, and then you play the waiting game. We’d recommend you save this until Christmas — unless you turn 30 before then…

23. Travel on your own for a week

There’s nothing quite like getting away from it all to clear the mind. And that goes double if you travel on your own. Book your flights, take a trip and really get to know yourself.

But choose your destination carefully; a week alone in Grimsby might do you more harm than good…

24. Cook a steak to perfection It’s a simple one. But everyone should know how to cook a steak to perfection.

25. Own a pair of Goodyear-welted shoes

First up, let’s explain. A Goodyear welt is a strip of leather or rubber that runs along the outside of your outsole.

It’s the mark of a reliable, hard-wearing shoe — and the next pair of shoes you buy simply must have one.

26. Buy property If there’s more of a mark of adulthood, we’d like to see it. Granted, you’ve been living on your own for a while now — or we certainly hope you have been — so you’re a dab hand at household chores and paying bills.

But you should aim to actually buy before you hit 30

27. Place a bet in a casino

You don’t have to tux up and sit by the roulette wheel with a dry martini, but we’d suggest that you head to a casino and place a bet before turning 30.

True, it may not be the most sustainable way of earning money, but there’s a certain fun in the risk of gambling. And, if it pays off, winning is a high unlike no other. Just know when to quit…

28. Find your signature scent It’s another way that you build a persona during your twenties — picking out that singular, signature scent that will stay with you and define you for years to come.

29. Learn at least one song on piano or guitar If you sink your time and effort into learning one song on an instrument, whenever the party is dying down, you’ll come to the rescue and look highly-skilled doing so.

30. Own a Swiss watch that will see you through the next 30 years

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