I asked some of my friends and colleagues for the most important things they’ve learned about being an adult. I certainly don’t have all the answers.
Many of them were excited to share their favorite ideas. Some of these suggestions come from newly-minted grown-ups, or some who are just starting to have the opportunity to find out what life is all about. Others have years of experience.
Pick out a few tips that speak to you. You’ll find something great. This could be the most influential article you read this year.
Stop trying to impress others or shove your opinions down other people’s throats. Instead, work at creating value. Jackie L. from Cheapsters.
Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. Tell and show the people you love how you feel about them because they could be taken from you at any moment. Forgive and let it go. Surround yourself with people who lift you up, not drag you down. Treat everyone with respect. Elaine M.
Make your satisfaction and happiness your first priority. Learn to say no.
Take the long view when making big decisions. These kinds of decisions can be painful at times, but that is, sadly, part of being an adult. Holly J. from Club Thrifty.
Know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, your morals and values, what you hope to achieve and what you want out of life. Deanna H.
Avoid avoidance. Not looking at your bank account doesn’t make the balance bigger. Not paying off your credit card doesn’t make the interest stop accruing. Not discussing difficult things with your significant other doesn’t make the issues disappear. Learn to face things head on, no matter how unpleasant. Rebecca C.
Found your new mantra yet? There’s more!
Don’t stop dreaming. Many people around you will tell you to “grow up.” Adulting doesn’t mean one should abandon those big audacious adolescent goals. As an adult you now have more control in making your dream happen. Jason V. from Phroogal.
Do good, don’t suck. Brittany H.
Read The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet. These books take the stories of Winnie the Pooh and show Pooh to be a master zen philosopher. When you begin to study this philosophy you are taking steps to becoming a more centered, focused adult. Scott B.
See things as others see them. Realize that not everybody who you feel has wronged you did so maliciously, and see that people are generally doing the best they can, just like you. Liz B.
Focus on what you can contribute (to a job, to your relationship, to your community, etc.). Give more than you take. Lindsay J.
Accept personal responsibility. When you recognize how much of a role your own decisions and reactions play in your life, it’s hugely empowering, but not easy. Accept your flaws. But recognizing both the good and the bad within yourself and understanding how much of a part you play in influencing how those strengths and weaknesses manifest in your life is the first step in creating a world which revolves around the former. Stefanie O.
Never forget how to play and blow off steam. Aaron S.
Love the adultier adults who helped you get older. With adulthood comes loss, but also the need for guidance, encouragement, and love remains. Love the ones who got you here and never be afraid to ask them for help. Magdalen S.
Be comfortable with winging it. There isn’t necessarily a single correct way to do something. Figure out what works best for you, and give other people a break. Barb D.
Show up on time. Save just a little bit of money each month. Doing these two simple things can cover a lot of sins in other areas. Julie R. from Working to Live Differently.
From money to family to your job to your overall life philosophy, these tips really make a difference.
Be honest with yourself. Self-deception can be hard to notice and it takes work to root it out. Honesty’s twin need is gentleness. It is easier to be more real with yourself when you are gentle. Alan S. from Real Money.
Pay attention. Being an ostrich isn’t going to help you now or in the future. If you’ve made mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge them, learn from them, and don’t repeat them. Also, read as much as you can. Jana L. from Jana Says.
Realize things are not black and white. True understanding often involves much more complexity than a 21 year old is ready to contemplate. Dig deep and have empathy and realize that sometimes we contradict even ourselves in the same breath. Gina B.
Wean yourself off of the comforts of childhood before jumping right into adult mode. Paul Z.
Remember that the grass is greener where you water it, and comparing yourself to others isn’t an effective measurement as an adult. Melissa Van F.
Learn something from everyone, no matter how much education they have, how old they are, or where they come from. Clayton F.
The world owes you nothing. Just because people fawned over you in high school or college doesn’t mean it’s going to continue in the real world. It takes a lot of hard work to make your mark on the world. Jessica G. from Every Single Dollar.
Change from self-centeredness and growth to selflessness and helping others grow. Make the world around you better through the positive energy you contribute through empathy and caring. Virginia M.
Communicate honestly with your loved ones. Tell the truth about who you are, and what you’re feeling, and listen to them do the same without judgement or fear. Make the world a better place by making your home a better place with clear, honest, loving communication. Casey F.
Just sign up for the 401(k), all right? Worry about getting your money out later. Do your job the best you can, learn about what’s happening around you, and make someone else’s job a little easier. Doug N. from The Military Guide.
Find an idea that makes a difference to you, and write it down. Put the message on your fridge or door or mirror so you see it each day.
Save at least 10% of your income for retirement, starting now, and don’t spend it before then. Also, don’t make excuses. Make changes instead. Empower yourself by accepting responsibility for your current and future situation. Jackie B. from The Debt Myth.
Do what you love, not what is expected of you. Melissa T.
Be patient. It could take 20 years or more to get the life you want. Also, Rediscover the art of discovery. Don’t lose sight of that childlike sense of exploration. Take spontaneous trips, get excited about your birthday, and commit continuously learn. Whitney H.
Get on a budget and stick to it. Also, do the hard thing. Don’t follow the path of least resistance. Jacob W. from iHeartBudgets.
Prepare for the future financially as much as you are living today. Figure out your long-term dreams and create a plan. You will have to do things that are less than desirable to reach the huge milestones. Don’t let those undesirable and painful periods last any longer than they need to be. Elizabeth C. from The Reluctant Landlord.
Learn to be still. You’ll be surprised how good the quiet feels after constant clamor in the outside world. Also, track your expenses and then interrogate them. Was that pizza and beer (plus taxes and tip) with friends really worth two hours’ work at your entry-level position? Donna F. from Surviving and Thriving.
Say no to things that aren’t good for you. Budget, eat healthy, go to bed at a decent time. Take criticism. Work at a job you don’t like because it pays your bills. Take care of yourself, all by yourself. Mindy J. from Bigger Pockets.
Save money, because nobody else will do it for you. Be responsible for yourself. Show up on time, listen, follow directions. Sounds simple, but not doing them will get you fired, will cause you to waste money, will get you in trouble with the government/organization, etc. Robert F. from The College Investor.
Travel far and wide. Nothing makes you appreciate what you have more than interacting with people who don’t. Travel also allows you to find things that you’re passionate about, and really think about ways to make your hustles works. Fahima A.
Take personal responsibility and realize the world isn’t out to get you. You have a part in everything that happens. Also, get life insurance. Glen C. from Free From Broke.
Go forth and adult. You might just conquer the world. Or you might find inner happiness.
Which was your favorite tip? Want to add your own? Comment below.
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