I wish my school had spent less time teaching Pythagorean theorem and more time showing me how to do my taxes.
Because there are some life skills that we’ve got to know if we are to call ourselves fully-fledged adults.
This article will explore some of the most important essentials.
1) Handling your own finances
When it comes to money, there are upsides and downsides to being fully grown.
On the plus, you have your own money to spend and you get to choose what you spend it on.
That means, if you feel inclined to do so, you can go online and purchase a life-sized cut out of a TV chef at 4 in the morning after one too many beers.
If this example seems a little bit too specific, that’s because an ex of mine once did exactly this.
Which leads me nicely onto the downside…
Being wise with your cash.
Budgeting, managing credit cards, making investments, saving for a rainy day — the reality is that money shows up in every area of our lives.
So we’ve got to know how to handle it.
2) Cooking for yourself
My mom was a terrible cook, and she had a full-time job, so luckily, this is one I had to figure out pretty quickly for myself.
I’m not the best chef in the world, that’s for sure, but I know the basics.
With so many options out there these days, you may argue that you can live on takeout for the rest of your adult life.
But being able to feed yourself is pretty fundamental.
It’s also going to help if you get to grips with basic nutrition and have enough willpower to fuel yourself the right way.
Every kid dreams of the day when they can eat as much candy as they want. But part of being an adult is knowing that even though you can, you definitely shouldn’t.
You’re not an adult unless you have a basic toolkit in the house.
Mine’s nothing fancy, but every fully-fledged adult needs a hammer and screwdriver under the sink.
Whilst you don’t need the skills to remodel your home single-handed, you should be able to hang a picture and change a light bulb.
Not to mention those thankless tasks we can’t ignore within the home like vacuuming, general cleaning, sewing, laundry, etc.
4) How to do life admin
Some days life admin can feel like a full-time job.
Your time can get eaten away with little to-do’s that seem to mount up.
- Making appointments
- Replying to emails
- Paying bills
- Running errands
- Filling paperwork
- Making applications
Unless you’re very rich and willing to pay someone to take the 1001 things that can crop up off your hands, you better brush up on your organizational skills.
5) How to communicate effectively
Of course, not all life skills are practical tasks that we’ve got to get to grips with. Plenty are interpersonal.
Perhaps none are more useful than how effectively we communicate.
I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of so-called adults who fall down on this one.
That includes things like:
- Public speaking
- Phone and email etiquette
- Presenting information
- Being able to express yourself (verbally and in writing)
- Knowing how to offer your opinions
- Showing tact
- Resolving disagreements
- Being able to speak up for yourself
6) How to say no
Whilst we’re on the subject of self-advocacy, learning how to say no is another essential you’ll need in your life skills toolbelt.
It’s way harder to do sometimes than we may imagine. It demands clear boundaries and plenty of self-esteem.
Too many of us do things we really don’t want to out of people-pleasing tendencies.
But everything we say yes to in life, demands we say no to something else.
If you can’t master this two-letter word, you’ll end up with way too much on your plate.
Either that, or you’ll unwittingly live your life based on what others expect of you rather than how you want to.
7) Standing on your own two feet
Don’t get me wrong, we all need support. It’s okay to lean on people and ask for help.
But that doesn’t absolve you of the need to go out into the world and make your own way in life.
That means covering the basics like:
- Moving out of your folk’s place
- Getting a job
- Earning your own money to support yourself
- Deciding what you want to do with your life
It also means tackling your own problems.
That demands a lot of self-responsibility. We’ve got to deep down believe that our life is up to us, and nobody else will save us.
Adults who don’t take this approach tend to fall into victimhood. They may seek to blame everyone and everything rather than roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Knowing how to negotiate means getting to grips with some really useful underlying skills:
- Conflict resolution
- Emotional intelligence
- Decision making
But I think one of the most challenging aspects for many of us is finding the confidence to back ourselves.
Yet, learning how to strike a deal is super important if we don’t want to be walked all over.
Without it, we’ll be ripped off on rent by unscrupulous landlords or we’ll go years without a raise because we were too afraid to ask.
9) Managing your time
In some ways, my time management isn’t so bad. I’m rarely late when I’m due to meet someone.
But in other ways, it sucks.
I can get quickly overwhelmed with having too many things to do in the day. I seriously don’t know how some people find the time to cram so much in!
Being an adult for most of us means juggling a variety of priorities. Learning which are most important is essential.
Because research has proven that multi-tasking is a no-no. It only makes us less productive in the long run, rather than more.
10) Knowing how to make small talk
As an introvert, chit-chat has always been my nemesis.
But I know that it’s also a vital social lubricant that we must learn within polite society.
As painstaking as it can feel for some of us, it’s how we build rapport and create a connection.
Being able to strike up a conversation with anyone you meet warms people to you, and that ultimately opens doors in life.
11) Emotional intelligence
I can think of plenty of people with incredibly high IQs who seem fairly dumb to me.
Because despite their big brains, they are lacking in awareness, empathy, and basic relationship skills.
Some grown-ups never seem to grow out of their childish tantrums — and that’s predominantly because they are lacking in emotional intelligence.
It’s this that allows us to understand and manage our feelings, as well as get to grips with other people’s.
Your level of EQ rests on:
- Social awareness
- Intrinsic motivation
Learning to be a better person isn’t a class we take a school, it’s something we’ve got to learn out in the real world.
12) Planning for the future
I’m not suggesting you have to have it all mapped out.
I’m not talking about having your retirement plan set by the time you’re twenty.
The truth is that plans change as we change anyway. But thinking ahead is important.
Where do you want to be this time next year?
That way, you can ask yourself what needs to be done for you to get there.
Goals and dreams rarely just fall into place. We have to lay the groundwork through some all-important action.
And that demands that we ask ourselves some deeper questions about what we want out of life.
I guess none of us are truly adults
How did you measure up?
Chances are you’re missing at least some of the life skills on our list. I know I am.
Being a grown-up is hard work. Nobody hands you an instruction manual when you come of age.
I once saw a meme of a dog with his leash in his mouth taking himself for a walk.
The captain read: What being an adult feels like.
I think the point is that adults, just like kids, are always learning and growing. And that’s not only okay, it’s how we ensure we’re constantly evolving.