We all get some kind of education in early life, but it’s amazing how impractical a lot of it is! By the time you turn eighteen, you might know the symbolism in Macbeth like the back of your hand or all the major dates of the civil rights movement, but not that much about living a comfortable adult life. With more and more people living at home well into their twenties, there’s a massive demand for some practical, applicable advice for living independently. The following is a list of some of the most important life skills everyone needs to be an independent adult.
Accepting Criticism Gracefully
For the majority of people, it can be hard to hear how we’ve made a mistake in some piece of work or could have done something much better. One extremely valuable skill, which you can only really learn by applying it and practicing, is putting your emotions to one side at any given moment, and focussing objectively on the facts that are in front of you. Some of it will be helpful and some of it won’t, but you should let the logical part of your brain make the decisions, and not the random impulses of your ego. Depending on the kind of criticism you receive, there’ll be different ways for you to respond with a calm, collected manner. Again, you can only really learn to do this through trying different methods of coping, and figuring out what works best for you.
Good Time Management
Past the age of 20, there are probably going to be very few times in your life when you’re not juggling a range of both professional and personal responsibilities. Unless you’re fine with feeling constantly stressed and worn-out, developing time management skills is an absolute must. Perhaps the most important thing about time management that any adult should learn is to focus on one task at a time. Research has shown that multitasking is actually counter-productive, (yes, regardless of your gender!) because our brain spends more energy as it adjusts from one activity to the next. It’s also wise, if possible, to put a cap on the hours you spend at work. Henry Ford revolutionized HR standards by discovering that productivity declines in businesses where employees log more than 40 hours in a week. If you’re working yourself too hard, you’ll only make it tougher to really throw yourself into any personal projects or chores you have on your list.
Drafting, and Sticking to, a Budget
These days, it’s amazing how so many people in their twenties can’t manage various simple jobs to do with managing personal finances. These include balancing checkbooks, filling out tax returns, and generally making sure they’ve got more money coming in than going out. Adult life presents all kinds of new facets to your personal finances, from owning credit cards to flat and house rental to childcare to saving for retirement. The sooner you get a good handle on all these different money issues, the more comfortable your future life will be. Yes, it can be hard to resist the temptation to buy things you know you shouldn’t. However, being self-disciplined with money, and planning your personal finances out effectively, ultimately leads to much more satisfaction in life.
Making Friends, Wherever You Are
Though it may not always feel that way, forming positive relationships with complete strangers is a skill. If you want to develop it, you’ll need to exercise this skill like a muscle, rather than simply leaving things to chance. It’s relatively easy to form close relationships with others when you’re at school and university, but once you leave the campus and get into the world of work, things become much more challenging. Making friends, in any environment, is something you need to learn to do in young adulthood. If you have trouble coming out of your shell, studies have shown that one of the best ways to develop relationships as an adult is to confide in people. Disclosing confidences with others is very conducive to a likable persona, closeness, and general relationship-building.
Learning to Like Being Alone
Everyone’s more naturally introverted or extroverted, that’s just a fact of life. However, as a grown adult, you should be able to go a full day alone, without losing your sanity for want of social interaction! It’s tough being apart from those we love, but it’s going to happen to almost all of us at one point or another. One of the best ways to learn to like being alone is self-exploration, and taking some time to be a little more selfish than you’d usually be. Come up with a list of things that you know you can enjoy with no one to enjoy it with. Visit a quirky museum with a focus that only you’re interested in, watch a movie that only you’d enjoy, or even see a show that fits your acquired tastes. Yes, you’ll still feel lonely from time to time, but learning to deal with it is a bridge you’ll need to cross, sooner or later.
No, we’re not talking about microwavable ready-meals here! You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsey to source good ingredients, follow a recipe, and try out different seasonings. By the time you’re thirty (at the latest!) you should really have a few go-to dishes that you can whip up in any well-stocked kitchen, confident in the way it’s going to turn out. A cooked breakfast, a veggie dish, something easy enough to serve to a group of people, and a couple of desserts should all be in your repertoire. When you can prepare these dishes without ever touching Google, you’ll have one more thing under your belt that qualifies you as an adult!
There you have a list of some of the most important skills every adult needs for living alone. If you’re missing a few or a lot, don’t feel bad about it! Simply by reading this, you’re doing more than a lot of people your age!