So, you want to grow up.
You want to become an adult.
You want to be mature.
But you don’t know how.
Right now you’re not grown up. You don’t act like an adult. You aren’t mature.
And because you are not these things, you can’t see the path to becoming them.
Fortunately for you, this article will explore the core fundamentals of growing up into a mature adult.
It will look at the various ways that you can complete your development from childhood to adulthood – no matter how old you might already be.
Are you ready to begin?
13 Lessons On How To Be A Grown Up
The word ‘lessons’ has been chosen specifically because you do actually have to learn how to do these things.
Just as a baby learns to walk and a child learns to read and write, you must learn to do and think things in certain ways that reflect a more adult and mature person.
These things will not come overnight. But nor does walking or talking or any other skill magically evolve in a day.
Everything requires practice if you are to master it.
But you have learned how to do a great many things, and you can learn how to do these things too.
1. Learn about cause and effect.
Perhaps the most important thing to learn about being an adult is that your actions have consequences.
The actions of today lead to the outcomes of tomorrow.
This holds true in every aspect of life.
The way you treat others can be seen in how they treat you and who wants to be a part of your life.
The way you treat yourself will have potential physical and mental health implications later in life.
The effort you put in at work will play a role in the development of your career.
Your management of your finances today will impact the life you will be able to lead tomorrow.
The present moment may be the only thing that truly exists, but your future is built upon the foundations you have laid in the past.
Once you understand this, you are called to think about the actions you are taking and what their potential consequences may be.
You can still be spontaneous. You are free to choose your path.
But as an adult, you do so with greater awareness of where that path may lead and whether that is a place you wish to go.
2. Learn the importance of hard work.
A side-effect of understanding cause and effect is that you see the value and necessity of hard work.
Life rarely serves up your hopes and dreams on a plate. You have to put in the effort to achieve them.
This is not to say that all work is effective work, or that work is enough by itself.
But most things of worth require you to put in the hours.
As was pointed out above, if you want to learn how to do something, you will have to practice it.
This takes time and dedication. It takes hard work.
And there are many things in life that will demand that we try hard if we are to succeed at them.
Careers, pastimes, skills, health – they all require your mental and physical energy.
As do relationships, both personal and professional. You can’t expect to build and maintain a bond with someone without giving them your time and attention.
The basics of a happy life are not all that complicated. But that’s not to say they are easy.
If you want to grow up, you need to appreciate the value of hard work.
3. Learn self-reliance.
As a child, you rely on your parents or guardians for many things.
They provide the roof over your head, the food on your plate, and the care and nurturing you need.
They may still provide these things as you get older, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning how to be as self-reliant as your situation allows.
Being an adult means looking after yourself, because one day soon, you might have to.
When that day comes, you have two choices:
1. Fall back on the shortcuts that allow you to survive.
2. Learn how to do the things that allow you to thrive.
Take what you eat, for example. You could live off pre-prepared microwave meals and takeouts, or you could learn how to cook dishes from scratch.
The former is a shortcut that keeps you fed physically, but it restricts you to a great degree.
The latter is a form of liberation that allows you to develop a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
The same goes for most other things that an adult has to do on a somewhat regular basis.
Do you know how to plan a journey? Can you change a light bulb? Can you work the washing machine?
Sure, these are not things that you necessarily enjoy doing, but they will often have to be done.
If you can’t do them effectively, you are going to struggle to cope by yourself.
4. Learn emotional self-regulation.
It’s not just the practical areas where you have to develop self-reliance.
Emotionally, too, you need to learn how to get by without the direct input of others.
You need to know how to be your own source of happiness, how to deal with your fears, and how to cope with the emotional impact of the circumstances you face.
No one else can do these things for you. People might be able to help, but you will ultimately be the one to process and influence your emotions.
In psychology, this is known as self-regulation. It is the ability to control the way you think and act in order to foster emotions that lead to a positive outcome.
This might mean staying calm when faced with an upsetting situation. Or to control an impulse that may not be in your best interests.
Self-regulation is a vital skill to learn as an adult. It will help you to prosper in your relationships, manage stress effectively, and deal with unexpected events.
The alternative is to let your emotions rule your life.
Knee-jerk reactions to people and situations are rarely helpful. Neither is the holding on to thoughts and feelings that do not serve you.
5. Learn to plan, organize, and prioritize.
‘Adulting’ can be a complex business. With so many responsibilities, it’s important to have some sort of plan.
Reliability is a big part of being an adult. Partners, friends, family members, and colleagues need to know that you will do the things you say you’ll do.
Bills need paying. Kids need picking up from school. Work deadlines need to be met.
Managing to do all of these things doesn’t just happen. It takes mental and practical preparation.
It takes a plan. It takes organization. It requires you to prioritize so that the most important things get done 100% of the time and the rest as often as possible.
Sure, you’ll slip up from time to time. Everyone does. But get those critical tasks done and people will be a lot more forgiving.
The most important part is knowing what your responsibilities are toward others – and toward yourself.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you are supposed to do, chances are you will forget to do it.
So make a list, look at that list, and do what needs to be done.
6. Learn to take responsibility for things.
On a similar note, part of growing up is being held accountable for your actions – or inaction.
When you do something, you have to understand that this is a choice that you make and not something that simply happens to you.
And a choice has multiple outcomes. When you choose a particular outcome, you are responsible for it.
You need to take responsibility for it.
You need to accept that whether that outcome proves good or bad, you were the instigator.
And you have to take responsibility for your life in general. You are the person who has the greatest influence over the direction your life takes.
Sure, external factors play their part, but you have some degree of control more often than not.
When something happens that isn’t what you had hoped, the mature person looks and asks what they could have done differently.
They learn from their mistakes and act differently the next time they are faced with similar circumstances.
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7. Learn to delay gratification and consider opportunity costs.
On the subject of choices, every one has an opportunity cost.
To put it simply, the opportunity cost of a choice is all those things that you could have done instead.
So if you choose to spend $100 on a trip to a nice Italian restaurant, that is $100 you can no longer spend on something else.
Or if you spend your Saturday watching a baseball game, you can’t spend that time tending to the garden or going to the beach.
Opportunity costs can also come in the future. So by spending $100 today, you forego receiving $120 back with interest after a few years in a savings account.
So one potential choice you can make is to delay gratification.
That means not doing something today in the knowledge that you will benefit more in the future by doing so.
Saving money today to spend it on something tomorrow is the obvious example.
Another is to resist the temptation of an unhealthy snack or alcoholic drink in favor of your long term health.
Even the hard work discussed above can be a form of delayed gratification if you are forfeiting a pleasurable activity in order to complete a task.
8. Learn to have courage in your convictions.
As a child and adolescent, we are often swayed by others.
This can be a good thing as it teaches us compromise and cooperation.
But it also has its downsides.
Young people can often be found following the crowd and trying to fit in and be popular.
And while that can be an effective short term strategy to find your way in life, it doesn’t work so well in the long term.
Mature adults are those who are willing to speak their own truth and be the type of person they wish to be. To be themselves.
They form identities around their own beliefs and morals, not around those of the crowd.
They are truly honest with themselves about what matters most and how they should act to live in accordance with that identity.
They may hope that people treat them fairly and respectfully, but beyond that they are not overly concerned with what people think of them.
9. Learn to be open-minded.
On the flip side, maturity brings with it the ability to see other people’s perspectives and be open to different ways of thinking.
True adults are not so pigheaded as to think they are right all of the time.
Instead, they are able to listen to views and opinions that differ from their own.
They may even adopt a new belief based upon what they have learned, if the arguments are strong enough.
Growing up also means being flexible in practical terms too. You can no longer expect to get your way all of the time. You must consider that other people have a say.
So if you want to go see a movie, but your partner would prefer to visit a museum, you have to be willing to bow to their wishes some of the time.
You cannot be stubborn and demand to get your way by throwing a tantrum. That’s what a child does, but you want to be an adult, right?
10. Learn healthy conflict resolution.
The previous point brings us nicely onto the subject of conflict.
You see, a compromise begins with a conflict. You want to do one thing and the other person wants to do something different.
Part of being in a grown up relationship is to discuss things like adults and reach a sensible conclusion that will work for the both of you over time.
But conflict is not always so straightforward.
Sometimes you will do something that another person finds unpleasant or unkind and they may call you out on it.
Or vice versa.
This disagreement gives rise to an argument. These are a fairly common occurrence in life.
How you approach an argument says a lot about how mature you are.
Healthy conflict resolution involves communicating calmly. It involves empathy and seeing the other person as a fallible human being.
It should not descend into name calling or accusations. It should not become heated. It should not be left to linger and fester for a prolonged period of time.
11. Learn to communicate effectively.
As was just touched on, communication is a vital skill to learn if you are to maintain healthy relationships in your life.
As an adult, you need to be able to express your needs, wishes, and opinions effectively.
But you also need to be able to listen and to take on board what other people say rather than just listening to respond.
You need to process what the other person has said, how they have said it, and the context in which they have said it
You need to read the subtle messages their face and body may have communicated.
And you need to act in a way that shows that you have understood what they have said.
Communication binds us together, but it can also go wrong and drive us apart.
Part of being a grown up is learning the best ways to communicate at any given time, even if that means holding back your opinion.
12. Learn to consider the other person.
The previous three points all have something in common: another person.
Another key component of creating and maintaining lasting bonds of all kinds is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Ask what they are thinking or feeling and why they are thinking or feeling that way.
That is empathy at its most basic.
But it goes beyond reacting to someone’s mood. It involves giving basic consideration to the other person’s feelings when you do something.
So if you harshly criticize the way someone dealt with a problem, you may make them feel bad.
And for what purpose? To prove your superiority or knowledge?
Instead, you have to consider whether they need to hear your criticism at all.
Sure, sometimes we have to deal out some truths to those we care about. But this should be the last resort.
If they are well aware that they should have acted differently, it does no good to turn the screw and make them suffer more.
A more compassionate approach would be better suited to such a situation.
So take a moment before you say or do something that may upset someone else.
In fact, take a few moments. Really consider what the best approach is before you say or do something you’ll come to regret.
13. Learn the importance of learning.
This article has so far discussed twelve important lessons on how to grow up.
The final lesson is one of learning.
Growing up doesn’t stop. It continues as a process of personal development for your entire life.
And learning is the key to it.
This doesn’t necessarily mean learning how to do something or memorizing information.
As we have seen, it often means learning how to change your behavior or way of thinking so as to live a more peaceful and happy life.
It means reflecting on your actions and relationships with the aim of making them healthier.
Make learning a lifelong commitment and maturity will follow.
Control is key.
One of the core themes of this article is not spelled out: control.
Most of these lessons illustrate the fact that as a grown up, you have a degree of control over your life.
You have some control over how you act and how you react to given situations.
And perhaps this is what being an adult is: realizing when and where you have control and then exerting that control in the most appropriate manner.
As a child, you do not have so much control over your life. With each year that passes, your autonomy and ability grow, and with it grows your control.
But it’s only when you understand this and act accordingly that you can claim to have matured as an individual.