How to Take Control of Your Adult Life (A Beginner’s Guide)

So you’re in your twenties or early thirties and the adulting rules are changing, your priorities are evolving, and your tolerance for trivialities is lessening. As you try to hold on to your childhood’s simpler ways, you realize it’s just not going to cut it. You’re going to have to be more proactive and learn how to be an adult properly before it’s too late. Below are some beginning steps you can take in both your professional and personal life.

adulting and quarter life crisis

Plan your Time

After I left the 9-5 world and started working as a freelancer, I found out just how fleeting time was. When you’re holed up in a job you’re not particularly passionate about, 8 hours can seem like an eternity. In contrast, when you’re doing something you love or embarking on a creative project, time is very fleeting. I had to consciously make time out to sleep, exercise, and go grocery shopping so I could make healthy-ish meals. I use this anecdote to point out that having proper time management is not just so you can be more productive in your job but also in your personal life. Your self-care is just as important and as you get older, you realize this even more.

Managing your time properly and doing away with procrastination are two related and equally important habits. Between mobile devices, Netflix and hilarious memes, it can be easy to get carried away and forget the task at hand. The day goes by so fast and before you know it the week is gone, months have passed, it’s your birthday again, and another procrastination filled year has gone by.

There are many apps and websites that can help track productivity. If you’re finding it hard to manage your time properly or finish big projects, I suggest you try out one of these apps and start literally tracking your time and productivity.

Set Short-Term Goals

One of the most wholesome dinners I’ve ever had in my adult life was a dinner party with a group of friends where we all had to set and write down short-term (6 months) goals we wanted to achieve. We wrote down our goals, went around the table discussing them and all promised to hold each other accountable. Besides going on to achieve some of the goals on my list, this experience taught me the importance of having short-term realistic goals. We all have our long-term ambitions and “shoot-for-the-stars” goals.  Buy a beach house, write a book, marry Prince Harry etc. But the short-term goals are how you get to your bigger goals. Set realistic milestones that you can track. The fulfillment of these smaller goals will train you to be more accountable and will inspire you to continue setting both smaller and bigger goals. Crawl-walk-fly/teleport.

how to be an adult

Start Budgeting

I think for many young people, the idea of budgeting is quickly brushed off because It’s considered something for older people, people with kids, or people with mortgage payments. As a financially independent individual (even if you occasionally still get money from your parents) budgeting should be a priority for you. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we just continue to swipe our cards without checking our account balance because who needs that kind of stress. Sooner or later you’re going to have to be more responsible financially, why not now that you’re young, healthy and less likely to have a financially induced heart attack? Start with budgeting apps or a simple spreadsheet and track your monthly or weekly expenses. It’ll make you more confident and in control and even if you can’t afford to save now (Read more about savings here), in time, you’ll be able to.

Run Your Race

One of my favorite bible verses goes like this:

“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all” Ecclesiastes 9:11

What this reiterates and how it blends into my point is – stop competing with, and comparing yourself to others. In the age of oversharing, it can be easy to feel unaccomplished because other people seem to be accomplishing so much. Your only competition should be yourself as you should strive to be a better version of yourself. Everyone faces challenges, but we all choose to share the best parts of ourselves on social media, at dinner parties etc. So stop thinking everyone else has got it figured out except you. Stop feeling downtrodden because some friends have their dream job, are married or are traveling the world. Be challenged, be inspired and be motivated but do not be envious of others or worse still, unappreciative of how far you’ve come. Also, stop stalking your ex.

Don’t be so hard on yourself

how to be an adult

I read an article that talked about how, a lot of times, we are our own worst enemy and they couldn’t have said it any better. In an attempt to be our best selves and always grow, we can end up being too hard on ourselves. This is one of my biggest weaknesses and I feel a little hypocritical writing about it but after all, we are all in this quarter-life crisis together! It’s important to always push yourself to be better, work harder, eat healthier, exercise more etc. However, every now and then you might falter or you might err. Forgive yourself and don’t let it hold you back. It’s ok to learn from mistakes but it’s not ok to obsess over them. So you ate the whole cake instead of just one slice (true story :)) forgive yourself and move on. So you forgot to exercise or you said something weird at drinks with friends. Don’t spend the rest of your week thinking about it and cringing, dust it off and move on. Life is too short.

Do you have any other tips or experiences you’ll like to share? Comment below.

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Jiji Ugboma

Editor in Chief

Jiji is a writer, entrepreneur, and digital marketing specialist based in New York. She writes about personal development, self-actualization, mental health, and creativity as they relate to the quarter-life crisis experiences of millennials and gen-z. She has a deep love for quirky podcasts, coffee, and chocolate desserts.

  1. And the toughest of it all is to actually, consciously RUN YOUR RACE!
    Sometimes, the more difficult thing is not really to run your race but, to figure out which race is actually yours, especially here in Nigeria, where our communal life is so intensely mangled that “my wife” easily becomes “our wife”

  2. The budgeting tip is so key! I started just two months ago and now I am conscious of where every euro is going to. It’s actually fun tracking where my priorities go. Good writing!

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