How to Start Adulting: 10 Critical Habits to Master

Learning to adult is like learning to juggle. You master the art of adulting by keeping all your responsibilities done and commitments met. But when do you launch your items to juggle into the air? Once you know how to start adulting and have a plan to keep it going.

The foundation you lay as you start adulting will serve you well over the rest of your life. At the same time, it’s never too late to revisit the basics, start over, or change what’s in the air. So, wherever you are in your adulting journey, here are 10 critical habits for how to be an adult today.

a young woman handling her finances at a desk and learning how to be an adult

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How to Start Adulting

What is considered adulting?

A proper adulting definition comes down to three things. Adulting is characterized by what you do with your time, how you spend your money, and your level of independence.

  • What you do with your time: Whether that’s working, studying for an advanced education degree, or running a household, these things could qualify you for adulting. Adults have responsibilities and bills, and they have to manage those demands and pay for their spending habits. This brings us to point 2.
  • How you spend your money: Unfortunately, adults don’t always get to spend money on the things they want, but the things they have to, like utility bills! So, if you’re wondering how to start adulting, you can bet that building a budget and smart money habits is an important part of that.
  • Level of independence: Once you fly the coop, start making your own decisions, and pay your own bills without having to justify your decisions to others, you’re well into the realm of “adulting.”

With this adulting definition in mind, let’s turn to how to start adulting. Here are 10 critical steps or habits you can master to prepare yourself for adulthood and start acting independently.

  1. Build a Support Team
  2. Take on More Responsibilities
  3. Save Money & Save More
  4. Find a Job (and Keep It)
  5. Find a Place to Live
  6. Steward Your Time Well
  7. Learn from Your Mistakes
  8. Celebrate Your Successes
  9. Say No to Yourself
  10. Be Gracious to Yourself

1.Build a Support Team

There’s a misconception that adults don’t ask for help. In fact, sometimes it seems like asking for help disqualifies us from adulthood. But that’s not true.

Maturity comes from knowing when to ask for help.

Adulting may mean that your name is the only one on the lease or the only one on your healthcare plan. But that doesn’t mean that you have to go at it alone. Find people to support you along your journey.

Some people who can help you in learning how to be an adult are:

  • Your parents
  • An older sibling
  • An older college or work mentor
  • Your extended family
  • A spiritual mentor or small group leader
  • A work colleague

There is a lot of stress in early adulthood. So don’t carry it all on your shoulders.

2. Take on More Responsibilities

If you’re in college or getting further education, you may be wondering how to start adulting without your degree. Good news is that there are still responsibilities you can assume from your parents or guardians while waiting to move out of your parent’s house or graduate from college.

In fact, you should gradually take on more responsibilities to learn how to be an adult early. Every year, try to think of more things that you can take off your parent’s plate and put on your own.

For example, my freshman year, I went grocery shopping, had a credit card, and managed a budget to pay for books. Then my junior year, I rented an apartment off campus and had the additional responsibilities of paying my rent and doing meal planning.

Little by little, you will learn how to be an adult without even realizing it.

3. Save Money & Save More

Once you land your first job, internship, fellowship, (or whatever you’re doing next), you’ll likely have to spend some money getting set up. Whether it’s moving costs, apartment deposits, traveling for interviews, or buying a new wardrobe to work on Wall Street, you will need to have some cash on hand.

A general rule of thumb is to save at least 20% of your income and then live off of the rest. Having at least a $1,000 emergency fund is key for surprise expenses, too.

Managing your finances may seem daunting. To get started, check out these adulting tips and finance resources for young professionals.

4. Find a Job (and Keep It)

The prime step in how to start adulting is having a job. If you’re in grad school and can’t work, then you’ll need to find another way to support yourself, for example through fellowships and scholarships.

Adults need money to pay for their spending habits, bills, and necessities. Nonetheless, it feels good to work hard and earn that dollar (or whatever currency you are paid in).

If you’re looking for a job, here are some helpful resources:

Remember that just because you start your professional career in one job doesn’t mean you can’t change industries later. Jobs can be stepping stones.

Each new position can teach you about teamwork, discipline, time management, and other skills even though it’s not related to your current interests.

5. Find a Place to Live

After securing a job, the next step in how to start adulting is finding a place to live. Whether you’re working or studying or doing a combination (like me), you’ve got to have somewhere to lay your head at the end of the night.

Depending on where you are in your adulting journey, your home situation might look different from others. In my adult life, I have lived at home with parents, bunked with a roommate, and been out on my own.

What your home should be, above all, is a place you can rest.

Finding an apartment or buying a home can be a lengthy process, so here are a few tips to make it run more smoothly.

  • Start early – apartment shopping with a tight deadline adds unnecessary stress
  • Be patient – make sure to do your homework and research before signing any dotted lines
  • Get a second opinion – as an adult, you make the final decision. However, it’s helpful to have someone else along for the ride who can see things you might miss .
  • Make a list of must-haves, preferences, and nice-to-haves – and stick to them. You’ll avoid wasting time on properties you’re not interested in.
  • Use our Ultimate Apartment Hunting Checklistcomplete with a list of questions to ask during apartment tours.
  • Have a Moving Plan – put together a plan once you’ve got a move in/move out date
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6. Steward Your Time Well

When it comes to how to be an adult, the hardest part of adulting is figuring out how to handle the different parts of adulthood all at once. After all, not everyone has a degree in project management.

As I mentioned before, adulting often feels like a juggling act when all the different parts of adulthood hit at once — paying bills, researching investments, managing projects at work, finding work-life balance, meal-prepping, cooking, doing home improvements, and more.

For those times, knowing how to steward your time is key to how to handle adulthood. Stewardship is like management, but with a more active and attentive focus on making the best investment of whatever you’re stewarding.

How to be an adult comes with knowing when to say no, what to prioritize, and how to plan around life’s busyness and the unexpected.

7.  Learn from Your Mistakes

As your independence grows and you start making your own decisions, it’s natural that you will make mistakes along the way. But don’t let that discourage you.

The adulting thing to do is to own up to your mistakes and learn from them.

I’m guilty of letting past mistakes define my future instead of letting them go. As it says in Matthew 6:34, each day has enough worry of its own. So, learn from your mistakes and then let them go.

8. Celebrate Your Successes

In the adulting world, very small things suddenly seem to be a huge deal. Like if you find a coupon online for your favorite shampoo, get a parking spot right in front of your apartment building, or nail a 15-minute presentation at work.

Take some time to enjoy the good things before you barrel down to the next thing. Too often we are so focused on planning or achieving another milestone that we miss what’s right in front of us.

There will be days when everything seems to be going wrong. So celebrate the days when even a little is going right. Thank the Lord for them.

9. Say No to Yourself

Another key part of how to start adulting is being able to say no to yourself. Sometimes finances are tight, and you can’t go out every Friday this month. Maybe you’ll have to skip the movie night so you can be well rested for your big presentation the next day.

Adults must make tough decisions, and sometimes that means saying no to yourself.

Knowing your priorities, what stresses you, and what brings you joy can help you make smart decisions about how to spend your time. Additionally, knowing these things about yourself will help you asses a situation and know when to say no.

10. Be Gracious to Yourself

The best advice I can give for how to be an adult is to be gracious to yourself. Don’t expect perfection or put extra pressure on yourself to have all the answers. You won’t!

The most critical key for me in how to start adulting is to do it with flair and faith. I do it with flair because what works for me in my adult life won’t work for everyone. Instead of comparing myself to others, I need to focus on what propels me forward where I am now.

My faith comes into play as I not only make mistakes but also face tough circumstances. Even in those times, God is the one who determines my steps and blesses my journey (Proverbs 16:3, 9).

All our adulting journeys will be different, but they will all be in God’s hands. You can trust that He has the best for you (Jeremiah 29:11).

So, give grace to yourself and put the stress of figuring out how to start adulting into God’s hands. He will surely guide you if you seek Him.

How to Be an Adult

How can I be good at adulting?

How to be an adult starts with having a good attitude, asking a lot of questions, and knowing when to ask for help. The best way to learn how to handle adulting is through experience and being open to learning along the way.

Begin these 10 habits and steps for how to start adulting and enjoy this time of life. It’s not all pancakes and rainbows. But at the end of the day, being an adult is pretty good if you add your own flair and rely on solid faith.

What are your best Adulting 101 tips?

Leave me a comment below!

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