24 Essential Adulting Skills We Need to Learn

24 adulting skills

Last Updated on April 11, 2023

Upon graduating from college, many young people will start living independently, move away from their parents, and start their adulting journey.

However, this new sense of independence suddenly makes them clueless about many things in the real world since many things need to be taught in school.

Many of us thought we would have everything figured out by our 20s, which leaves us feeling lost on what to do next.

“Welcome to the Real World.” This phrase is commonly heard after graduation as if the world we live in before taking our diplomas is not “real.”

Either way, we blindly jump into the new workplace arena to crawl into the dark and figure things out.

Here are 24 skills I believe every “new” adult and older adult should learn:

1. Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the essential adulting skills we need to learn. Many of us grew up in families where topics about money are avoided and are left to be handled by “adults.” 

However, when we reach adulthood, we finally realize they also don’t know how to handle money properly.

That is why we need to unlearn things and learn more about the subject by going through various materials, from books to articles, blogs, and vlogs, and talking to people who know how to budget.

2. Doing Your Own Grocery.

One important adulting skill is doing our grocery shopping. This is the next step to establish once we have finalized your monthly budget.

By doing our grocery, we become more conscious of what we’re buying and what we’ll be eating, especially if we know how to cook. 

Grocery shopping also allows us to be more mindful of how to save money, especially when inflation is high.

We also realize that being an adult is hard, so we’ll learn to appreciate how our parents provided when we were younger.

An important tip when grocery shopping is to stick to our list (make one if you don’t have one yet) and eat before going to the grocery store to avoid unplanned and added expenses.

Buying non-perishable items in bulk can also be helpful to save some cash.

3. Cooking

Like budgeting, cooking is one skill every adult should learn — primarily if you did not know how to cook growing up.

Aside from frying, I only started cooking at 25 by following recipes on Youtube. And through practice, I have improved a lot since then.

Another thing about cooking is that it saves us cash compared to dining out or buying cooked food.

When I cook, I sometimes compute the total expense for the dish and how long it takes to complete. I found out that it can be as high as 50% savings.

Plus, it’s fun to cook, especially if you’re cooking for someone you love.

With so many preservatives and unhealthy food sold in the market, cooking your food assures you of its nutritional value.

4. Exercising

When I was still studying, I was underweight. I can’t gain weight even if I try. I always thought it would always be that way. 

Unfortunately, my metabolism slowed down in my 20s. By the time I took the board exam in 2014, I was several kilograms overweight.

That is also one of the reasons why I started exercising. I initially chose running because I thought it was the cheapest sport — now I know I was wrong.

As we started working, we realized we didn’t have much free time, making exercising more critical. Re-allocating 10 to 15mins of your social media time to exercise will help you in the long run.

5. Making Your Doctor’s Appointments.

Making your doctor’s appointment can be intimidating but it is a crucial adulting skill.

Growing up, most of us always had our parents make doctor’s appointments whenever we felt sick, so we never bothered to learn how to do it ourselves.

Suddenly, we became adults and needed to take care of ourselves, make doctor’s appointments, and even confine ourselves to a hospital without relying on our parents.

It’s a good thing many private companies provide HMO cards, which is extremely helpful to the employees.

In my previous company, their card gives health insurance of as much as P200,000 per sickness per year.

That’s why many of my colleagues learned how to make a doctor’s appointment, particularly since we have an annual physical exam.

During my stay in Metro Manila, I was often sick and had to make many doctor’s appointments. Fortunately, my health card covered all of the costs.

Unfortunately, people not provided with an HMO card seldom make doctor’s appointments or even have regular check-ups because of the fear of discovering an underlying illness.

6. Applying For A Government ID.

Obtaining a government ID is a crucial adulting skill.

After graduating from college, you’ll most likely need government IDs. Fortunately, the PRC license is a valid ID for courses with board exams.

However, if you don’t have a PRC ID, you can still apply for a postal or national ID, which is the easiest to get. Driver’s license and passport are also necessary IDs to consider.

Your birth certificate is also a commonly needed document when applying for some IDs, so it is crucial to have multiple copies of them.

7. Opening Your Bank Account.

Adulting will require you to pay for your expenses and start living more independently, and a crucial part of this is for you to have a bank account.

But many traditional banks will require at least two IDs before you can open a savings account. So, it is essential to secure them first.

Depending on which bank you are opening, an account will determine how much you’ll have to deposit as an initial.

Recently, there has also been a rise in the number of digital banks (no physical location), such as CIMB, Tonik, and Maya, which are as safe and insured as traditional banks. These banks usually pay a higher interest rate compared to conventional banks.

I have accounts on four bank accounts (two traditional and two digital). Doing this gives other options if ever one of the banks goes offline.

Of the two traditional banks, one is my payroll account, and another is BPI, which I use to transfer funds to my digital bank account.

8. Avoiding FOMO or Fear of Missing Out.

The Internet and social media changed life as we know it. We now have more access to what’s happening at almost every moment.

We have breaking news, Twitter updates, Facebook posts, Instagram feeds, and more. It also notifies us of what is happening in other people’s lives, such as weddings, engagements, and childbirths.

However, these constant updates and notifications often cause the “fear of missing out,” resulting in anxiety.

Many people feel left out by their peers, co-workers, friends, and family members because of the constant “news” of what’s happening in their lives, which are usually only the highlights of their own lives.

It would also be helpful if you unfollow some of your friends and pages so you will not be constantly bombarded by information every moment.  

So it is essential to understand that God’s timing is perfect. We must have faith in His plans that everything will eventually fall into place.

9. Developing a Growth Mindset.

Before we can grow our personality, we must develop a growth mindset, a crucial skill in adulting.

We need to understand that there are so many things outside our control, and by accepting this fact, we can react to the things we can control.

For example, we don’t have control over the financial capability of which family we were born into, but we can adapt and learn to look for opportunities in which we can improve our future. 

Though the pressure is stronger, finding good mentors will greatly help.

We can stop complaining about the things we cannot change and start acting on the things we can.

10. Asking Questions

I am a former teacher, and I realized that most students wouldn’t ask questions even if they wanted to clarify something. So what I did is to force them to ask questions.

During recitation, I call a student randomly, and they have to ask a classmate or me a question. And that question should not be answerable by yes or no but should be situational or divergent questioning.

I want to teach them confidence in questioning people with authority because asking questions is an important skill in everyday life.

From asking a stranger for directions to asking a seller for a refund to asking your manager for a raise or promotion, it is only a matter of confidence.

Not all questions are created equal. Some are thought-provoking, while some are obvious, but it does not matter. 

According to Confucius, “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute. The man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

11. Quick Decision-Making.

How often have you experienced indecision on where to eat when going out with your friends, only to end up in a Jollibee or McDo?

This is a common trait of many slow decision-makers, even when the question requires a quick response.

I once had a teammate whose very indecisive. Before dinner, I asked him if he preferred pizza or burgers. He just said that he’s not picky and will eat, either.

Then to try and make him select one, I asked again. “You have a burger on the one hand and a slice of pizza on the other. Which one would you put in your mouth first?” He paused for a second and told me that he was not picky. So I gave up.

In some situations, we need to give immediate answers and practice thinking on our feet will be crucial in adulting.

12. Calculating Risks vs. Rewards.

As a stock market trader, knowing a particular stock’s potential risks and rewards before buying them is crucial.

As a rule of thumb, at least a 1:3 risk-reward ratio (RRR) is essential to make it worth it.

Applying this principle when making critical life-changing decisions, we can have a clearer picture of what we want to achieve.

When I left the corporate world to shift to the academe, I listed the pros and cons. I identified the pros and cons of going and staying in the rat race. In the end, there are more pros to leaving the company.

However, the risks and rewards are not absolute. Just like what is said in Proverbs:

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

13. Public Speaking

Public speaking does not mean speaking in a large venue with hundreds of listeners waiting for you to talk. It can be as small as within your family or your five-person team.

Whatever the audience is, learning the confidence to talk in front of others is essential.

I am an ambivert, but I lean towards introversion. But because I was president of our school organization in college, I had to speak in front of people. That experience contributed to building my confidence.

Learning to speak in public is never too late — you need practice.

14. Distinguishing Constructive and Destructive Criticism.

We need to learn how to distinguish between constructive and destructive criticism.

Criticism has a negative connotation, so learning to differentiate between positive and negative is essential.

That is why developing a growth mindset is crucial in our adult life. We need to “see” if a person giving criticism has your best interest in mind or is criticizing us out of spite or insecurity.

15. Writing With Clarity

We are now living in a world where writing is essential. We write more than we think — through social media, emails, blogs, and other platforms.

But many people seem to forget how to write what they mean, which leads to misunderstandings and disputes.

Communication is a two-way street — whichever medium it may be. The tricky part about writing is that it does not readily show the writer’s emotions or translate what’s in his head to what’s written on the paper.

So, if you want people to understand what you mean, you must practice writing clearly and re-learn its basics.

16. Reading with Comprehension

In 2019, the country’s education sector was mocked when the news announced that the Philippines ranked lowest among 79 countries regarding reading comprehension

I don’t know if you noticed, but based on my experience as an educator, this is true.

Our schools and teachers can only do so much to remind students to read. 

However, students seem to no longer care about reading — which is essential in the future. Reading with comprehension is not only applicable to English but also to Filipino.

People — young and old — need to re-learn how to read, not just for the sake of reading but especially for understanding. Read the line, within the line, and finally, beyond the line.

17. Confrontation

Confrontation has a negative connotation, but hear me out. You can speak about your issue/s with another person in a loving, respectful, and friendly way.

Confrontation does not mean fighting or arguing. But it can be a way to settle misunderstandings and clear issues before they go out of hand.

I noticed from older people who never learned the skill of confrontation that they ignore the person they have a problem with or deal with them in a passive-aggressive way.

I know this is difficult, especially if you’re an introvert, making it more critical. To preserve relationships, you need to collect your confidence and talk things out.

Because if you avoid the person you need to confront long enough, the time will come when all the emotions locked up inside you will burst. Your relationship may not be repaired ever again after that.

18. Active Listening

Often, we listen so we can reply, not to understand. That is one of the biggest problems of our generation.

We need to be more present when having a conversation. It is an essential skill that can do wonders.

Just like what Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

19. Empathy

Empathy is more than just feeling pity toward others. It is putting ourselves in other people’s situations.

As Atticus Finch said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

To learn empathy, we need to re-evaluate our values first. We must throw away our selfish desires and seek ways to extend help.

We must immerse ourselves in uncomfortable places and situations to understand others more. Volunteering for different causes is a great way to develop empathy.

20. Teaching

We are all teachers. We teach different topics to other people every time. Richard Feynman said that one of the best ways to learn a concept is to teach it to others.

Some may be more adept at teaching than others, so you need to improve this skill.

Whatever we do, the time will come when we need to teach others. It may be our friends, family, teammates, colleagues, or mentees, but whomever that student may be, an opportunity will come when we need to teach.

21. Leading a Group.

As a young professional, there will come a time when you’ll be forced to lead a group or a team. So, when that day comes, you need to be ready.

Unfortunately, many people are not trained to handle a group, especially those not given the opportunity during their school years.

So if you don’t have the experience yet, you may try to join different groups or attend leadership training commonly hosted by most companies and schools.

Though only some are called to lead, leading is still a skill that can be learned.

22. Not Taking Offense Easily

In a time when we become so thin-skinned and oversensitive to everything, learning not to be easily offended is a critical skill to learn as early as possible.

Some Filipinos are easily offended. The cultural term is “tampo.” Many families and friendships were damaged because of this, from as simple as not greeting you on your birthday, forgetting to invite you to a party, or passing to buy your merchandise.

I think being “matampuhin” is a sign of pride and selfishness because we don’t consider the other person’s reason why these things happen. We should always practice giving the benefit of the doubt.

So, if we learn how to avoid being easily offended, our lives will be easier. Not everything is worth our energy. We need to choose our battles carefully.

23. Patience.

There are moments when our patience will be tested. There are also people, events, or ideas that can trigger us more than others. However, these tests are an excellent opportunity to improve our patience.

Without these particular triggers, we won’t have the chance to build up our tolerance toward stressors.

By assessing if the cause of stress is within our control, we can contain our impatience. 

If not, try to let it go and let God do the work. Though I still lose my cool, I always try to regain my composure by taking a deep breath immediately.

“Patience is a virtue” became a cliche because it is true. Also, patience is one of the characteristics often mentioned in the Bible that we hope to attain.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

24. Letting go.

People are so afraid to let go. We want to hold on to the things we put effort, money, and time into – or the sunk cost fallacy.

Unfortunately, we sometimes need to let go of the things hindering our growth.

Let go and let God do the work.

Final Thought:

Adulting is hard. It is much more complicated if we don’t learn some of these skills. We must prepare ourselves to be in uncomfortable situations to learn and grow.

There is always room for improvement. Never settle for “ganito na talaga ako e.” 

Listen to close friends and family’s advice and filter through them to determine what is applicable.

We need to develop a growth mindset.

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox

Leave a Reply