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Adulting 101: Get it together

If you're thinking life is an uphill battle then this series of blogs will be up your alley. Talking about "adulting" is an unusual trend and phrase that exists that in part stems from this concept that schools never prepared us for growing up and well, while our parents tried, there's some lessons that can't be learned by being taught with words. Also most parents, no matter how hard they tried, weren't going to sit down and show us how to do taxes. This idea that adulting is a thing suggests that millennials (some who are into their 40's by some theorists' account) were not equipped with this natural propensity for getting their shit together. The term also implies that there are people who are adults who are doing it mysteriously well and that we're incompetent to that expectation.

This series will discuss some basics about adulting and ways to reframe your approach because when you really look at where we usually set the bar, we're probably setting it too high. Here are some thoughts on getting it all together and preparing yourself for adulthood, even if you're 20 years into it.

Routine versus structure: Most people don't prefer a military style routine. Adulthood wasn't intended to have that kind of routine, despite some misconceptions. Sure, it's true that if you "fail to plan you plan to fail," so we know that we need to have some level of structure. What highly structured, routine oriented people miss out on--if they're rigid about their plans--is the ability to be flexible. In fact, if you approach your adulting skills from this perspective that all you need to do is plug in each task and to do list into a specific, regular block of time that repeats endlessly and without budging, you're either going to become demotivated by the monotony or you're going to do too much too fast and become overwhelmed by the huge life overhaul you just inflicted on yourself. You'll also become discouraged if you come across a situation that requires more flexibility and not planning. In this sense, the better skill is not planning, but learning to think on your feet in the present moment to problem solve those unexpected issues that come up. Rigid, over-emphasis on plans can be a form of self-sabotage.

If you ever get to a point of high structure and routine, and feel good about it, that's awesome. If you weren't born into a family that taught you these skills from the get go then you have to take into perspective that people who were born into that kind of family are going to be further ahead in their ability to autopilot their routine to max efficiency. You might be starting out trying to begin a routine and feel overrun by the obligations you've set yourself up for, and that's entirely understandable. You should cut yourself some slack and probably start smaller. Shoot for structure, not routine. In other words, start small by breaking down blocks of time in your day for a reasonable level of obligations. If you live in complete chaos right now, start by breaking up your day into 2 parts: Day and evening. Each block should at some point incorporate some level of structure that you decide to provide yourself. Maybe you begin making your breakfasts, or going on a walk, or cleaning a part of a room. In any case, don't start over-obligating all of your free time all at once. Start with simple easy tasks and go from there. Take those tasks and make them regular. Start with an arena of life: Personal health, personal growth, career, home, finances, family, hobbies; choose one area and decide something you can start doing to improve that area.

If you've already got some kind of structure, but feel it may not be efficient or you're wondering if there's something more or better you could be doing, let me stop you right there. It's true you could start buying calendars and chore charts to put up all over the house. Before you make any changes, look at what you do well and what's working for you. Then look at your needs. Maybe you're great at meal prepping but you struggle with what to focus on when you come home from work, or maybe you feel too tired to wake up in the morning for exercise like everyone suggests but you're not sure where to fit it in. Make sure whatever changes you make are starting small for where you're at, and not trying to add a whole new lifestyle all at once. One suggestion is to look at that need or needs and find a time once or twice a week to address that need, limited to 15-20 minutes each.

What routine/structure boils down to is not just time management, it's energy management. You can't change how much time you have, but you can change the level of energy you can sustain over time.

So in the spirit of "getting it together," start by looking at the skeleton of your time/energy management. What does it look like now? A bag of bones? Or do you have some structure that's working for you? Can you make it better, more efficient, or less taxing? Check out the forum and see what others do to get their lives together!!

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