Advanced Adulting

How do I make myself do things I don’t want to do? As the song says, “I get by with a little help from friends.” But if you want to do more than just get by, you’ll get on those things that fall into the category of advanced adulting.

That’s right, adulting is now a verb that means (at least to some) doing anything hard or uninteresting. Getting organized has way more to do with adulting than buying more plastic bins does.

Advanced Adulting


What is Advanced Adulting?

If you are already doing adulting 101, then you are off to a good start. Basic adulting includes showing up at work on time, paying your bills, taking care of your own body and yes, figuring out something healthy to eat every day, several times a day, as boring as that can be. When you’ve got the basics worked into your routine, then you’ll have time and energy for the fun stuff.

Many of my clients are crushing these advanced adulting skills right now. These include:

  • Writing a will
  • Keeping a refrigerator stocked and organized
  • Making a phone call when you’d rather ghost someone instead (yep, ghosting is a verb now, too)
  • Writing down your passwords
  • Setting up or revising financial plans and investments
  • Scheduling home maintenance, like getting the carpet cleaned or the pipes fixed
  • Starting and funding 401K retirement and 529 college savings accounts
  • Opening all email
  • Learning how to use more of your computer or phone
  • Taking another class (even though you’ve been out of school for years)

On average, my virtual organizing clients have at least four appointments with me before they clear enough of the clutter off their desk to get to these advanced adulting tasks. But when they do, they tell me that getting to those important adult tasks is life-changing. I love to hear it, every time!


Are there Shortcuts to Advanced Adulting?

Although I’m always looking for shortcuts, sometimes you just have to do the hard thing that you don’t want to do. If you spend your life watching three-minute videos all the time, guess what, you’re training yourself to live in three-minute segments, and training yourself to always look for something to distract yourself in three minutes. If this describes you, there’s nothing wrong with you. Your brain is working perfectly! This is brain science, and it’s pretty cool, actually. But if you aren’t adulting like you want to, there’s good news.

You don’t just HAVE a brain…you are teaching it things ALL THE TIME. People who tell me they aren’t techie are some of the same people who have taught themselves how to text. Texting wasn’t a thing just a few years ago. You had to teach yourself that over the last decade.

My 12 year old and I had this talk recently. She’s upset that she gets distracted in class all the time. Guess what? We ALL get distracted. It’s what you do next that matters. You can have ADHD and still get distracted and still learn to be successful. On the other hand, non-ADHD people also get distracted all the time, and sometimes are not be successful at getting things done. (I may or may not be procrastinating on three separate slide decks as I’m writing this article.)

How do I make myself do things I don’t want to do?

One way to practice advanced adulting is to read printed books for long stretches of time, starting with just fifteen minutes. Any book. With print pages. Not on an electronic device. There’s no right or wrong topic. There’s no score, no finish line. It’s just training your brain to do something kinda boring, which strengthens your brain’s ability to do something you don’t like as much later. If you can build enough discipline to read an entire book, you can do pretty much anything.

I had a high school math teacher/baseball coach who told his students that we all can’t be great ball players, but we can all play baseball. Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, find a way to compensate. We can’t all be great hitters, but there is something else in the game, or maybe in the stadium, that we can learn to do. (I literally played left field. LOL)

Sometimes you’ve got to hire a “friend” to make you do the hard stuff. Homework stinks, but it’s a part of a French class I take. I dread having homework, but I love being able to feel at home in France. I honestly don’t want to take the class, as lovely as my classmates and teacher are, but I do the hard thing every week because the instructor expects it. She’s made me accountable. And I love her for it when I’m traveling. I hired a teacher. My clients hire a pro organizer.

Do I Get a Prize for Advanced Adulting?

Yes. Yes you do. Your brain likes to be rewarded. So when you do something hard, give yourself a reward. I built the SORT and Succeed system so you do a little of something you don’t think is fun or interesting, or maybe you think is hard, and then you get a reward. What reward? That’s for you to decide. How much work before you get a reward? As little as 15 minutes of progress. Remember, progress…not perfection.

Me? I like a little hedgehog reward, for instance. I booked a hedgehog experience at Elmwood Park Zoo weeks ago for getting through the holidays. I work hard, so being able to splurge on a little hedgehog love is a reward that works for me. You had no idea this whole adulting thing was going to end with a hedgehog named L’il Bill, did you???

Advanced Adulting


You don’t get the advanced adulting things done by stressing about how hard they seem and hiding like a hedgehog. You get them done by doing just the next thing, one step at a time. And maybe with a little help from your friends, no matter how prickly they are.