Embracing #Adulting

#Adulting, the term coined by social media and amidst the chatter of young adults that depicts the apparent horrors of “growing up,” or that thing that happens when you transition to a certain age, and suddenly your life is consumed by responsibilities, little sleep, bills, and deadlines. This is also a land where play, fun, vitality, hope, and socializing are somehow non-existent and in direct conflict with the adult reality. As the term catches on, its meaning and worth gets amplified, so much so that young people and middle-age career persons alike dread facing this seemingly impossible task – living and working as an adult person in the “real world.” For many, this way of existing (work longer, harder) is the real world for them, and they are left with immeasurable consequences, including feeling defeated, exhausted and drained, a sense of purposelessness, and for others, disconnection from friends, family, and other important relationships and activities they truly value. If this is what #adulting really looks like, then fears surrounding it make a lot of sense! But does it have to be that way? Do we have to buy in to the message that growing up is always hard, and you lose yourself and what you care about in the process? Is there another, healthier, more accurate message about the challenges and joys of #adulting that we can pitch to each other? I believe so!

5 Steps Toward a Balanced, Confident, Engaged Adult Life:

1. Acknowledge and write down your specific fears associated with #adulting. Rate your anxiety about adulting on a scale of 1-10, 10 representing debilitating anxiety. Allow these thoughts to be present in your mind, and observe them like a scientist who is collecting data for a research study (stay curious, without judgment).  An example might be, “I’m aware of the thought that I’m terrible at managing my money and bank account…. how interesting I’m having that thought.” Once you develop a greater awareness of these thoughts, you can decide what you want to do with them. Is the thought helpful, and you feel like you can do something good with it? Or does it seem unhelpful, and leaves you feeling fearful and stuck? If so, throw it out and re-center your focus on a more helpful, action-oriented thought.

2. Take inventory. Using broad domains, like leisure/play, health/fitness, education/work, and relationships, reflect on your values in each of these domains, and how close or far you might be from living in line with them. For example, under work, a value might be work-life balance, and a specific behavior would be to leave the office every day at 5 PM. Use this link for a helpful worksheet that can guide you in this process. After you have defined your values and how much or little you are acting in line with your values, choose 1 value where you would like to make a change. Make sure it is specific, achievable and relevant to the data you collected in step 1.

3. Embrace the fear and Commit to a desired action. Now it’s time to take action! Commit to a specific, measurable goal that feels important and meaningful. If you are working towards your value of relationships, maybe send a text, email, or call a friend, colleague, or family member from whom you have grown distant, admitting it’s been a while and checking-in on how they are doing. Next week, invite one of these folks to a “play date,” an activity that might combine your value of relating and play. Ideas could include playing tennis, going for a walk/hike, or a game night.

4. Reward yourself. After you accomplish a goal that moves you closer towards one of your important values, make sure you pause and encourage yourself for this achievement. This step is absolutely vital, helping you to build your self-confidence and efficacy, which motivates you to make more desired changes in the future.

5. Self-check. Check back in with your anxiety rating around adulting; most likely, making a needed change has helped to decrease your anxiety level. If you are still off-track, and adulting feels overwhelming, that’s OK! Look back at step 1, practicing some self-compassion and kindness in the process. It is completely normal to have moments of feeling overwhelmed and stressed by the realities of day-to-day life. Anchoring back in to what fills and drives you can be a great remedy!


*If you are interested in learning more about how you can re-energize, re-connect to your values, and optimize your work-life balance, please feel free to call me at 813-658-8754, or visit my website at drczimmertherapy.com to schedule a free phone consultation. I am a licensed clinical psychologist serving the South Tampa, FL community, and am accepting new clients today!

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