I’m older now. That means I should be ‘wise,’ right?
I should ‘have my sh*t together.’ I should be capable, competent, and resourceful in my endeavors, right?
Well, that’s easier said than done. New challenges sneak in as we move through life, even through old age. Many of the skills we use to meet those challenges are highly nuanced. Some skills are repetitive yet case-dependent. Some are like muscles that we must exercise consistently to keep in shape.
There are a good number of particular skills that one could put in this ‘Life Competence‘ category.
In a sense, this whole site is about this proficiency at living. It aims to teach the many skills for living a good life that are often missed in school: how to date, how to make and keep friends, how to consider life’s big questions, how to be grateful…
And on and on. (a virtual compendium of subjects)
But this Life Competence category is particular collection: it is about the wisdom and expertise we cultivate in response to some of life’s more tedious challenges. It is about resourcefulness, capability, and experience. It is about leveling up certain aspects of life.
One could call these skills ‘Adulting,’ but the truth is that these skills are not just for coming of age. They are life-long pursuits. And many of the skills in this category have less to do with our own age than the age of our society and its tools.
The 21st century, our brave new information age, has brought with it a host of unprecedented challenges. Many of the obstacles faced by today’s adults are completely new and unique. And baffling.
This page is a launchpad to a handful of uniquely modern challenges of “life competence.”
For each subject, you’ll find a collection of pages filled with content: theory, research, tips, and more. Most sections will have collections of exercises and further resources, too, some of which can be accessed with a subscription.
There will also be a few books, videos, and articles here that cover this category of wisdom generally.
Life Competence Sections
This is the largest section here in Life Competence. It’s an extensive exploration of the modern paradox of time management. You’ll find ample theory, how-to’s, and exercises for overcoming the time crunch of 21st-century life.
Wisdom & Maturity
What is ‘wisdom?’ This topic is as important as it is broad. This section will explore the ins and outs of what makes a person wise and mature, how to tell the difference, and how to practice the skills of wisdom.
Habits, Scheduling, & Kaizen
You probably already know the importance of the first two:
“You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear
Kaizen is a compound of two Japanese words that together translate as “good change” or “improvement.” It is the practice of improving yourself or a process by taking small, incremental, daily actions, which then form habits that stick.
Physical health is massive. And here, you’ll find it simplified into just a few simple virtues: eat, sleep, move, and breathe.
Media & Attention
Who’d have thought that it would be such a constant threat on our lives? Media is now everywhere. We are saturated in voices that are competing for our attention.
So this section is about how to brave the storm: daily, weekly, and as the century progresses.
Self-Efficacy & Autonomy
You can do it! Well, that’s what they say. And, do you really believe it?
Self-Efficacy is one’s confidence in their ability to exert control over their own motivation, behaviour, and environment. And autonomy is one’s actual control over their life.
Let’s explore how to cultivate them.
Integrity means creating and living your life in alignment with your values on an interpersonal AND intrapersonal level. Integrity is the integration of ideals, convictions, standards, beliefs—and behavior.
This page breaks it down from point A to point B.
Below is a small collection of some resources from around the web.
Remember, however, that you’ll find most of the resources within each section.
A few general articles:
- How to Be an Adult – Julie Lythcott-Haims goes on the psychology podcast to talk adulting.
- George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates – A wisened and insightful message to new college graduates.
- What I Wish I Knew at Every Age – Creatives, including Lisa Congdon, Debbie Millman, Tina Roth Eisenberg, and Ken Done, share what they wish they had known during different decades of their careers.
- A Letter I Would Send to My Teenage Self – James Altucher shares a message to his past about wisdom and coming of age.
- Adulting 101: How to prepare for the future – The basics, laid out.
- Growing up vs. adulting – “The journey toward adulthood has changed.”
- Adulthood vs. Modern “Adulting” – A short article that critiques the modern movement and a book on the subject.
- The Age of Adulting is Over – Another short one, with a different angle of critique.
- 34 Mistakes on the Way to 34 Years Old – Each a paragraph, Ryan Holiday shares a constructive lens on his past for his readers’ futures.
- The 30 Things I Learned By The Age Of 30 – A list of lessons on general life wisdom.
- How To Live A Full Life (And Leave Nothing On The Table) By 30 – A poignant list of 40 tips on living life. Highly practical.
- 33 Things I Stole From People Smarter Than Me on the Way to 33 – From Ryan Holiday…some meditations on strategy and life.
- 116 Principles for Business, Life, and Learning – General wisdom from the Junto blog.
- The Days Are Long But the Decades Are Short – Sam Altman offers 36 pieces of insights after turning 30.
- 30 Lessons for Living – Author Karl A. Pillemer shares life lessons from older Americans.
- Adulting, with Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos. A fun and practical podcast from NPR. (Spotify)
- Money Girl – All money, but chill and funny. (Spotify)
- Death, Sex, and Money – And yes, it is actually about those things. (Spotify)
- Savvy Psychologist – A psychology podcast with a theme of meeting life’s challenges. (Spotify)
Your Turn: How to Be an Adult
In the twentieth century, psychologists came up with five markers of adulthood: finish your education, get a job, leave home, marry, and have children. Since then, every generation has been held to those same markers. Yet so much has changed about the world and living in it since that sequence was formulated. All of those markers are choices, and they’re all valid, but any one person’s choices along those lines do not make them more or less an adult.
Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self
Nuggets of wisdom offered by an Academy Award–nominated actor (James Woods), a popular comedian (Aasif Mandvi), and a world-famous novelist (Jodi Picoult) to their sixteen-year-old selves.
Plenty of fluff exists on the subject of ‘adulting.’ There is no shortage of platitudes.
To really practice the wisdom, habits, and patterns of adulting, we recommend reading through sections on this site. And remember it’s a life-long practice!
And, here are a couple of videos that are on the more helpful side of ‘adulting.’ One is shorter, and the other more comprehensive and insightful.
How To Be An Adult with Julie Lythcott-Haims
This over-2-hour interview covers a lot of topics. They helpful start looking at adulting from an angle of parenting and raising resilient, successful adults.