Learning life skills as adult? What skills should parents teach child?
July 31, 2016 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I grew up in a relatively dysfunctional living situation, and didn't get a chance to pick up on many life skills growing up that one might expect an adult to know. I'd like to fluff out my "life skills resume" resume so I don't feel like a fraud every time I remember that I'm already supposed to be an adult by now. What should I know by now, as an adult, that my parents probably should have taught me? Please limit suggestions to those that you view as essential for a successful adult life.

I learned very little about money management and the value of hard work growing up. Just to give you an example on where I'm coming from, one of my Dad's financial nuggets of wisdom was literally "you should learn how play the stock market instead of wasting your time on getting a job." He followed his own advice to the letter and is now living in subsidized housing. Assume that I had similar extensive teaching in other aspects of my life and you should get the picture.

What life skills do you think should be taught to a child for a successful and productive adult life? In the case of "adult children," do you have any suggestions for getting started assuming said adult had no proper role model to emulate as a child? Hoping this could help me with my (possible) future children as well. Thanks.
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Education (33 answers total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
The first time I did laundry was when I was 18. I never really learned how to do laundry/fold it well, so even in my late 30s, I have it picked up, wash/folded and delivered.

Also, I learned to cook by trial and error when I was 27. Thankfully, I'm actually a great cook, but I wish I would have been able to do that for myself in my teens and 20s.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2016

How to make a budget and live by it including savings

How to read a recipe and understand it, and be able to use it

How to decide on needs vs wants
posted by Ftsqg at 8:30 AM on July 31, 2016 [4 favorites]

- Cooking simple stuff from scratch (not gormet three course meals, just like "throw these cans of beans together with a couple of veg", or how to make an omelette, or how to cook potatoes).

- Budgeting money and learning to get good value for stuff (like save up your pocket money for a specific toy, and check to see where has the lowest price before buying)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:32 AM on July 31, 2016

Understand the terminology and basics of using health insurance. Deductible, copayment, coinsurance, and in and out of network are terms that you should have a clear understanding of. The process of submitting a claim for reimbursement (what documents need to be included, where should it be sent, how do you follow up if you never hear back, and what does an Explanation of Benefits mean?).

If the above seems unnecessary because you don't use your health insurance, I would rewind and start with establishing a relationship with a primary care physician.

Also, register to vote.
posted by telegraph at 8:32 AM on July 31, 2016 [12 favorites]

Here's a related thread that could be helpful.
posted by brilliantine at 8:33 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

The three big basic human needs are food, shelter, and clothing. So going off those -

* How to cook
* How to do housework and how to do simple home repair
* How to do laundry and how to do simple clothing repair

For 'How to cook' - you can get a copy of either "The Joy of Cooking' or Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything". Those are basic cookbooks that are good for helping get comfortable with simple meals. If you're really inexperienced, maybe a very basic cooking class at a local adult education school would also be a good idea.

So that's cooking sorted.

* Housework: there are a ton of "how to do housekeeping' books out there, all of them doing deep dives into some of the basic "how to clean things" work. Lots of them also come with charts and calendars and schedules for "when/how often you clean blah". Some of these also have tips on basic repair - and I do mean basic, like "how to change a fuse in the fuse box" or 'how to change a light bulb" or "how to hang a picture" or "how to fix a clogged toilet". You don't need to learn how to rewire all the circuitry in your house or anything, but if a fuse blows that is actually an easy enough fix.

* How to do laundry: this may even be a section in the housework books. But taking care of your clothes will keep them in good condition longer, and you will as a result hang on to them longer. "Simple repair" in this case would be things like darning socks, sewing buttons back on, things like that.

Incidentally, there are many, many full-grown and functional adults who have gaps in this kind of knowledge. I am admittedly lax in my house keeping (it's not a sty, but Martha Stewart would be disappointed), and I had a roommate once who was by all measures a "funcitonal adult" (Ph.D. candidate and was able to support himself with several singing gigs and freelance vocal coaching gigs, so he was good with money), but he could not sew buttons back on his shirts despite trying to learn for years, and he would actually pay me to do it for him. So please do not let the feeling that "other adults know all this stuff already" stop you, because a lot of them - if not most of them - don't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 AM on July 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

Really getting on an emotional level that saying "no" to yourself when you need to is taking care of yourself, not punishing yourself. That actually it's a positive. Not: NO, don't eat more of that chocolate cake you pig!" but "I'm going to make sure I feel good later, I'll put that cake away now."
And for raising kids: saying "no" to their dangerous, unhealthy or unrealistic wants in the same way -- even when they throw a fit and keep demanding it -- so it's not a constant internal war of deprivation and self control.

Less philosophically: cleaning up as you go about your mess-making... I'm still practicing that into middle age.
posted by flourpot at 8:42 AM on July 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

I was raised by people whose base message ended up being that you can't trust anyone and that all our problems were super special. This impeded me for years and years because I assumed that there were no answers Out There for me. I would say one of the most adult skills is seeking expert advice -- not just trusting blindly, but also not feeling everything has to be bootstrapped personally. It's ok to consult.

Wear sunscreen
Take care of your health, including oral/dental
Doing things frequently in small batches beats waiting until there is a big mess
posted by warriorqueen at 9:02 AM on July 31, 2016 [11 favorites]

You should know how to read a contract (and actually read most of them, except for software licenses), calculate interest, and keep a budget.

Know how to do at least some basic repair and maintenance. You should have some tools and know how to use them to tighten loose things, loosen tight things, unclog a toilet or stop it from running, oil squeaky things, and do other simple things like that. Even if you rent. But also know your limits, and don't go messing around with dangerous or irreplaceable things unless you know what you're doing.

Almost exactly the same thing, except for clothes. Be able to sew on a button, repair a hem, remove stains, iron, etc.

Have a simple home first aid kit, with bandages, painkillers, some kind of tummyache medicine, a thermometer, etc.

If you drive, you should know how to check and top up your fluids and the air in your tires, and change a tire at minimum.

You should be able to make a couple simple pantry based meals without having to go shopping (and you should keep enough shelf stable ingredients around to do it).

There's a book called Home Comforts that, as I recall, is a pretty overview of things like this.

A whole lot of being a grownup is just being prepared for emergencies. Expect failures, illnesses, injuries, and other complications, and have some idea what to do when they happen.

Also, look up everything you can on the internet. You don't have to memorize how to get every type of stain out of every type of surface or anything like that. You just have to know how to search the internet for it. Memorize the real emergency stuff.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:11 AM on July 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

The couple items below came to mind because I know a few adults who have not yet learned these lessons, and their lives are frustrating and chaotic as a result.

How to conduct yourself at a job

As my FIL used to say: figure out what is important to your boss and then DO THAT.

Besides getting the actual work of the job done, it is also important to your boss that you make life easy on them and not difficult. If you call off sick that makes their life harder because they have to find someone to replace you, or work short-handed. If you break rules or disrespect them that makes their life harder because they have to discipline you. If you can't get along with your coworkers that makes their life difficult because they have to play referee. Etc.

When you don't conduct yourself well on the job, their comes a point where you are more of a pain in the ass to your boss than you are worth, and that is the point where they may make the decision to let you go.

How to economize

Read "Your Money or Your Life" to learn how to think about money. You trade your life energy and hours of your life for the money you earn. When you go to make a purchase learn to ask yourself "is it worth X hours of my time to own this?" "Would I accept this item in lieu of X hours of pay if my boss offered it?"

Try to think about the cost of paying top dollar for something in terms of proportion as opposed to actual dollars. Spending $4 on deodorant at the grocery store vs getting it for $1 at the dollar store is "only three dollars" difference which doesn't seem like THAT big of a deal. But if you think about the fact that you are paying FOUR TIMES as much for the grocery store deodorant, and then think about all the other stuff you buy at the grocery that you could get cheaply at the dollar store, you start to see where significant amounts of money are slipping away from you two or three or five dollars at a time.

When you are considering eating out, estimate how much you will spend on the meal. Then think about how many groceries you could buy for the same money. You won't always choose the groceries but it is a good way to convince yourself to eat at home a lot more often.

Ditto for buying coffee out. If you buy a fancy coffee every day on the way to work, it could cost as much as a utility payment over a month's time. Whereas you can buy all the fixings for a month's worth of drip coffee, cream, sugar, etc. for like $15 bucks and bring it into work in a travel mug.

Make it a game and a challenge to figure out how to economize. Be proud of your ability to live well on the cheap. Read "The Tightwad Gazette" for tips on living cheaply and the philosophy of WHY it's a good idea to do so.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:22 AM on July 31, 2016 [12 favorites]

I find growing up in a dysfunctional environment really messes with how people view authority figures. Not surprising because the people in your life who are supposed to know better are thoroughly inept. This poses all sorts of trouble. Things like developing a strong service ethic, a trusting and respectful demeanor, a judicious amount of conformity and learning how to manage up would be important to address this tendency.
posted by alusru at 10:17 AM on July 31, 2016 [7 favorites]

I'm always glad to hear from other adults like this. Makes me feel less alone. Some things I had to learn the hard way:

-the IRS, student loan providers, and credit card issuers will always find you. It's better to deal directly with them before they send you to collections.

-you don't have to go out with someone just because they want to go out with you.

-have another job lined up before you quit one you hate.

-put some money away no matter what. A job with a retirement savings plan is better than one that pays a little better.

-you can automate payment of most bills. You can make a simple google sheet to track your bills. You can set reminders for everything you have to pay or do.

-avoidance almost never pays off. If you put off going to the dentist for a minor pain, you can wake up in sheer agony later that costs thousands of dollars to remedy.

-your laziness and bad habits can really put a strain on others. Your "I just never remember to take the trash out" excuse means someone is doing it for you and probably resenting the hell out of you. If you just "don't see what the big deal is" about telling your friends happy birthday, they might think you don't care about them. If you half-ass it at work, someone is picking up your slack and they know it's not fair.

-dishes take 5-10 minutes if you wash them right away. If you leave them for a couple nights it becomes a huge disgusting difficult slog and will only increase your dread.

-if you can only afford it on credit, you can't afford it. Only rely on credit if it's truly important or you know you're prepared to pay it off quickly.

-junk food is expensive and gets old.

-you really do have to eat vegetables, floss your teeth, clean up your messes. None of these things are difficult once you form the habit.

-almost nobody knows what they're doing all the time and almost everybody feels like a fraud or a kid sometimes.
posted by kapers at 11:11 AM on July 31, 2016 [24 favorites]

Take care of your health: eat good food, walk or do some sort of exercise regularly.
posted by X4ster at 12:24 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 to everything kapers mentions above, although I would go further about credit.

Never buy anything on credit, ever, unless you are certain that it will either go up in value or otherwise generate income for you that more than covers the interest. A house is the usual example that it's sensible to buy on credit, with a mortgage. It is possible, if you haven't planned well, that you might need to borrow to buy a car that works in order to reliably get to work (and the work generates the income to pay for the loan). It is preferable to buy a cheaper car as long as it's reliable. Another thing worth borrowing for is education, as long as the payback is an increased income in the future to pay off your student loans.

If the bank won't lend you money you want to borrow, it's a very good sign that you can't really afford it and/or it's not a sensible thing for you to borrow at that time. Don't complain about the bank, just take it as good advice.

Never use a credit card unless you're sure you can pay back the entire balance on the due date. Insist on the bank setting up an automatic payment to arrange this so that you never pay the ludicrous interest rates on them. Don't take out a credit card unless you can get this set up and are sure you will be able to pay it off each month.

If you are lucky enough to be able to keep your health, the only thing that can ever seriously stuff up your life is debt.
posted by tillsbury at 2:05 PM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I got pretty good training overall but I really wish someone had explained to me anything at all about doing my own taxes.

I also wish I'd learned more about house maintenance, and stuff like how a toilet or sink or faucet works.

Basic drug interactions - like not taking ibuprofen, aspirin OR tylenol with alcohol or coffee. Everyone should know that, and neither my husband nor I did, and we got him a nice ulcer as a result.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2016

Seconding the retirement plan - learning about this myself and one of the things they suggest for this is starting a 401k or Roth IRA or IRA early. There are a bunch of tools and videos on this, including some basic info from Last Week Tonight. You could also schedule a meeting with a fiduciary to make a plan for your money.

Here's a mix of other little adulting things, a lot of which are social. Also a note that acquiring a bunch of these skills can be easier/more fun with company - either a community class or something like the Brooklyn Brainery could be a fun way to get motivated, or through doing some of these things with friends or with future kids:

Holiday stuff - carving pumpkins, figuring out how to shop for and cook for a holiday gathering, barbeque, making holiday cookies, decorating.

Riding a bike

Thank you notes - mostly seem to send these to older people, but sending thank you emails is appreciated for gifts or favors where you didn't get to thank the person in person (and they might not know that you got the thing, or the meeting with the mutual friend worked out), and something for after job interviews or informational interviews (look up examples online). Just little social things like that or remembering someone's birthday or sending get well/sympathy cards/letters/phone calls help out relationships. My brother taught me that when you have to give difficult news or contact someone in a difficult time, doing it face to face or at least voice to voice can really matter to someone. Learning basic wedding or funeral etiquette.

CPR, basic first aid

How to (not approach) treat wildlife

Exploring your local parks and learning about the plants and animals there. Local history.

Planting and growing something

Learning about different customs broadens your world - basic practices of different religions or about cultural Histories (why you don't send flowers to Jewish funerals, for example. Or what Ramadan is or how hospitality is handled in Japan, etc).

How to be involved with politics (local, state, federal) - registering to vote if you haven't already, what happens when you call your representative, volunteer, etc)

Learning how to calm yourself down and process emotions through mindfulness, how to argue constructively with a partner or friend, how to deal with anger or frustration.

Everyone's always learning something - good luck and take care!
posted by Geameade at 2:48 PM on July 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh, sorry, forgot:

Basic health stuff as you get older -
If you're female, pap smears and self breast exams - look up how old you should be when starting those, but it's younger than when you start mammograms.
If you're male, can't hurt to know about the importance of the above so you know more about women's experiences. Also testicular self exams.

Keeping an eye on moles and freckles for potential changes or worrying signs.
posted by Geameade at 2:59 PM on July 31, 2016

I would say one of the most adult skills is seeking expert advice -- not just trusting blindly, but also not feeling everything has to be bootstrapped personally. It's ok to consult.

I think this is a great piece of advice that I wouldn't have thought to give. Seeking advice or consulting with others also extends your participation in the community and in your social circle. People are flattered to be asked for advice or help (so long as you aren't imposing and making them do things for you) and it can be a good way to get to know new neighbours.
posted by kitten magic at 6:05 PM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't beat yourself up in your effort to Adult Well. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are adults.

Home Comforts is a great resource, but don't consider it a prescriptive guide to what life should be like. The person who wrote it is incredible thorough and genuinely seems to love keeping house, which is nice but not for everyone. Take what's helpful and don't feel bad shelving the rest.

Two good things from Home Comforts are (a) the concept of daily and weekly cleaning routines and (b) the practice of defining when a task is done, preferably in advance. Just decide that when you've done a pre-determined set of tasks, you're done for the day/week/whatever.

And that applies not just to housekeeping but to this whole enterprise of Being an Adult. Decide what level of effort you're personally okay with and stop there without guilt. As long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else, you're fine. Take care of those basic responsibilities and then sit back with a glass of lemonade and enjoy.
posted by delight at 6:40 PM on July 31, 2016 [5 favorites]

Time management - using a calendar, thinking about how long things will take and planning accordingly, etc. I sure wish I'd learned this early.
posted by marguerite at 10:31 PM on July 31, 2016

How to show hospitality to dinner guests and houseguests. Throwing parties and entertaining people for more than a day is a skill. Timing a meal when you're entertaining is a brilliant skill.

Sending prompt thank you notes for gifts, extra-thoughtful gestures, recommendations, and job interviews.

How to reach out to someone going through a life transition, whether happy or difficult (marriage, divorce, birth of a child, death of a loved one, graduation, loss of job, etc).
posted by Pearl928 at 11:38 PM on July 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think "How to Sex Well" is a really useful skill that I am still learning, and didn't really get fluent in until I was forty. Massive quality of life multiplier! Of course particulars will depend on your own thang, but for me:

-bedroom communication, how to without shyness / guilt ask partner and tell about what you want
-how to masturbate / mutual masturbate with a partner without feeling shy / guilty about it
-where clit is and how to properly massage it / cunnilingus technique
-periods, cycle of fertility, when is more / less safe if you are doing m-f penetrative sex
posted by Meatbomb at 12:13 AM on August 1, 2016

Nothing how to cook, clean and do your laundry.

The skill I fell I missed out on is "how to fight like a grown-up" by which I mean how to disagree about important things without turning it into a huge drama and in a way that allows for a useful discussion. If someone had showed me how to say "well, I don't agree, because... but I support your right to your opinion" I could have saved myself oodles of strife.
posted by girlgenius at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

In a lot of dysfunctional families, there's an all or nothing approach when criticizing someone.

Therefore, I recommend manners, polite language, and mindfulness. I'm sure I forget to say thank you/you're welcome a lot. I fail at learning how to ask for things politely, or criticize someone politely. I'm not mindful of what people around me want, and tend to think mostly of myself.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 2:18 AM on August 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

- How to stand up for themselves and knowing that they are 'allowed' to do that/worthy of it.

- How to see a project through to the end (managing their own time).

- How to mix with other kids (and also adults). I was an only child so I was not around other children often. I went to school with other kids but I was a 'loner' and during the holidays, I basically had no one to hang out with because I wasn't sent to any clubs or societies. It took a very long time to adjust to other people. I'm 30 something and it's still tricky.

- How to have a conversation. I guess it's a case of ensuring that they're listening to everyone and also responding/contributing. People will say 'listening' is the better skill and that may be true but as a life-long listener, I find I fail terribly at the 'responding' part (like... what the fuck do you say back?)! As a result, I have spent a long time around people who love to speak but not listen, meaning more feelings of 'loneliness' on my part. Now that i'm responding more, i've found people who can meet me halfway. If you've never had a good, equal conversation, you will probably dislike people.

- That there is nothing wrong with renting and you don't need to jump straight into getting a mortgage. My mum basically put it into my head that renting was a waste of money and that I should only move if I can afford a mortgage, otherwise it's 'money down the drain'. It's not bad advice... if you're rich. Do what is necessary for you.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 5:00 AM on August 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

One thing I learned is that some things get automatic with practice, and so they seem really easy to other people but are not going to be really easy for me for a while. Housecleaning was like this for me. Everyone else seemed just to be able to clean their houses, and I would stand there paralyzed, not knowing what to do first. What helped me was to find a checklist online that broke it down into very, very small tasks. Instead of saying "clean the bathroom," it said "take everything out of the tub and put that stuff somewhere else. Spray some cleaner in the tub and wait five minutes. Take a damp cleaning rag and scrub the tub. Rinse the tub. Put everything back." And then it did the same thing for the toilet and the counters and the floor. I followed the checklist for a couple of months, and after that I realized that housecleaning had become easy and automatic to me.

Another thing that I realized pretty late was that I was expecting myself to remember too many things, and that stressed me out. Now, I'm much better about writing stuff down. Have a running to-do list that you can add to when you realize that you need to do something. I use the Wunderlist app for my personal to-do list (I just added "buy toilet paper" and "renew car registration"), and I actually make a to-do list on paper every morning at work. I make a shopping list before I go to the grocery store. Writing things down is good for my sanity.

(I don't come from a dysfunctional family. I just somehow managed not to pick up adulting skills until well into adulthood.)
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:59 AM on August 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I have a 2.5 year old son. One thing my husband and I do is offer narration and explanations for all the things we do around the house. For example, we explain that we tidy up the house (he helps) because it's relaxing to have a clean space to live in, and because we don't want our possessions to be broken or lost. We clean every day because if the job gets too big, it's hard to get started. We explain that we clean the kitchen so we'll always have clean tools and dishes whenever we need to cook or eat, and so our kitchen doesn't have too many germs in it. We cook because it's important to be able to take care of your body by feeding yourself healthy and tasty food when you need it, and because the food at restaurants costs a lot. He already does a fair bit of cooking with me. Obviously that doesn't mean he can cook on his own! But cooking and baking are not unfamiliar to him. You get the idea. We do ask our son to do a small amount of household work (sorting silverware, picking up toys, helping with laundry), but if he refuses we don't push too hard. The long-term strategy is to convince him that self-care and housework are:
a) not optional,
b) not intimidating at all.

I don't want him to feel that there's only one right way to do things, or that cooking and taking care of one's home/possessions is some kind of complicated religion. You don't have to use exactly the right products to do laundry and most of the settings work just fine. You can clean the counters with whatever. You can make simple food or you can make complicated food, it doesn't much matter, and while cooking can be an art form, it doesn't have to be. Following directions carefully is good enough. Cooking doesn't have to be your "thing" for you to be competent. Interior decoration doesn't have to be your "thing" for you to have a tidy space to live that's healthy and functional. You don't have to be a "neat freak" who panics at the sight of a dust bunny to appreciate that at least mostly keeping up with the housecleaning makes things easier overall.

We are also teaching him, as best we can, to be grateful for all the things we have. Every single time we buy food, we talk about how nice it is that we have such good food, and how some people do not have enough. We point out that we have a safe, nice space to live in, that we have enough clothes and books and toys, and that generally we have everything we need. Yesterday he looked around the house and told me "we have a lot of presents", and proceeded to point out all the dozens and dozens of things that we have been given over the years, from cooking pots from our wedding before he was born, to books from Grandma and a sweatshirt from a friend and a small toy I gave him for his birthday. That made me really happy. I think that a big component of taking care of one's self and possessions is appreciating their value.
posted by Cygnet at 6:52 AM on August 1, 2016 [16 favorites]

How to manage a household. From an early age, my mom involved me in preparing the grocery list - looking at the pantry to see what was running low, looking at the sale flyer to determine what was on sale (and what we had room for in the freezer/pantry), how to determine if something was actually a "good deal" vs just a routine sale price. Then, while grocery shopping, she taught me how to read labels, do simple math to figure out approximate cost of two similar items (easier at stores that list the cost per ounce right on the labels!), and had a lot of emphasis on need versus want. I still use these skills every week.
posted by writermcwriterson at 10:39 AM on August 1, 2016

Budgeting, cooking good meals from scratch, self love and paying your own bills
posted by izz97 at 3:49 PM on August 1, 2016

I think that Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior is THE manual for knowing how to treat others and how to reasonably expect them to treat you.

Because there are many people around who have not read this book, they are often rude without knowing or intending it. This may or may not upset you but when it does, at least you'll have a reality check about that upset and what, if anything, to do in response.

In turn, if you follow the book to the letter you will find that many people are inordinately thrilled by the way you treat them. For example, if you send someone a thank-you letter on paper, as the book prescribes (this was before email but letters are still strongly encouraged) then people are often delighted way out of proportion to the gesture.

Miss Manners is probably the most strict, but also the most humane, compassionate and progressive of all the etiquette experts of our time.


Another thing it's important to know is what constitutes verbal abuse and what kinds of responses are effective for shutting that shit down. Patricia Evans' book on the subject gives detailed scenarios and scripts.

You may also find her book "Controlling People" to be useful. (Also a good litmus test: if someone sees it on your shelf and goes 'aha! controlling people! great, now I won't have to put up with other people's bulllshit any more' that is probably a red flag) It explains a particular style of relating to the world that is quite widespread and leads to behaviours that are inexplicable unless you recognize that they are unified by the concept described in the book. That's more a matter of "interesting further reading", unless... your dad is someone you recognize on the pages of the book, in which case yay for another manual.
posted by tel3path at 7:51 PM on August 1, 2016

Learn how to read a paper map and practice navigating with it. My cousin just got his driver's license and is afraid to drive here because he loses his cell phone signal here. Everyone should know how to get around without GPS. When I got my license it was a few years before cell phones took off and my parents made sure I always had a road atlas in my car.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:31 PM on August 1, 2016

You can't expect to optimize for more than one thing*. "Fear Of Missing Out" inspires people to churn from one goal to the next -- so no goal is seriously pursued, and even the energy of changing plans is considerable. One alternative is to satisfice for most things -- figure out what's good enough, and when you find *a* good enough solution, stick with it.

* (Maybe you have a resource you can't apply to Goal One and you can optimize its application to Goal Two, but often not.)
posted by clew at 2:05 AM on August 2, 2016

Pick your friends well. Picking friends who have mastered some or all of the great skills people have mentioned above: a powerful way of getting better in the way that you want.
posted by storybored at 11:46 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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