Life Skills for Adults: 5 Types You Need to Know (2024)

Blog Well-being

By Madeline Miles

July 12, 2023 - 20 min read

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Life Skills for Adults: 5 Types You Need to Know (2)

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What are life skills for adults?

What do you gain by honing your life skills?

5 types of life skills for navigating adulthood

You’re never too old to stop learning

No one enters adulthood without bumps in the road. You spend your paycheck too fast, clog the sink in your first apartment, or miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t keep track of your time.

These are all growth opportunities, and you might find yourself wishing you had the skills to avoid them in the first place. And whether you’re just starting college or discovering a skills gap later in life, you can start learning.

Developing the most important life skills for adults can help you feel more confident when problem-solving and planning ahead. It’s never too late to learn new things.

The power is in your hands to organize your life and take initiative, and sometimes learning a few new skills is enough to give you the boost you need to make small but pivotal changes.

What are life skills for adults?

The life skills you need to conquer adulthood include emotional intelligence, housekeeping, and budgeting skills, but the list is nearly endless.

If you’re a parent, you’ll need to learn patience and discipline, and if you’re a homeowner, you might find yourself picking up simple plumbing and repair skills. The skills you need to know vary depending on your lifestyle, but many are useful to almost everyone.

Adult life skills give you the tools to move through every day with more confidence, whether you have a solid 5 year plan or are still finding your passion. You’ll know that when you do face roadblocks, you can overcome them instead of feeling lost.

No matter what life stage you’re at, reflecting on your strengths and identifying the skills you need to build can prepare you for the future and improve your quality of life.

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What do you gain by honing your life skills?

When you work on your life skills, you gain assurance and autonomy. It’s impossible to become an expert at everything, but even knowing the basics can boost your independence while entering adulthood. You won’t have to call your parents for financial advice or hire a carpenter to make simple furniture fixes — you can do it yourself.

Learning new skills, no matter what kind, also improves your brain’s function. New experiences and skills promote neuroplasticity, which helps you absorb information, recover from injury, and even increase your brain volume.

5 types of life skills for navigating adulthood

In everyday life, less-than-fun tasks are constantly calling for your attention. You have to tidy the house, do your taxes, or have a difficult conversation you’d rather avoid. Learning essential life skills makes the tasks you don’t look forward to easier to manage, and once you feel more confident, you might even start to anticipate and enjoy them.

Taking courses or learning on your own can help you learn new things, and there are hundreds of free resources to support you throughout the process. Google, YouTube, and even TikTok have in-depth how-tos to walk you through new skills and troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Here are five types of basic life skills for adults, with examples, to inspire you and offer some direction as you stay on the path to learning:

1. Emotional intelligence skills

Also known as EI or EQ, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions while keeping in touch with what others feel. It defines how you practice self-care, celebrate your wins, and empathize with the people around you.

As an adult, you’ll inevitably find yourself in situations where someone needs help, care, or love — and sometimes that person is yourself. The stronger your emotional intelligence is, the more prepared you’ll be to practice communication skills and support the people around you.

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Here are some emotional intelligence skills to work on:

  • Assertiveness: At work, in a group of friends, or with a significant other, people might take advantage of you. Learning how to advocate for yourself, set clear boundaries, and express your feelings can help prevent those situations and give you more confidence. Being assertive isn’t negative — it’s about standing up for who you are and what you believe in.
  • Empathy: Empathy is different from sympathy. Instead of taking pity on others, you put yourself in their shoes and truly understand their emotions. The people in your life will appreciate your willingness to see them honestly, and you’ll gain a reputation for being a good friend.

  • Self-awareness: Critical thinking doesn’t just apply to how you absorb information. It’s also about analyzing your own thoughts and actions and recognizing when you’re in the wrong. Self-awareness lets you look inward and truly know yourself, giving you the tools to put your best foot forward both socially and intrinsically.

2. Housekeeping skills

Most people don’t look forward to a day of housekeeping work and often procrastinate on those tasks. But the faster and more effectively you can accomplish these chores, and the more you can think of them as necessary or even fun, the better off you’ll be.

Have a look at the following housekeeping skills you can develop:

  • Cooking: When you have to cook every day, it can become a to-do you’d rather avoid — especially if you have picky kids or feel like you have no time. But mindful eating can make you happier and healthier, and it’s worth it to focus on your food intake and get the nutrients you need. Watching cooking shows or making mealtime a family event can make the process more enjoyable. And it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your time management skills to fit cooking into your schedule.
  • Home repairs: Don’t own a hammer, paintbrush, or tape measure? It might be time to invest in some light housekeeping skills, whether that’s finding the right lightbulbs or fixing a running toilet. Not only will you impress yourself, but you’ll save the money you’d spend hiring someone else.
  • Sewing: Clothing doesn’t last forever, but knowing how to take care of and repair it can extend the lifetime of your wardrobe. If you learn basic sewing skills, you can repair small rips or tears, shorten the too-long pants you bought, or even make a homemade Halloween costume.

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3. Relationship skills

Not everyone’s idea of family involves children. The US birth rate is declining, but adoption rates are steadily growing. But whether you decide to start a family or not, improving your relationships with the people around you —friends, significant others, relatives —is quality time well spent.

You’ll strengthen family dynamics, gain a better understanding of your loved ones, and inspire them throughout their lives, whether they’re your nieces and nephews or your chosen family.

Hone these interpersonal skills to become a more compassionate person:

  • Patience: Family will test the limits of even the calmest individuals. Growing up with someone, or spending extensive time with them, means they might start to get on your nerves. But taking a minute to step back and see them for who they are can help you be more patient and empathize.
  • Independence: Staying true to yourself and knowing when to be alone is a vital skill, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Autonomy in relationships lets you find time for self-reflection, build self-esteem on your own, and avoid codependency. The time you spend by yourself is arguably as important (if not more) as the time you spend with the people you love.
  • Setting boundaries: Maybe you don’t want your partner to discuss a triggering topic or won’t see friends on busy days of the week. Communicating those boundaries leads to deeper and more respectful relationships that give people space when they need it. Don’t forget that other people can set boundaries, too, and active listening helps you stay attentive to them.

4. Money management skills

Many states don’t have regulations on whether schools need to teach financial literacy, which is why so many Americans struggle financially. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 57% of people say money is a main source of stress.

But it’s never too late to work on your budgeting and money management skills. Financial wellness is a long road for some, but it can give you peace of mind and help you make more confident decisions.

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Learn these money management skills to put you on a better path to easing financial stress:

  • Budgeting: By getting a handle on your income, credit card spending, and bills, you’re setting yourself up for a more relaxed relationship with money. Learning how to budget gives you a backup plan and helps you make informed choices. Analyze how much you spend and pull back if you need to. The process might be difficult, but it’ll be worth it in the long run to build savings and security.
  • Personal banking: Having a bank account can help you manage your money and pay bills more easily, but learning about different account types and interest rates can be complicated and even intimidating. Don’t be afraid to speak with a financial advisor or trusted friend to help you navigate it all. By understanding the nuances of various accounts, you open the door to new opportunities for investments, savings, and long-term financial goals.
  • Savings: More than half of Americans don’t have an emergency fund, which puts them at risk of debt when disaster does strike. In your budget, allocate some money every month to put away and save for emergencies or rainy days. It’ll give you peace of mind and prepare you for life’s challenges.
  • Planning for retirement: Whether your employer offers a 401k match or not, you’ll need to plan ahead to save for retirement. Start investing early, take advantage of compound interest, and understand the limits of different types of accounts. The sooner you start keeping retirement in mind, the more you’ll be able to put aside for your future.
  • Insurance: It’s a cliche, but life is full of surprises. You never know when you might face a health issue or other emergency, whether that’s an illness in the family or a flooded house. Familiarize yourself with the employee benefits available to you, and fill in the gaps with things you find your employer doesn’t offer.

5. Tech skills

Technology has become a mainstay of modern life, and some skills are becoming increasingly essential both for personal safety and professional development. According to the Institute for the Future, 85% of the projected jobs for young people in 2030 didn’t even exist in 2019, and if you want to stay up to date with in-demand roles, you have to stay up to date with tech.

By learning tech skills, you’ll be able to work at innovative companies, roll with changes when they occur, and keep in step with trends and jobs that won’t be automated as technology develops. And in your personal life, you’ll be better equipped to protect yourself online.

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Here are a few tech skills to hone:

  • Password management: If you’re on the internet, you’re familiar with the routine of signing up, signing in, and creating a strong password. Storing and managing your login information tests your organizational skills.

    Create secure usernames and passwords and keep track of them. And when it comes to sensitive information like banking or medical data, protecting yourself from hacking or forgetting your password becomes especially vital.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is a soft skill, but it’s also important to keep in mind when navigating the internet.

    A 2020 survey found that almost 40% of people have shared incorrect news, and learning how to think critically and research information is a key skill when it comes to filtering the facts. Anyone can post anything online, and it’s your job to distinguish between the correct and the questionable.

  • Communication: Communication skills are important for almost every area of your life, but they’re especially vital online when you have to rely on the written word. Sometimes, your tone might come off differently in an email, and you’ll need to write professionally to get your message across the same way you would verbally.

You’re never too old to stop learning

By honing life skills for adults, you’re helping both yourself and the people in your life. Feeling more confident as you navigate through the world lets you face challenges with determination and ease, whether you need to fix a leaky faucet or exercise creative thinking to solve an interpersonal problem. Do yourself a favor and start learning. It’s never too late to continue building your skills.

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Published July 12, 2023

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) —and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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Life Skills for Adults: 5 Types You Need to Know (2024)


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