The transition into adulthood brings excitement, freedom and a whole set of baggage stuffed with responsibility, change and uncertainty. In 1997, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics began a study with nearly 9,000 young adults. As the study progressed, the data revealed that 9.7% of the participants moved out at 17 whereas 33.7 moved out at 18. This is the steepest move out rate for young adults leaving home between the ages 18-26. Interestingly, by the time they were 26 years old, 49.2% had moved back home at least once. Young adults move back in for various reasons and among those reasons, many find they just weren’t prepared. Check out these five ideas to discuss with your young adult loved ones to help them take flight into independence.
- Don’t be Independent
Yes, that’s right. To be independent you must avoid independence…initially. Transitioning into independence implies you are not yet self-sufficient, so you are going to need some help from others who are successful in this regard. Beware of rigid self-reliance in the early phases. Rigid trees are more likely to break than flexible trees in strong winds. Don’t let your independence break because you were too self-reliant to ask for help! Step one is to identify mentors who can support your transition with insight and direction. If you’re in high school or college, consider the school guidance counselors – it may be the last time you’ll get a counselor for free!
- Take Small Steps
There can be fear and uncertainty when looking at big goals. Break them down. Keep the larger goal in mind and then get with your helpers to identify the tiny steps it will take to reach the top. Success is much more likely when you do your best to organize progress in smaller chunks. As you start to leave the nest, try measuring progress in percentages. For example, “now I’m 10% independent! Now I’m 20% there!”
- Learn About Money and Credit
You will need to learn how to deal with money effectively and understand the basics of credit. Money is tricky and mentors with experience in responsible money and credit management and can bring some wisdom to help you avoid serious pitfalls. Some questions to check off as you get started:
- What is a budget and how do I write one?
- What are financial literacy classes and how can they help?
- How much money should I save before moving out?
- What is a credit score, why is it important and how do I build credit?
- Get a Job and Keep It
Put some thought into how you will make your money to make an autonomous life viable. If you aren’t bringing in money, there is no way to sustain independence for very long. When work becomes frustrating, check it in with your mentors and helpers. More times than not, the best decision that supports independence is to hold on to your job for now. And when you’re ready, it’s may be easier to find a job once you have a job.
- Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you spend time enjoying your life. Transitioning into independence is stressful, but it will help you find a deep sense of liberation and fulfillment at the same time. Learn to balance all this responsibility with fun, relaxation, and self-care. Make plans with friends after work, sign up at that yoga studio next door to your job, go to the beach and hug the people you love.
These guidelines will get you started. Keep learning and keep moving. You’ll get there by taking action and seeking help along the way.
About the Author:
Matthew Browning is an LMSW who works as a psychotherapist at The Lovett Center and is a member of the Young Adult Intensive Outpatient Program team. He specializes in schema therapy to help his clients meet their needs they struggle to satisfy at work, in relationships and within the self.