The Joys of “Adulting”

Taxes, retirement plans, mechanic bills, emergency savings accounts … there are so many unpleasant aspects of being an adult! Today, I’m devoting a post to these things. This post is sponsored by SimpliSafe and it inspired me to achieve something I had been procrastinating (for over two years!) … setting up my own home alarm system. At the ABM studio house we used SimpliSafe, and it’s a really great option for home security.

SimpliSafe keeps working even if you lose power or wifi, and reminds you if you leave a door open when leaving home. Setting up the security system was super easy, and I love that the design doesn’t stand out too much. The sensors are super small but still have a really long range, it’s a great blend of design and protection. It was designed to disappear into your home, and as you can see below, it blends with our decor and is barely even noticeable! It’s also super affordable (you can protect your home for $15 a month, no contracts). I’m one of those people who gets anxiety about the things I am procrastinating —from doctors or dental appointments, to needing to return an email or completing my taxes. So I was really happy to mark this off my list! These are the things that keep me up at night and stress me out … but they’re also the things that make me so proud of myself each time I complete them.

I’m not naturally organized or a perfectionist, so it’s easy for me to let things fall by the wayside. That said, completing our international adoption helped boost my confidence! I did something I didn’t think I could do … I mean, I HOPED I could, but in the beginning of our process it honestly felt impossible. We had over 100 pages of paperwork to complete, we each had to write an autobiography about our lives, we had to get papers from our doctors and reference letters (and they all had to be filled out exactly right). It was a LOT.

At the end of the process, I realized I CAN do difficult things. I can do a lot more than I thought. The difference was I made it the first priority at all times, because I was so excited to become a mom.

I also found things that help me stay motivated! Here’s my short list …

1. Small rewards and firm deadlines are a good combination.

If you have something looming in your life that you can’t seem to complete, set a deadline for yourself and choose a reward. Even if the reward is something relatively small like booking a massage or going out to dinner at your favorite spot, I found that visualizing these rewards made my task seem less daunting because I want to just finish it so I can get my “prize.”

I mean … if you’re not rewarding yourself after you finish your taxes, what is wrong with you???

2. Get advice from someone who has done it. 

Whatever the task, you probably have a friend, family member or colleague who has been in your shoes. Get their advice about the smartest and best ways to do what you need to do. In our adoption, we got some shortcuts and time-saving tips from other families who had done what we’d done. Get advice from those in your life who have more experience than you!

3. Book the appointment or take the first step TODAY. 

No matter how overwhelming your task, there is probably a first step. So send that first email, make that first phone call. Force yourself to take the first step today instead of putting it off. You’ll feel so relieved.

Being an adult is FAR from easy, but it won’t help you move forward to compare yourself to others or put yourself down. Instead, take one positive step. Start now.

4. Make a few big goals every year. 

For the past five years, I always had the feeling that I wasn’t being responsible enough. I felt guilty all the time, but I didn’t recognized that my guilt wasn’t going to help me move forward. So last year, in 2017, I made a few goals … about three. They were bigger goals, mostly having to do with money. When I achieved my goals by the end of the year, I felt so amazing.

I think that not setting goals makes it impossible to feel good about what you’ve achieved. If you don’t know what your goals are, you have no marker for when to celebrate or move on to a new goal.

When I was younger, I’d make tons of goals, but I never finished them all. I did those “25 things before I turn 26” lists. While those are more fun, I think that two to three big, important goals is more realistic for me and I love the feeling of actually completing them all!

I hope these tips have been helpful. I am living this truth in my own life right now. In fact, I have my own phone call that I need to make!

If you have tips for how to stay motivated and responsible, I would love to hear them! I learn so much from my sister, Emma, who is my “better half” in business. Have a great day! Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer.
  • I totally relate to this post! I definitely have procrastination anxiety (I am looking at a random bill right now that I have to pay but can’t seem to motivate). I have found that making a lot of lists (and crossing things off!) helps and definitely taking that first step is super important. It is never as bad as it seems when you just do it! I think we should all be gentle with ourselves too and count all the things we do accomplish as much as those we are struggling with.

  • This is literally what I’m devoting my life to right now. Figuring out how to “adult” – but without getting boring. lol. It’s really hard to find that balance between being responsible and just recklessly following your passions. All of your tips are blatant “YESes” in my book. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • This is funny to me. Not because I judge you (not by a long shot), but because you’re a self made (help from people along the way doesn’t negate that), co-owner of several successful businesses. You are a beloved friend, family member, wife, mother and inspirational blogger. You’ve gone through several properties that you’ve decorated and organized with skills. You have hired people and managed employees, found your own style, learned how to enjoy yourself when it’s time to and you’re doing great in your new role as a mother (Nova’s smile lights up all the photos you share and her happiness is palpable). You, my friend, are doing great in the adult world, don’t ever doubt yourself (although I’m sure you are very proud of all of this already). And to everyone who “feels” like they’re having a hard time adulting, I get it, I do, but it shouldn’t be a goal to adult “right”. There’s no such thing as a “right” way to adult. If you can pay your bills, keep a job, maintain meaningful relationships, and stay fairly healthy…’re an adult, period. You may not feel like the most successful person on the planet. You may equate success to a specific set of skills or accomplishments. I know I did for a while. Being an adult requires constant improvement. The older you get, the more responsibilities you get. Your only “job” is to navigate through those responsibilities as best you can while trying to chose things you love and working on yourself so that you can appreciate every little things you accomplish (finally getting the house clean, getting through that pile of laundry, getting a new job, obtaining a degree, spending quality time with some friends, getting some much needed me time, saving for a trip, filing your taxes on time, feeling good about that smoothie you had for breakfast or that one time you managed to go to the gym, etc.). You’re all doing just fine, keep on adulting y’all

  • I so appreciate your willingness to admit that you didn’t feel responsible enough. I often have the same feeling (despite doing a lot of “responsible” things) and it can be really defeating and lonely. It’s nice to know that there are other people (even ones I think must have it all together) that feel the same way and are willing to share that journey and advice.

  • The title of this blog post, resonates with me SO badly.
    Who knew growing up was so difficult? they do not prepare us in school for this!!

    Sophie |

  • I keep neglecting my goals (like for years!) to start savings accounts for my kids. It’s terrible. That’s important and I really need to just START it!

  • It would seem that you have everything so “together.” I was surprised (and admittedly pleased) that you are, in many respects, just like me–it’s hard for both of us to take that all-important FIRST STEP. This is an issue I have been actively working on for the past year with great results. I’m moving forward in life instead of sitting stagnant and am feeling so much better about myself and my circumstances. Here is just a small sampling of what I was able to achieve by taking that crazy-scary first step and, believe me, these issues were HUGE to me… A few months ago, I started a blog (EZ PZ) and I now have a new car after fretting and complaining needlessly for months on end that I needed to replace my old “beater” car, AND there is a positive move to a different home and community now in the works after literally years of discontent. Being proactive does not come easily to me, (obviously :)) but it is the ONLY way to go if one wants to succeed in just about anything. There is still one item niggling in the back of my mind on my list of “first steps” to take and that is picking up the telephone and making an appointment with a dentist (and fear of dentistry isn’t an issue for me). I need dental work–badly, but have put the task on “auto hold” for a ridiculously long time, for a wide variety of reasons, and therein lies the problem–Sometimes it seems that the issues are insurmountable; that there is just too much that needs to fall into place–I doubt myself constantly and fear of failure has held me back from essentially taking care of myself…. Today is Saturday but, come Monday morning, I AM making that call (even if it is with a shaky hand). Thanks so much for the prompt and for opening up your life to us and revealing a vulnerable side of yourself!!

  • There are so many “adult” things on my plate at the minute; I have a visa to file for my husband, a national insurance number to apply for while living in the UK, etc., etc.! I know that I need to take those first steps as you say, just to get the train moving so to speak. It makes things so much easier when you just DO IT. But why is that so hard?! PS. Gorgeous pictures.

  • Adulting is about take new things very maturely and carefully. Planing and work on achieve the target With joy.

  • I’m glad (is glad the word I’m looking for??) I’m not the only one who struggles with lists! Sounds silly but I would never think to bring down to three major things. Priotizing is hard but I’ve had to let a few things go to function but life is easier. Now to make short lists!!

  • I find small rewards so helpful!
    Sometimes just a cup coffee with a brownie make me super motivated to get through the day!


  • Love this! I just wrote something similar about all the “adulting” there is to do in April but how great it is to use the motivation of spring to get it all done. Great tips!

  • I’ve been thinking about home security systems now that I’m living alone! So glad you posted about this! Also- I’m huge fan of rewarding myself when I accomplish things! It’s definitely a motivator!

  • Seeing that first pic of you made me wonder if you still love your spools of thread tattoo? Just curious

    • Hi! Hmm… no one has asked me that. I guess I do sometimes and sometimes not.. but most of time time I forget they are even there. 🙂 xx

  • Ugh, I need big help adulting and I found this so useful! Especially taking the first step right now, today. I’ve been meaning to get started on a few projects now, and there’s really no better time than now. Thanks for the push! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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