12 Things All Adults Should Do or Put on Their To-Do List


While you can enjoy a lot about being an adult, adulthood also involves taking on a number of significant responsibilities. Some responsibilities, such as your work duties, fit your specific life and circumstances. However, most adults have the same general responsibilities.

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These duties don’t need to overwhelm you. Instead, you should create an adult to-do list. 

This isn’t a basic daily to-do list, featuring tasks you need to complete each day. Instead, it features tasks that involve tending to your long-term responsibilities. 

Your “things adults do” list should feature tasks like:

1. Update Emergency Contacts

Emergencies can happen. You should have an updated list of emergency contacts in your phone or some other place/device where others can easily access them. If you have children or take care of someone else (such as an elderly parent), you want to update those emergency contact lists as well.

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2. Make Plans for Specific Emergencies

Consider the types of emergencies that may strike, such as fires, emergency health situations, hazardous weather conditions, and anything else you can think of. Make thorough, practical plans accordingly. Make sure all others involved in the plans also understand them.

You may even want to bolster everyone’s confidence by practicing following the plans routinely. For example, it’s not uncommon for some families to practice home fire drills.

3. Get Insured

Adults pay for insurance. While not always enjoyable to buy, you must have insurance. Some important types of insurance include health, homeowners, and life insurance. When an emergency strikes, you should know whether you can manage your circumstances financially.

4. Make a Personal Bucket List

Bucket List

Most of the tasks this blog entry covers include practical tasks that involve addressing adulthood responsibilities. However, you should also consider your own personal goals as an adult.

A bucket list includes the things you want to do, places you want to go, skills you want to learn, and other things you want to do before you die. Making one (and making a point of crossing off an item on your list when you have the chance to do so) offers great rewards.

You don’t want to reach the end of your life, only to look back and feel as though you didn’t have all the experiences you would have liked. The odds of that happening lower when you take the time to make a bucket list.

5. Make a Will

You may not enjoy thinking about your own death, but all adults should prioritize making a will. Make sure your assets and estate go to the right people in the right way when you die.

Luckily, you can make a will pretty easily. While you may want to coordinate with a lawyer or similar professional during the process, a tool like an online will maker can at least help you get started.

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6. Save for Retirement

Retirement can seem far off when you first enter the workforce. However, it will arrive one day, more quickly than you might think. When it does, you want to be sure you prepare yourself financially.

Make saving for retirement a top priority. Perhaps more importantly, be proactive about it. Instead of simply setting aside some money every week, research retirement planning strategies, optimize your investment portfolio, and work with professionals to ensure you put yourself in a financially stable position when you finally do retire. You'll feel grateful you put in the effort to do so in the long run.

7. Save for Other Future Expenses

Depending on your circumstances, you may not want to save only for retirement. For example, let's say you plan to help your kids pay for college. You should start a college fund sooner rather than later. Make a list of all other major future expenses you may expect to incur in life and decide how you’re going to save for them.

8. Teach Your Kids Various Life Skills

If you have kids, they won't stay young forever. They can't always rely on you to cook meals or support them financially. You need to prepare them for their own adult lives by teaching them the life skills they’ll need, and teaching them those skills to the best of your ability. Doing so often gives you the opportunity to bond with your kids as well.

9. Make a Long-Term Health Plan

Health Plan Template

Feeling out of shape, tired, or otherwise unwell isn’t merely uncomfortable. It’s a reminder that as an adult, no one else will address your health needs the way your parents or guardians might have. It’s on you to remain healthy.

Create a long-term health and wellness plan. Although the specific details of the plan can vary from one person to another based on a range of factors, such as chronic health conditions and family medical history, your plan should include general steps you can take every day to ensure you remain as healthy as possible for years. For example, your plan could involve dietary guidelines, a detailed plan to optimize your sleep, and fitness goals.

Keep in mind that you should keep your cognitive and mental/emotional health as in check as your weight, flexibility, and other common health priorities. Also address them when making a health plan.

Your plan may include various steps you can take (from eating the right foods to playing mental training games on a regular basis) to optimize your cognitive abilities for years to come. To maximize your long-term emotional wellness, you may emphasize the importance of daily meditation when drafting a plan.

You only have one body. Do everything you can to take care of it.

10. Say What You Need to Say

This task may seem less practical but offers a very important benefit.

It’s not uncommon in adult life to feel you have something to tell or say to someone, while also feeling you’re not ready to do so. Maybe you want to make amends with an estranged parent. Perhaps you want to impart certain advice to your kids. Maybe you want to tell an old friend about something they did for you in the past that meant more than they knew.

You may feel reluctant to say what you need to say to someone. However, you may not always have the opportunity to do so. Some specific instances may demand a longer wait before reaching out to someone and telling them something important, but in general, you don't want to wait until it's too late. Telling someone about what’s been on your mind often offers relief.

11. Plan for Future Care

There may come a day when you need some form of routine care due to illness, cognitive decline, or both. You might assume this may occur as you age, but you may need this type of care at any time in life.

That’s why it’s a very good idea for adults to set aside enough time for thorough advance care planning. This can involve officially naming someone to make medical and similar decisions for you if you can no longer make such decisions yourself, specifying the type of end-of-life care you may want, and more. You want to make sure you receive the care in the way you wish to.

12. Make Emergency Care Plans for Others

Planning for your own future care isn’t the only type of advance care planning you should prioritize. Others in your life may rely on you in various ways. If, for some reason, you cannot offer the care and support they need one day, you should come up with a plan to ensure someone else qualified to do so takes over.

Naturally, you may make such a plan for your children’s care. Officially naming someone to care for them if you can’t will give you much-needed peace of mind. If you have pets, you should also make an emergency pet care plan.

Things Adults Do: Managing Life’s Responsibilities

Are these the most “fun” examples of things adults do? Not necessarily. On the other hand, you can have more fun when you don't have to stress out about unaddressed responsibilities.

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