7 Little Hacks For Getting Ahead In Life (Without Having To Try That Hard)

On our 18th birthdays, many of expected to finally feel grown-up. Something magical was supposed to happen overnight, we thought -- some new, incredibly worldly stream of consciousness would take over -- but nothing did. Same thing at 21. Again … no pixie dust. No fairies. So when does adulthood happen? What’s the secret?

It turns out that there isn’t a single secret to living like a grown-up. There are, however, some super simple (and super important) things those of us in our 20s should be doing; these ingredients, when baked together, create a lovely, adult-tasting soufflé. (Speaking of which, have you upped your dessert game? That’s adult.) In partnership with Anthem, we bring them to you here. Call them hacks, habits or whatever you want. We just recommend you start doing them.

1. Before you hit send, think hard.

Pre-text. Pre-publish. Before you do anything that involves words or pictures that could live electronically to infinity and beyond, take a moment and ask yourself if it’s something that you might regret. What if Mom saw it? Your favorite high school teacher? Or your future kids, whose computer chips implanted in their brains will probably be able to Google that stuff? If it gives you a stomachache thinking they might, delete it. Especially if “it” is a picture of your butt. Any butt, really.

2. Spend less than you make (what adults call “saving”).

Switch from lattes to drip, paint your own fingernails. Every chance that you get, hack away at your credit card debt. Because paying interest on a Starbucks is as silly as it sounds. And if you’re in the position to, contribute to your company’s 401(k) retirement plan. To quote Kim Zolciak from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”: “Don’t be tardy to the party.” As financial planner Brian T. Jones told Bankrate.com, "These years of saving in your early 20s are your prime years.” (He’s basically paraphrasing Kim Zolciak, too.)

3. Stop insulting yourself in front of other people.

Are you a comedian whose life story is becoming Judd Apatow’s next movie? Then insult yourself all you want, because that’s your shtick and it’s going to make you rich. All others: stop it. If you act like you have a low opinion of yourself, other people -- especially at work -- will respond accordingly. Do not put yourself down, question your abilities or make self-deprecating jokes about yourself in front of your boss. And never start questions with “Sorry, but … ”

4. Keep your résumé updated.

Because an amazing, incredible, you-can’t-believe-it job opportunity could come along -- even where you work now. If you give yourself one night to write and proof it, there’s a good chance that you will have a mistake in it. Or two or three mistakes in it. People with three mistakes in their résumés who are not the nephew of the CEO are probably not getting the job. Keep that sucker up to date. Plus, trying to crystalize your prior work experience years after the fact sucks -- trust us.

5. Get rid of your junk, and take care of what isn’t.

A perk of adulthood: You won’t need your binders from 8th grade. Toss them. Now. Once you’ve whittled down, take care of what you’re keeping. For clothing, know basic stain removal techniques for things like chocolate, red wine and blood; how to sew on a button; and what to do if someone spills water all over your hardwood floors. This is why you can have nice stuff.

6. Worry less about what other people think of you.

People aren’t spending that much time thinking about you, despite what your Instagram likes may say. Sorry, but they aren’t. Mom and Dad probably do. Very good friends might. If you’re in a relationship, that person better be thinking about you, and often. But strangers, acquaintances, colleagues and the line of people behind you in Starbucks? They don’t care. (And again, cool it with the pricey coffees.) So stop worrying about what they think or if they like you or approve of your bangs. The main person you need to please is yourself. If you can do that, it’s more likely that other people will follow suit.

7. Get more sleep.

This is the fun one. Getting enough sleep is vital to your physical and mental health. Why? Chronic sleep deprivation causes memory loss, confusion, stress, health problems, overeating and -- oh, yeah -- a loss of brain tissue, and we all know grey matter matters. If being irritable and forgetful aren’t enough of a wake-up call, then we hope an aversion to losing brain tissue is. Get in bed earlier at night, turn off your phone and stop binge-watching episodes of “The Good Wife” all night. Your brain tissue will thank you.

Your health is top of mind. We understand. Let us help you find an affordable plan to get you covered. Anthem. You’ve got the will. We’ve got the way.