Gentlemen, just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you’re a grown man. I know plenty of guys who are well into their 30’s and 40’s who still act like man-babies.
You see, we don’t magically become wise and responsible men as soon as we reach a certain age.
No, being a grown man is about being true to yourself, developing your character, and living with integrity.
Those are pretty vague concepts. So how do you know those things have happened? Here are a few signs you are finally a grown man.
Watch the video below or continue reading.
Big thanks to our sponsor Frey for making this post possible! Frey is a line of premium clothing care products boasting a scent inspired by the top men’s fragrances and created to be safer for your clothes and safer for the environment. Use offer code DISTILLED20 to save 20% off .
1. When You Make a Commitment, No One Expects You to Flake
One thing you learn as you get older is that your reputation is your greatest asset. Sure, you don’t want to be obsessed with what everybody say about you—because let’s face it, there are a lot of haters out there, too.
But you should pause and ask yourself, “what do the people that matter say about me when I’m not around?”
Do you want to be the guy whose word means nothing? The guy who no one can count on?
Or…do you want to be the man who people trust? Who does what he says he’s going to do…
Yeah, you want to be that man.
2. You Dress Your Best
I used to think that guys who paid a lot of attention to dressing well were selfish. And that dressing well was all about being self-centered.
What I realized is that dressing well isn’t just a superficial act—it actually changes the way you carry yourself.
When you take the care and attention to look your best, that attention to detail and discipline transfers over to other things in your life—much like when you start exercising regularly.
Dressing well is a way to show respect for yourself, but also to the people around you. As Tom Ford said,
Dressing well is a form of good manners.”
Finally, when you’re younger and idealistic, you’d like to believe that people don’t judge people based on how they look. But as you grow older and wiser, you realize that people judge books by their covers. And they’re not being shallow, it’s just the way humans are wired.
So why not try to present your best self whenever you can?
3. You Keep Your Environment in Order
If your life feels crazy and chaotic all the time, you probably need to take a hard look at your calendar and make some tough decisions. But you also need to look around at your environment.
Fortunately or unfortunately, your environment on the outside is a reflection of your your internal self. Chaotic environment=chaotic thoughts.
The good news is, if your environment or your mind feel cluttered, you’re not stuck in that situation. Wise men realize that they can take action to organize and declutter their environment, and that can help declutter and focus the mind.
Wise men also realize that for visitors, their environment is a window to their true character. It brings up the truism:
How you do anything is how you do everything.”
4. You’ve Replaced FOMO….With JOMO
When you’re younger and ultra-absorbed in what everyone is doing and what everyone else thinks, it’s easy to fall into the trap of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)—especially with social media these days.
You find yourself going to parties or signing up for activities not because they interest you, but just because you’re afraid of being left out—afraid that because you’re not following the rest of the pack that you’ll miss out on some great experience that everyone else had.
But as you grow older and wiser, you start to realize that making decisions based on fear is a terrible way to live. Instead, you realize that being attuned to your own interests and following your gut makes you way happier in the long run.
And that’s when you start to replace FOMO with what Basecamp cofounder Jason Fried calls “JOMO” or Joy Of Missing Out.
You take pleasure in saying no. Not being a jerk about it, but politely declining things if they don’t feel like they’re in your wheelhouse. Or if, frankly, maybe you’d prefer to spend your Friday evening binging Netflix and drinking wine instead of going to some loud party.
5. You Take Your Job Seriously (Even if it’s Just Temporary)
Most men go through times in their lives when they are working not just for career fulfillment, but to make a buck. It’s a means to an end.
But just because you’re only passing through, or even feel the job is “beneath you’ doesn’t mean you should let everyone know it.
A grown man knows that any job, no matter how lowly, is worth doing well. More to the point, a grown man understands that how he conducts himself when the stakes are a low—or when no one is looking—is a sign of his true character.
The inexperienced unwise man curses a task that’s beneath him. A wise, grown-ass man asks how he can do better…even if it’s just finding a superior way to mop a floor.
6. You Understand that Some Things are Worth Splurging On
When I first went out on my own, going to college and later moving to San Francisco, I was a cheap, cheap bastard.
I tried to save money any way I could. So I bought crappy stuff. And what happened? It didn’t last.
Frugality is a great habit to develop, but you also have to be smart. When you get older and wiser, you realize that some things are worth spending money on.
It’s different for everyone, but for me, at minimum it’s having:
- a good-quality, supportive bed (you do spend 1/3 your life in it after all)
- good shoes that support your feet and will actually last hopefully a few years at least
- high-quality, real food (food actually is the building block of your body), and finally,
- I think it’s worth investing in experiences—because experiences are what make memories, and those you have for the rest of your life…long after your bed and shoes have worn out.
7. You Recognize that Talent is Meaningless Without Hard Work
My dad used to carry around a quote in his wallet from Calvin Coolidge that said this:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Of course you know that hard work is important. But it’s not just that. Coolidge’s point is that talent and genius, if anything, are almost liabilities.
When you find that you are talented or “gifted”—or told that you are “precocious”—that can almost be a trap in youth.
When you are a grown man, you recognize that no matter how much of a head-start talent has given you, you have to put in the work. You may even need to work harder to create the work habit when you are talented.
8. You’ve Finally Learned to Appreciate Your Parents (Again)
No matter how close we are to our parents as kids, as we get older we crave independence…we try so hard to “grow up” that we begin to distance ourselves from them.
Even as we graduate from college and get jobs, we still keep our distance—mostly because we’re just self-centered.
And most of the time we still see the relationship with our parents as one where the onus is on them to maintain the relationship.
Hey, if mom didn’t call me, why should I call her? It’s her job to stay close to her son.
But as you get more mature, a couple things happen. First, you begin to see that yes, they are just mere mortals, with flaws. But you also have the impulse to give them a break.
You also start to realize that your time with your parents is finite. Your folks aren’t going to live forever.
So you realize that now that you’re grown ass man, you need to take the initiative in the relationship, and you also appreciate them so much more.
9. Failure is Now Feedback (And a Cue to Get Back in the Fight)
It’s easy to fear failure when you have very little life experience. You think every little misstep is going to have permanent ramifications.
The first time you disappoint an adult, you think you are a bad kid. The first time you get dumped, it feels like you’ll never find love again.
But as you get older and wiser, you realize that you can’t go through life being afraid to make mistakes. You realize that the greatest lessons don’t come from when things go well. You get the most vivid and lasting lessons when you totally screw the pooch.
And the more you learn, the more you realize that if some of the greatest men quit after their first failure, then nothing great would ever get created. People like Walt Disney, who was fired from a newspaper and was told he “lacked creativity,” and whose first animation company failed. Or Thomas Edison, who reportedly had over 1000 failed experiments…even though we know him as the man who invented the lightbulb.
Failure isn’t your cue to give up, it’s your cue to pick yourself up, figure out what you learned, and jump right back into the fight.
10. You Can Have a Conversation With Someone You Disagree With
Part of growing older and wiser is beginning to recognize that there are all kinds of people on this earth. People who have different backgrounds, different hopes and dreams than you, people who look differently and smell differently than you.
And most importantly, recognizing that there are very few right answers in this world. And just because someone has a different opinion than you doesn’t mean they aren’t worth listening to.
One of the true joys of becoming more mature is when you can sit down with someone you disagree with and have a fruitful conversation.
Maybe neither of you will end up budging from your positions at the end. And that’s fine.
But if you are brave enough and patient enough, you might just learn something if you keep your ears open. And that, ultimately, will make you a better man.
11. You Aren’t Precious About Your Possessions, But You Take Care of Them
Be honest, when you were a kid, you probably would have disowned your best friend if he scratched your BMX bike.
As you grow older and wiser, you realize that in the grand scheme of things, your physical possessions mean nothing compared to the truly precious things in life, like friendships, family, and life experiences.
At the same time, you also appreciate the value of what you own in a different way because you’ve bought it with you hard-earned money.
And you recognize that there’s a certain sacredness about caring for what you have. Sure, part of it is practical: You take care of your car and your house because you want to be able drive places and to be able to sleep somewhere nice.
More importantly, you take care of those things because that’s who you are—you are a man who takes care of the things around him. Even something as basic as taking better care of your clothes. If you’re investing in your wardrobe, it makes sense that you would try to take care of those clothes so they last
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