11 adult skills you can totally master in the New Year

Ever wished you knew exactly which wine to order or how to whip up a masterful dish in 20 minutes?
By Nadine Silverthorne
Woman drinking wine Photo, Masterfile

It's New Year's resolution time, also known as Failure O’Clock. Go ahead and conduct an informal poll of your colleagues, family and/or friends. How many of them have set a resolution and actually kept it? That’s what I thought.

Though we often abandon our resolutions after a few weeks, it seems that we humans are compelled to try and change something about ourselves each and every year. So this Dec.31, instead of saying, “This is the last day that I [insert],” I challenge you to embrace the following, life-enhancing list, guaranteed to make you a well-rounded adult.

1. Learn one stanza of poetry by heart. If you saw Maclean’s 60-second challenge with Justin Trudeau, you may have been surprised by a few of his answers. But for me, the key moment was when he was asked to recite the first line of poetry that came to mind. Trudeau launches into a soliloquy from Cyrano de Bergerac (completely en Français, mind you). That’s what kick-started this list. I thought, I don’t know if I’ll ever be famous enough for a 60-second challenge, but at 41 I should probably be able to recite a stanza of a favourite poem. W.H. Auden’s "As I Walked Out One Evening," you’re it.

2. Have a karaoke song. You do not want to be the girl who spends the whole night flipping through the song book. Nor do you want to pick a hit, get up there and then realize that you only knew the chorus. No, you should have a song and it should be a party song and not a ballad. No matter how good it sounds in the shower, no one ever brought the house down with Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.” Consider songs that everyone knows and loves like “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, or “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. Pick one, learn every ooh and ahh, and then go slay.

3. Figure out how to order wine. Shouldn’t choosing a wine at a restaurant be slightly more refined than “second down from the house wine”? I know I love Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon, but when do I choose those? I will learn this in 2016. Bonus: mastering this will be a lot of fun.


4. Memorize something sincere and concise that you can write on the Facebook walls of acquaintances when their loved ones die. This is a modern day conundrum. People we are friends with have other people in their lives pass away. They announce it publicly on social media. What does one say? You can’t really “like” a post announcing a death. Figure out what your general combination of comforting words are, so that this never has to stress you out again.

5. Learn how to budget and track your spending. I’m in my 40s and still don’t have a proper grasp of how to spend and save money. I have a thing for shoes and I’m generally bad at math. And I’m not alone. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015 the average Canadian household “had nearly $1.64 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.” Fortunately, Moneysense’s MoneyFit program starts in January so we can all go on that debt diet together.


6. Perfect a killer recipe for a meal or cocktail. Pick something and make it until you nail it. Then when friends pop by, just throw it together without looking at an iPad or cookbook. Because this is your jam, baby (or your pasta, or your Old Fashioned). You can get started here, with Mastering the Basics.

7. Finish something. A really challenging book. That half-knit scarf. The book you’ve been writing in your head. Give yourself a deadline. Set milestones and celebrate them. Hold yourself accountable on social media (it works!) by posting your progress and everyone will celebrate with you when you’re done.

8. Treat someone to dinner without making a big deal about it. And let someone treat you to dinner without making a fuss. There’s a time to go Dutch, but knowing how to give and receive (gifts, compliments, charity, opportunities, love) are essential to both mastering generosity and adulthood.


9. Know how to say sorry (and mean it). If apologizing were easy, it wouldn’t have spawned countless pop hits. After all that we’ve been through (like the 80s!), it’s hard for Peter Cetera to say he’s sorry. “Sorry seems to be the hardest word,” for Elton John. Bieber wonders, “Is it too late now to say sorry?” You’re an adult now. When you mess up, you own up. Find a way to make it right. And for the record, Biebs, it’s never too late to say sorry.

10. Have a story that you can tell in your sleep. Ever listen to The Moth podcast and stress yourself out thinking, “What story would I tell?” This is the year to answer that question. You need a story that defines you, but also entertains. It should be somewhat surprising, with maybe a tease in the beginning that leaves people wondering how you are going to get to the end. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, you will improve on it with every telling.

11. Be on time. I suck at this. I’m always hopeful that people have a cell phone to occupy them while they wait for me. I recently read something that said, “5 minutes early is on-time. On-time is late. Late is unacceptable.” Eep! My family actually lies to me about expected start times so that I show up on time. Growing up with an ethnic family, “Armenian Time” was always laughed about, so attitudes towards timeliness where casual at best. Yet I have a sister who is as prompt as a Swiss watch, so clearly I have some growing to do here. The stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve seems like a perfect place to start.

What did I forget? What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.


Subscribe to our newsletters for our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers.

By signing up, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.