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We all get older, but not everybody grows up. Being grown is more than just the age on your driver’s license or how much you body roll to Beyonce’s “Grown Woman.” Being grown is about transforming your mental, physical, financial and emotional state to the best that it can be for you and for the people around you.

So are you really grown?

Set SMART goals and work towards them

SMART goals –  specificmeasurableattainablerelevant and time-bound.

SMART goals are not just “I want a house.” A SMART goal is “I want a specific house and I need to do XYZ to get there, in this amount of time, for this purpose, and this is how I’ll track my progress.

Being grown is more than goal setting. It’s making SMART goals to ensure that you actually do get there and achieve all you want beyond just writing it on your vision board. Learn more about SMART goals here:

Get Your Finances in Order for the Long Term

Sure you can save up for a big birthday blow out or for that trip to the Poconos. But can you save up enough money that if you lost your job you would be okay? What age do you plan to retire? How much money do you need to survive comfortably? These are all questions you need to start asking at 21, not 41. It’s never too late to get started but saving for your financial future and investing for long-term payouts is a key factor in being grown. Grown people know that having enough money right now is great but having to never work again if you don’t want to later is the true goal. Make your money, make money for you! Find a good financial planner and get started.

Have a Real, Healthy Relationship

The slamming doors, hopeless romantic, whirl-wind love is cute and all but at some point you need to retire from the game-playing, the drama-loving, and the romantic shenanigans. Be a better gatekeeper over your heart and life and only allow in healthy, good love. Whether or not it works out long term is not the main concern. At some point, in your growth to grown, your chaotic crazy relationships need to be fewer and farther in between. That goes for friends and lovers!

Forgive People and Yourself

Anger, resentment, and bitterness towards yourself and others is a sign of immaturity. Some people hurt you so deeply you can’t even begin to breathe, but over time you need to forgive. Forgive other people so that you can move on. Forgive yourself so that you don’t hold yourself back any longer. The past is done and the best thing you can do is not let bitterness come with you into your grown-life.

Invest in Yourself

Take that class. Get that degree. Buy those bundles of hair wholesale to start your own business. Even if you have to stop eating out for lunch for 6 months and put that money into a cookie jar until you have enough to buy that web site, software, class, or training, do that! Never be afraid to invest in yourself for the long term benefit and improvement. That’s what grown people do! It’s more than investing in a nice outfit, it’s investing in something that will change your future!

Be On Your Own

If you can’t recall a time in your life where you weren’t being taken care of by someone else then you haven’t quite reached grown yet. We all need help sometimes and by all means don’t live on the street if you can still move back home. But move out when you can. Apply the same caution for relationship hoping from one caretaker to the next. Be on your own for some time period in your life so that you can build up that time to learn yourself and the confidence that no matter what, you can take care of you.

Let people and things go

Grown folks just don’t have time for that. Negative people, broken friendships, mistakes, hang-ups, jobs that suck that life out of you…no. Carrying dead weight with you from one stage of life to the next is a sign of immaturity and doubt in your own greatness. You have to know your worth better than to think you need to carry dead things with you everywhere you go. Let them go.

Take care of your body

If your leg has been aching for three weeks, why have you not seen a doctor? When was your last breast exam? Have you eaten a vegetable today? Diseases seem to be sneaking up on young people lately because we aren’t taking care of our bodies. Be grown and go be very honest with your doctor about what hurts, what doesn’t feel right, and stay on top of your vaccinations, annual exams, and STD/AIDS testing. Even without insurance, many clinics offer free annual physicals, exams or STD/AIDS testing. You can cover the basics at least and be proactive about your health instead of reactive.

Contribute to the World

A true grown-adult is also someone that is seeing the bigger picture and contributing to the world rather than taking from it all the time. Go out there and live, get all you can, and enjoy it! Just don’t forget there is so much to be done. Coach a team, write a letter to your local congressman, donate to a relief fund, serve a meal on Thanksgiving, or buy someone lunch one day. Grown means you are grown enough to help someone else too.

What about you? How do you know you are grown?

Dee Rene is the writer and creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss., a faith based blog where we can laugh, cry and cuss together. She is based in NYC. You can follow her or the blog on twitter @deerene_lcc @laughcrycuss or visit the site at

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