Adulthood is turning on a podcast. The choice of the monotone voice of NPR over the melodies of Taylor Swift. Tuning into the affairs of the economy instead of dancing to your main character soundtrack. Listening to words of wisdom rather than singing along to those lyrics you know so well.
But there's more to podcasts—and adulthood in tow. There’s true crime, gossip columns, and the infamous personal favorite, self–help. After all, nothing helps you feel more like a put–together adult than walking to the street with your tote bag and listening to the tips for personal enlightenment. Who cares that you’re twenty minutes late to work?
Growing up is full of new challenges: from moving in on your own to deciding what to cook for dinner. While 30 minutes can’t solve your inevitable quarter–life crisis, these podcast episodes will offer you nuggets of advice for the toughest days.
"How to Spend Time on What You Value"—from How to Build a Happy Life
We’ve all been there. Up till 3 a.m. working on a project you couldn't care less about, just ready to submit and get it out of your system. But if you could, what would you spend that time on instead? Maybe you’d catch up on sleep or maybe you’d read that book that’s been collecting dust on your shelf. In a culture that constantly prioritizes business, it's easy to get caught up in the cycle of adding more and more to your Google Calendar until it begins to resemble a Tetris tower doomed to defeat. But Harvard Business professorAshley Whillans asks us to reconsider how we spend our time—and why we spend it. As we graduate and enter the real world, our weekends and evenings are ours to use as we choose. Without clubs or parties, how will we spend our time in the adult world?
"The Science of Quitting"—from A Slight Change of Plans
Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or Grey’s Anatomy, it’s hard to know when it’s the right time to walk away. Annie Duke, a former Penn Ph.D. student, has some insight. After leaving her Ph.D. program due to chronic burnout, Duke found her calling as a professional poker player. She shares her insights into knowing when to walk away. Perhaps this podcast can offer the answer to the most important question of adulthood—when do you throw out last week’s leftovers? In a literal and metaphorical sense, of course.
"Stay in Your Own Lane"—from Reinvented After 40
Though I’ve gotten used to the fact my mom will send me podcasts without context, I was still surprised when she sent me one with the very specific target audience of menopausal women. While I have yet to start my midlife crisis (I am hoping this is just a quarter–life crisis), I found plenty of wisdom for my own life in this podcast. The honest fact is this: Adulthood can be lonely. Whether you’re just starting out living on your own or moving in with roommates in New York, it's an entirely different social atmosphere than college. Part of learning to adapt is reassessing your relationship with yourself. After all, you’re the only person who can make you happy. And maybe Michael B. Jordan, but I checked and he’s pretty busy for the next few years.
"Conquering Failure in Your 20’s"—from The Psychology of your 20's
I'd been listening to The Psychology of your 20's since I was sixteen as a means of “prepping” for what I had been told would be the most important decade of my life. Sure, I was a neurotic teen, but I think universally, it’s easy to be anxious about setting yourself up for a “perfect” post–grad life. But after many trips and stumbles, I’ve found that no amount of self–help can cushion you from inevitable failure. That’s life. But if failure is inevitable, then the only thing we can do is prepare ourselves to be able to meet failure head–on. Understanding our new relationship with success and disappointment is the first step towards deconstructing the difference between our school environment and the real world. After all, in adulthood, failure means more than a 68 on a math test.
"Who Do You Want to Be?"—from Hidden Brain
When we had to draw our future careers for our kindergarten show and tell, I (much to the consternation of my mother) scribbled a huge question mark on my canvas. Fourteen years later, I am still living in question mark territory. Whether you’ve wanted to be a dentist since you were five or are still grappling with the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, this podcast takes a scientific approach to find your calling. Psychologist Ken Sheldon studies the science of decision–making and values in order to understand how people can find a path aligned with their happiest selves. Spoiler alert: you may have known the answer deep down all along.