Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Five Unfortunate Signs You May Be Growing Up

“I guess this is growing up.” -Blink 182

Much to my chagrin, I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that I’m growing up. And yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. But…

Everyone needs to grow up.

It’s time to get over yourself. To stop asking the world what it can do for you and start asking what you can do to make a contribution to this big ball of dirt that we all share.

Maturity has nothing (or perhaps, very little) to do with age. I’ve met grown men (quite a few, actually) who act like adolescents.

No, maturity is more a product of experience coupled with character than it is an automatic “in” to the adult life once you turn a certain age.

So how do you tell a mature person from the rest of the bunch?

Better yet, how do you know when you are growing up?

Signs of Growing Up

At first, it may be hard to detect, but knowing a mature person from an immature person (regardless of age) is an important skill for anyone to have, especially a good leader.

Signs of Maturity

There are several signs of mature people.

As you look at the people with whom you’d like to change the world (whether it’s your friends, family, team or community), consider enlisting those who are real grown-ups.

Here are five things to look for (in others and in yourself):

1. Saying you’re sorry

Mature people don’t have to worry about always being right.

They’re comfortable with saying when they were wrong. They have the wisdom to know that no one is ever correct all the time.

They’re humble enough to say when this applies to themselves.

2. Taking the blame

Mature people take responsibility for when the ball is dropped or failure happens. They don’t pass the buck or try to sidestep responsibility.

They meet it head on, willing to accept the consequences of their actions.

3. Giving away credit

Mature people don’t need to get credit for their actions. If done for the right reasons, the acts themselves are the rewards.

Whether at work or on a team, they’re comfortable with giving away the credit for their fellow team members.

4. Willing to wait

Mature people are patient; they’re not fixated on instant gratification.

They’re willing to wait for some things; in fact, they realize that the best stuff in life takes time.

It’s not easy, but it’s good.

5. Giving up the right to be right

Even when they’re right, mature people are willing to waive that right for the sake of relationship.

They’re sure of themselves; they don’t need to win an argument to affirm their identity.

What about you?

As I read this list, I’m convicted. I’ve grown in all of these areas since I graduated from college, but I still have a lot of room to grow.

I tend think of myself as an “old soul,” but I need to grow in all of these areas. I guess I’m still growing up.

Here’s some fun additional reading: Nation Down to Last Hundred Grown-ups

What about you? What are other signs of growing up?

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

Ever Wonder If Your Blog Post Is Good Enough?

We built a free tool so you don’t have to worry about that ever again.

1. Pick your goal of the post
2. Answer 5 basic questions
3. It tells you if it’s good enough and how to make it better

Click here to use the tool.

  • Love it. Great post Jeff.

  • Shawn Leberknight

    I struggle with #5 a lot. I find myself arguing to be right all the time. Definitely something I need to work on.

    I also think another sign of growing up is not being able to sleep in on the weekends because your internal clock is used to getting you up before the sun. I hate that!

  • Hey Jeff,

    1. I think I’m pretty good at these things, except for #5 – I really need to work on that one.

    2. That does NOT make me a grown-up. Take it back! 😀

  • Willing to wait, I like that. It always annoys me when people push in front because it is an immature act.

    Have a good day Jeff!

    • Thanks, Stuart. I’m 28, and as I look back on who I was when I was 21, this is one of the starkest contrasts. I’ve had to learn how to wait for some things.

  • Reading through the list, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have so very much growing up left to do. 

  • Solid list here, Jeff. Saying sorry, not as a form of weakness but as a way of taking responsibility, is such a huge one!

    I might also add “dealing with whatever life and the world put in front of you with grace and gratitude”, as well as “resisting the temptation to play the victim or feel sorry for yourself”.

    A good wake-up call!



  • Another sign of growing up for me has been not always doing the things I want to do and replacing them with the things that I have to do. 

  • I think one that goes hand in hand with “willing to wait”  is…

    Embracing struggle.

    As I grow older, I realize that struggle and pain are part of the maturation process. There just cannot be new life apart from pain. Hence the term, “growing pains!”

    Keep up the great work Jeff! Your commitment to your craft inspires me!

  • I’m not mature. 

    I have an utter lack of #4. 


  • Being able to see things from another person’s perspective would make my list. This probably fits into the “not needing to be right” and “saying you’re sorry.” category. I have found this list to be true in my own life. I saw a turning point when a friend came to confront me on something and I started out by deflecting it and justifying it. Then I gave up because it was too exhausting. I realized she was right.

    That was when I grew up. Now I am finished. Hooray!

    • Well I dunno about being “finished”… 😉

      • What? You think there might be MORE to learn?! Ugh.

        • Maybe not for me, but definitely for you. 😉

  • I work with teens in our church.  Signs of maturity I see in some of them, as well as adults, would also include taking responsibility for their actions and prioritizing the big things in their life over the “want to” things in their life.

    When I see our teens giving out of scarcity to help others in need, it shows that some of our teens are more mature than a lot of older people.  I’m amazed at the response of 14-15 year olds to the tragic tornado that hit Joplin, not too far from our town this week.  The kind of response I’ve seen here shows tremendous maturity, in my opinion.

    • Love that, Jeff – sacrifice is a great trait of mature people.

  • Jeff, write us a post on the converse: “Good things about refusing to grow up”. I always refer to Robert Frost’s “Birches” for inspiration.

  • Hi Jeff,
    I’m down with all of that as long as I can still play video games.

  • Love your Blink-182 reference!

    Another sign of growing up: think of others more often than I think of myself. 

    It’s not easy or even desirable, but I’ve noticed that when I do this, it makes a lot of my “problems” melt away.

  • Mmmmm, signs of growing up… does gray hair count?? 😉
    Being content with whatever and wherever the Lord places me. And realizing that we never arrive but should always strive.

  • Marissa June Goins

    you’re not an old soul, you’re just old. can you believe you’ve been out of high school 10 years?!?!

  • Gabriella – the stepford wife

    Oh, this post is just amazing! So many of us ‘adults’ lack the maturity that some teenagers have. Reverse of roles maybe? But, life back then is not as it is now, but it does ponder the question: why do people act that way?
    “Willing to wait” – probably one of the hardest things to learn to do just like saying that you are sorry. Some never even learn either of the two let alone the five points you have mentioned.

  • yeah, the instant gratification thing. i don’t even like to order something off of amazon. i would rather just go BUY it.  i am horrible at giving gifts. well, i’m GREAT at it, but horrible at waiting to give it to the person!

    i would put confidence somewhere on the list. confidence in yourself, your beliefs, your choices. and the ability to know yourself well enough to HAVE the confidence.

  • shannon lewis

    Bizarre – I hadn’t read your blog, and I don’t believe you’d read mine, but we posted very similar things around the same time: https://saintlewismusic.com/blog/theology/time-to-grow-up-on-idealism-and-maturity/2011/05/12/time-to-grow-up-on-idealism-and-maturity

  • And I always thought they were: wearing a watch, having a life insurance policy, using a set of Only-At-Christmas dishes, shopping from a catalog (the kind that still comes in the mail)  and keeping a Day-Timer . . . thanks for setting me straight!  🙂

    Actually, BRILLIANT post!  And I love that four of the five are rooted in ‘humility’.  

    • Me, too! 😉

      Thanks for commenting, Deb.

  • Another great article but you lost me by using “your” instead of “you’re” in number one. It’s a big pet peeve of mine. 

    I agree with all the ‘Signs’, but have a problem with number three. I usually like to stay in the background, I do what I do because it gives me some form of internal satisfaction. What I’ve found however is that some people use it as an opportunity to take advantage. That’s the struggle I’m faced with, giving away credit is all well and good but what happens when others abuse it.

    • that’s embarrassing. just fixed. nice catch! thanks.

  • Cuso

    I must be really old and mature as a person…cause I have been doing these things since I was 19 years old///what does that make me???lol, aside from my head full of grey hair at 42