Sure, there’s a lot of hype about finally finding the one, but the worst thing you can do is rush through all those independent years that come before it. Here, 24 things to cross off your pre-marriage “bucket list,” so to speak.

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1. You should live alone, even if it’s only for a few months—or a few years.

2. And sleep with someone who’d never earn your parents’ approval. (Hey, a hook-up at a wedding with your college friends totally counts.)

3. You should build up your emergency savings. Not as exciting #2, but probably more important.

4. And splurge on an investment piece you’ll always remember you bought yourself. (Like a gorgeous handbag—or a new car.)

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5. You should learn how to poach an egg.

6. And how to whip up a few recipes that aren’t Lean Cuisines. And no, not for cliché “women in the kitchen” reasons, but because you should be able to feed yourself some great food.

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7. You should learn how to confidently and calmly stick up for yourself…even if it’s only an overcooked steak that you ordered rare.

8. And how to do your laundry…without sending it out or dropping it off. 

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9. You should travel alone, even if it’s just a short commuter flight from Boston to Cincinnati.

10. And face down one of your fears—like flying alone on a short commuter flight from Boston to Cincinnati.

11. You should pursue a new hobby. (Photography! Singing! Birding!) 

12. And zero in on the career of your dreams. (As anyone who’s watched Pretty Woman 16 times knows: You gotta have a goal—do you have a goal?)

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13. You should know where you stand on having kids.

14. And have a strategy for keeping up with the news and current events.

15. You should know how to say no when life is too busy/you’re feeling overwhelmed/you just don’t feel like it…

16. …but also how to say yes. (Seriously, you never know how your life might change if you drop by your quirky barista’s housewarming party.)

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17. You should cherish your friendships. (Never planned a friendiversary? The time to make it a tradition is now.)

18. But also figure out how to enjoy your own company. (A good book + nowhere to be = the best.)

19. You should prioritize spending time with your parents…

20. …And practice soaking up at least some of their advice.

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21. You should finally identify your favorite type of wine. (Cab Sauv? Us, too.)

22. And know how to order your signature drink at the bar.

23. You should have an outfit/pair of heels/lipstick shade that makes you feel like a million bucks.

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24. And have a clear grasp on your priorities. (Hello, watching The Bachelor with your bestie beats boys every time.)

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