Every generation has its own unique issues. Today’s Millennials are no different. The Millennials comprise young people born between 1977 and 1994. They are the children of my parenting generation, children born to baby boomer “Me” generation parents.
I grew up at a time when prosperity was seen as never-ending, especially after the deprivations of the two great wars. There were plenty of jobs, and the cost of living was such that almost anyone could own a house. Mine was the generation that everyone, it seemed, tried to woo; we were always the centre of attention. Our parents saw us as wild, untamed and spoiled.
I can say from personal experience that our focus on “Me” came from what we saw our parents go through – most mothers being forced to stay at home, everyone living a life that conformed to pretty strict rules. All we wanted to do was to break free of those constrictions. And so when our children came along, we taught them that they could be anything they wanted to be, and do anything they wanted to do.
Simon Sinek sums up the problems this has caused the Millennials in a recent interview he gave on Millennials in the workplace (see below for that interview). He directly addressed the main complaint we hear about this group of young people – that they feel and act entitled.
It’s true. Millennials do often present in this way. And there’s a good reason for it – because we taught them to. We taught them to believe that they were special, and never had to settle for anything less than exceptional. So when they entered the real world they expected to immediately find a job that they could star in, for a wage that would provide for them the way their parents had.
And this has created an issue that is seriously affecting young people: shattered self-esteem.
As Sinek points out, our failed parenting strategies did not prepare our children for reality, and as a result, they have no idea of what to do when they discover that they aren’t special, and that they can’t have everything they want.
The result is an entire group of young people who have lower self-esteem than any previous generation, higher suicide rates, increased stress, and no coping skills to deal with it.
Most Millennials grew up not having to learn to develop real relationships, able instead to gain instant gratification from technical and virtual reality. This is born out by the ever-present smart phone – at dinner, in classrooms, even at meetings – it’s the cell phone that is prominent, not conversation. Young people don’t know what to do when they encounter their first brick wall – and so they turn to whatever they can find online, from “experts” who are only one step ahead of them, if that.
Every generation has it’s unique challenges, and for the Millennials, according to Sinek, it’s learning to replace instant gratification with genuine relationship development, which is often messy and takes a long time. To do this, he recommends that they:
- Put away the cell phones, at lest for part of every day, relying instead on the sometimes uncomfortable face-to-face encounters. Deliberately engage in small talk with strangers and friends, even if it seems boring or pointless – it’s the way humans begin to build relationships and is the essential first step.
- Do not charge your phones by the bed. Buy an alarm clock instead, if you need one. Begin to learn to live without being always at the beck and call of technological gratification.
- Be consistently be available for friends, even when something more exciting comes up. Real friendships are built on this kind of mundane, every-day consistency.
- Let your mind wander. Learn to tolerate boredom by developing patience. It’s when our minds wander that ideas happen.
- Get help from real people. The online “expert” is rarely going to be able to provide the help you need, especially with issues involving continued stress, depression and anxiety. These are issues that don’t have a fast answer.
It is possible to pick up critical life skills, even if you didn’t learn them earlier. And when you do, you can relax and really start to enjoy your life.
Millennials in the Workplace
Quote of the Week
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. – Maya Angelou
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org