In recent years, the millennial generation has taken center stage as the dominant demographic in our labor force and consumer base. This increased prominence has not been without its growing pains. Older generations seem to alternately lament and relish poking fun at various aspects of millennial behavior: their obsession with social media and status, the urge for instant gratification, and fear of missing out, to name a few.
Yet millennials have evolved out of necessity. They grew up having to survive some of the worst economic times in recent memory, while constantly adapting to technology-driven change at breakneck speed. From this viewpoint, millennials are survivors – and there may be valuable lessons we can gain from examining their lifestyles and the underlying factors.
Build the life you want now
Older generations embraced the dream of grinding away to buy property and retire in comfort. They may raise an eyebrow at the millennials who spend on travel rather than saving up for a home. Yet there’s a reason why co-living communities and boat dealers are on the rise. Alternative housing arrangements are necessary because the cost of living today is simply out of proportion to the average income of many young workers. And after living through an economic crisis or two, you realize that nothing is certain. Why toil for decades in exchange for uncertain future rewards, when you can work while also enjoying life? Be realistic instead of conforming to old notions of success. It’s alright to rent or live with your parents if this means you can gradually gain financial independence while also rewarding yourself on occasion.
Education must work for you
While Gen Z is shaping up to be even better in terms of education, as of now, millennials are the most educated demographic in the labor force. The flip side of this observation is that millennials also struggle with the burden of huge student debt. We’ve already seen how this generation has had to deal with economic downturns. On top of that, they are natives of the digital age; they know that you can learn almost anything on the internet. The fact that millennials nonetheless prize their education tells us one thing: it must be worth the expense. Quality education must be relevant. It has to provide you with skills and knowledge that will give you a unique edge in your chosen career, help you grow into a better person, and align fully with your values.
Embrace change and diversity
Most millennials spent few to none of their childhood years in the absence of computers and the internet. They are familiar with the blistering pace of change in this realm. Even as a kid, you’d never want to be left out when it comes to the latest trends. Young people today may be constantly abuzz with the newest craze – yesterday’s Twitter is today’s TikTok, for instance. Underneath, however, is the principle of being adept at embracing change, processing information, and accepting diversity. All of these are things which drive innovation and creativity while avoiding the pitfalls of groupthink. Apply this principle, and you bring those benefits into your personal life and any organization you work for.
Millennials may be oft-derided for superficial characteristics. But if you take time to analyze what lies beneath and drives the millennial lifestyle, you can learn from these insights and thrive in the emerging new world.