Oh, the millenials. The generation we all love to hate even if we’re a part of it. Famous for their lack of drive, low boredom threshold, and need for constant reaffirmations, it’s easy to overlook the benefits of their selfie-take on life, but underneath the tattoos, and random hair colors lie gems of wisdom..
The thing is, this lost generation is constantly surprising people. They’re pushing out more entrepreneurs and small business owners than the people before them, they’re buying homes like crazy and reinvigorating the housing market (even though everyone said they were flaky, travelers and would never settle down), and they’re surprisingly loyal to a company once they find one that fits their values.
While it’s unclear what the next ten years will look like for millenials, there are a few quirks that will come in handy for anyone wanting to find more happiness and fun in their lives and in their careers.
1. Don’t be miserable in a soul-sucking job
Call it flaky, call it bad work-ethic or call it the arch nemesis of the 401K, but millenials are leaving jobs that don’t give them some kind of satisfaction. Even though their parents held jobs on average 15-30 years, millenials were not sold on the idea, (probably because they were the same kids who watched their moms and dads get laid off during the recession after all that time sacrificed in a job they didn’t even like).This led to the “Job Hopping” mentality that drives employers nuts, but is actually helping millenials move more quickly into rewarding careers.
If you’re clocking in and checking out for 8 hours a day, start looking for something that will give your life meaning. Even if it pays less or is entry level, it’s better to wake up with hope than know your not using your skills or passions to their fullest. Your employers aren’t responsible for your happiness so don’t be afraid to go out and make it yourself.
2. Make travel a priority
Where is the money coming from? With the ocean of debt from student loans, most millenials aren’t racking up anymore on credit cards (they probably couldn’t get a decent credit line anyway). What they’re doing is saving, taking on second jobs, hosting foreign exchange students or running AirBnB’s… anything for the chance to break up the monotony and see the world.
Do you want to go to Europe? Than do it. While it may be harder with a family, it’s not impossible. Make it a priority and you will find a way. You could be that person sparking envy on Facebook with your most recent trip to Prague. Even if it takes 3 years to get there, it’s worth it. It’s definitely worth it.
3. Treat your SO like your best friend – relationships should be FUN
Nothing kills a relationship like becoming your parents. That holds true whether your 26 or 62. One of the last things any millenial wants in their relationship is to have to “work at it”. Their parents worked at it (60 percent still failed), their grandparents worked at it (stayed together, but sometimes questionably). For many young people, it doesn’t make sense to keep repeating the same tired technique.
Which leads to most millenials opting out of the wedding ring. This generation has the lowest marriage rate for people under 30 in history. The interesting thing is, they love long term relationships. They’r not allergic to commitment but they do have an aversion to binding themselves and making it serious. Nothing takes the spontaneity and fun out of your love life like obligation, old-world burdens, and “working at it”.
Whether you’re married or not, treat your partner like your your best friend. Poke fun at them, give them compliments, tell them your secrets and insecurities, get drunk and play truth-or-dare. The hard-work and the struggle should be for the world outside. When you’re with the person you love, make it fun and don’t take things so seriously.
4. Wear many hats
One of the effects of the recession was the huge downsizing many industries went through. Even though the economy has improved, many companies still choose to have people doing multiple jobs that require a wide range of skills. To prepare for this job market, many millenials started working towards variety rather than expertise. While this has it’s own downsides, what that’s led to is less monotony and the freedom to move around departments, industries, and jobs.
If there’s something you’re interested in learning, go for it. I know someone who’s a marine biologist and wedding photographer. 20 years ago, one would have to be a hobby because they’d almost never cross paths in a job, but since many science expeditions can no longer afford someone just to take pictures, a science candidate that is also a professional photographer starts looking pretty good.
5. Don’t be afraid to work towards happiness
Everything might fall apart tomorrow. The economy might stumble back into a recession, we may go into another war that takes away people we love, or lose our homes because some freak weather phenomenon, which the insurance companies might not cover the cost.
These are all things that millenials grew up with, watching, learning. For all their bad habits and weaknesses, something very fundamental had been ingrained in them…Happiness is the only thing worth fighting for and the only thing that can’t be taken away. Yes, it might be fleeting but unlike most things, you can always get it back.
So get out there, quit your job, go see what a cocktail taste like in Finland, listen to loud music, take selfies (like a ridiculous amount of selfies), and play hide and seek with your lover. It’s all worth it. It’s all fun. And it’s all available for you, right now.