This past week I was speaking at an event where the subject of Millennials being the most stressed out generation came up. This is a topic the media has fueled in the past. Last fall everyone from Fox News and Yahoo, to NBC News and The Huffington Post ran stories reacting to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association on stress levels in America. According to the report Millennials, defined here as American adults ages 18 to 34, reported higher stress levels than Traditionalist, Baby Boomers, and Generation X.
Of course it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why Millennials are stressed, recent reports are showing 1 in 2 recent college graduates are unemployed and 25% are living at home with Mom and Dad. Brutal.
And if graduating and not finding work, or at least the work we had envisioned, was not enough to squash your spirit, we're dealing with crushing student loan debt on top of it.
Obviously it's not the greatest situation in the world to start your career off but do we really have it that much harder than when other generations were starting off? Traditionalists had WWII. Boomers had 80 Million others competing for every single job and every single promotion. Xers enter the workforce under the shadow of a huge Boomer generation and a crappy economy as well.
So what makes it so much harder for us today?
I think the biggest difference for Millennials is that we've always had someone there to save us. We’ve been shielded and protected from the big bad world our entire lives. The safety net of our Baby Boomer parents has always been under us ensuring we don’t crack our heads.
However I’m starting to see a shift in attitudes from the Boomers I interview today. The reality is they’re starting to feel the pinch of supporting multiple generations while trying to save for their own retirement. Of course they want to help their children but they didn’t image we’d still be on the payroll at 26.
As a result were starting to see the training wheels come off and I think these stress stats are a reflection of that. But I also think it’s a reflection of a generation lacking in a certain characteristic we could greatly benefit from today, Grit.
The definition of Grit: Firmness of character; indomitable spirit.
Of course there are great characteristics of our generation but firmness of character and indomitable spirit, to date, has not been one of them. I think it’s time we change that.
Three things we need to do….
Change your mindset about being the victim. You’re not a victim. Is the situation ideal, hell no, but you are not a victim. We have access to more information and more tools to change our future then any generation ever. Use them.
Log off Facebook, stop watching Girls, and Do The Work. All those tools that are sitting at your fingertips, use them! Get busy. Get moving. Just start. Sitting around feeling stressed out about it won’t help. Motion creates positive emotion.
Open your eyes to the opportunities that no one else is seeing because they’re too busy complaining. I’ve observed thousand upon thousands of conversations happening online with young people complaining about the current situation we face. Money. Politics. The Economy. Etc. Don’t do it. Use that energy to look for the opportunities the new economy is presenting. They’re everywhere.
I personally believe this is the single greatest time in history to be alive and we have an opportunity as the next generation of leaders to right the ship and change the direction we’re headed. Not just as Americans but as global citizens. Isn’t that worth turning the Xbox off for? Will it take grit? Hell yes it will, but we’re talking about changing the world here. #Gameon