WHY THIS GEN XER LOVES GEN Y
I work with Millennials for several reasons. The first being the age and stage Millennials are in right now. Most Millennials right now are in their 20s and early 30s which is the best time to discover yourself and make the changes you need in order to create the life you want.
The teenage years are about “breaking away” from your parents and making decisions on your own. As a teenager you are still under your parent’s care and therefore many of the decisions and choices you make during this time are being watched and at times, controlled, by your parents.
By the time you reach your 20s, you no longer want to roll your eyes at everything your parents say or do. You may have been out of the house for several years already and have juggled the responsibilities of school and/or work and caring for you. It is not until you get out on your own that you really understand how much stuff your parents actually did for you. You had no idea how much time and effort it took to make sure that there was always food in the house, your clothes were clean and you had all the things you needed for school.
I believe the 20s are a special time in your life because this is the first time you are truly on your own. You are making choices and decisions about your life on your own. It is during your 20s that you are able to move around a lot and check out new cities, try out different kinds of jobs and possible careers, date many different kinds of people to determine the kind of partner you may want to make a commitment to. Your 20s are a time for exploration and fun. Most twentysomethings have little responsibilities outside of themselves and therefore they are able to fully focus on themselves.
The second reason I enjoy working with Millennials is that I believe they are a very unique group of individuals. Many things have been written about Millennials and I believe they are a very misunderstood generation.
According to research, Millennials are the most technologically savvy generation we have ever had. They are true “digital natives” and very comfortable using technology and social media personally and professionally. Since they have grown up in this social media world, they see themselves in a very different way and what they value is different than the rest of us.
I know many people believe that Millennial’s use of social media excessively. It has been said that this generation only cares about themselves and that the constant Facebook updating, selfie taking and 140 characters of chatter have turned our young people into one very self-absorbed group.
As a Generation Xer, I certainly have my opinions about social media. Yet as a business person social media plays a huge part of marketing and generating interest in your business. I have been reluctant to join the world of social media for various reasons, the biggest reason being fear of judgment. The fear of putting out an article or a tweet into the social media world and being instantly shamed and judged. On an intellectual level I know that any comments I get are not to be taken to heart and that I need to accept criticism. On an emotional level the awkward teenager in me gets anxious about putting myself out to be laughed at or possibly scorned. I have a lot of admiration for anyone who is able to regularly put him or herself out there for judgment. You can see this generation as self-involved; I see them as brave risk takers.
Millennials are also said to be the most socially conscious generation. Millennials make their purchase decisions based not only on the product but on what the company represents and what types of causes the company supports. Millennials think about the world as a whole much more than any other generation.
According to Chip Espinoza, Mick Ukleja and Craig Rusch in their book “Managing the Millennials,” “Millennials want to know why before what. They ask why as a means of placing value on the activity. The why is not defiance but a fishing expedition? The objective in the mind of the direct report was to ascertain what role she was playing in the grand scheme of things.” While it may drive their managers and superiors crazy, Millennials need to know “why.” Millennials have strong opinions and they want to be heard and they are not afraid to ask for what they need, especially in the workplace.
Millennials want work-life balance. I don’t think I ever used the term “work-life balance” in my 20s. I didn’t think I deserved to have a “life” if I wanted to have a career. Millennials are more realistic about what is possible and are not afraid to ask for what they need from friends, family and employers.
There are many things about life and work that Millennials need to learn. My goal as a therapist and coach is to help these individuals figure out who they are in this world, define their beliefs and values, improve how they see themselves and find the time to “unplug” and connect with others in a different way. It is important that Millennials can effectively communicate with their Gen Xers and Boomers managers. No matter what generation you are in, you need to be able to navigate the world in a way where you can be heard in a respectful manner. My hope is to help Millennials better understand their interpersonal relationships and let go of any relationships that do not move them forward in their goals. We all need help to determine our gifts and use them in healthy ways.