Living in the DC metro area these last several weeks has been very interesting. The government employs many of the citizens here, as well as numerous sub-contractors. When the October 1 announcement on the furlough hit, most of my federal clients thought it was only going to be for a few days. But every day I was getting emails that they had to cancel their meetings with me. It sure freed up my schedule, and it turned out to be the slow-down I needed to ramp up my business development efforts on the private sector side. And am I glad I did that! I closed two very nice pieces of business last week, and was able to focus on developing new programs and researching best-practices and the latest buzz about Millennials.
The HuffPost College article on Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy, introducing me to "GYPSYs" (Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies) that went viral was particularly intriguing to me. And apparently to others as well. Many bloggers resonated with Gen Y Lucy and her story about being wildly ambitious, only to land in a world full of unrealistic opportunities to fulfill their personal dreams. (I was also corrected that Gen Y and Millennials are not synonymous as I had been lead to believe in my research. Millennials are now 15-24 years old and Gen Y are 25-33-ish. I need to rethink on this one, and am open to this new distinction.)
They write about a simple formula: Happiness= Reality – Expectations. Makes sense to me. When our life is better than we hoped for, we are happy. If reality is a big disappointment compared to the vision you have for yourself, then you are unhappy. So what can we do to level-set expectations? To reinvigorate the Millennials so they come into their own with some optimism and realism?
I learned another acronym as well FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. Another phenomenon the Millennials are experiencing. The "I want it and I want it now" mindset, that I also had. The HuffPost article blasts a reality of three tips:
- Stay wildly ambitious.
- Stop thinking you're special.
- Ignore everyone else.
The more and more I read and learn about the Millennial condition, the more and more it sounds like my experience in 1985-1991. The first few years of my career I was finding my way, I hadn't found my calling. I wasn't excited, I struggled financially, I bartended at night to pay for the extra things I wanted and dreamed for myself. BUT, there were not all the extra-curricular activites available to me like there are today. Millennials tell me all the time, they want a blended life. They will work hard until their work is done, but then they want to take a nap in the afternoon like they did in college. Get out at 5 pm so they can work out and go serve in the soup kitchen. Then socialize with their friends, or play on the internet and social networking sites at night.
I also learned about Facebook Image Crafting. I was not aware that I was probably doing this too. This described that the very public postings we put out there paint a picture that may be over inflated. That the people posting about their careers must be doing really well, leaving others feeling that they must be deficient in some way. Well, this all left me feeling a little bad for Lucy, and her friends. And if I look back I was not all that satisfied with my life then either. It does get better. And the more open I was to mentoring, networking and stretching out of my comfort zone, the easier it got.
Here are some nuggets I offer as a result:
- No one expects the Millennials to have all the answers. It's OK to ask questions.
- Go meet someone new at work every day. It's still who you know, not what you know, that separates you from the bunch.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Image and first impression management is still alive and well.
- Find a leader you admire, that seems to have the same values you have and is well thought of in the organization. Tell them you admire them; ask them a lot of questions about their career journey. Ask them to be a mentor.