Ours is a culture that puts a high value on successful Millennials. We use words like emerging, budding, wunderkind, world changes, phenom, even ‘young genius.’
We are captivated by stories of individuals who start social movements or build a seven-figure business while they’re still in their 20’s. We applaud companies like Facebook, Warby Parker, and the millions of start-ups around the world that merge youthful innovation with aggressive business practices to become world-beaters seemingly overnight.
All of this can result in many of the Millennials thinking that we should be successful by now. This can be an incredibly dangerous way to think. Not only is it misconstrued; it can quickly be a slippery slope that can send us on a negative trajectory for the rest of our careers.
4 Things Millennials Should Pursue More than Success
Rather than the highest possible salary, notoriety, or fame, here are four things I believe we should pursue that can lead us toward more meaningful and sustainable success in the future:
1. Cultivating the Habit of Learning
Constantly being open to the idea of learning new things is a habit that lead to exponential growth in our personal lives and careers. We must cultivate the habit of continuing our education, even if in an unofficial sense.
Now is the time to learn all we can about as much as we can. Read books (here’s a great place to start if you’re looking for recommendations). Develop a habit of learning from mentors and older leaders. At best, you may uncover a hidden trait or special skill, at worst you will be a fantastic conversationalist.
2. Developing a Strong Work Ethic
I’ll never forget the day my dad walked into the house during lunch one day after I graduated college. I was still looking for a job but had spent most of that summer watching the World Cup. As I sat on the couch, he came in and reminded me that no one was going to hand me anything in this life. If I wanted to be successful, I had to earn it.
As Millennials, we must learn to put our hands to something, work hard at it, and weed out distractions. This is just one way we can set ourselves apart from our peers.
3. Leveraging the Advantages Being Young
Despite what you might think, there are a lot of benefits to being a Millennial. With fewer responsibilities that might keep us tied to our job later in life we have the opportunity to try new things.
Take risks. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Develop the habit of saving and wise spending. Be shrewd about networking and leveraging every advantage you have to get ahead.
4. Practicing Intentionality
It is easy to let days turn into weeks turn into months turn into years of just coasting. We must be intentional in every step of our young careers. Don’t take a new job just to get away from your current one if you know it’s not a step towards something you want to do long term. Even if you are unemployed, find something worthwhile and intentionally give yourself to it.
Wherever you are, use your time to learn as much as you can about yourself and how to interact with others. Be intentional.
When We Do These Things… Success Will Come
As my friend Paul says, “Success looks so sexy, until you’re slushing through the muck and mundane to make it happen.” The idea of an overnight success is a seductive lie. What we don’t see for people who seem like an overnight success is the countless hours pouring into bucket after bucket of water to fill up a well.
We must remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking the time to develop good habits early on will serve us well when we hit our stride later in the race.