A few weeks ago, I ran across an interesting article describing why Millennials are more stressed and less able to manage it than any other generation. From my own personal experience, and conversations I’ve had with friends, I totally agree.
Our generation is an anxious mess. Some of us are even going bald because of it.
And while there’s a lot of factors that contribute to our stress (work, financial debt, relationships, parenting, etc.), there’s a common theme I’ve seen in my own life and in the conversations I have with friends.
Are Millennials Putting Too Much Pressure on Themselves?
We expect to have our dream job by the time we’re 30 and get anxious if we haven’t found it yet. We look around at work and think we should be farther along in our careers, we should be leading people, or making more, or creating a bigger impact. We scroll through our social media feeds and wonder why our lives aren’t anything like the awesome experience our friends are having, or the perfect relationships they seem to present and wonder what’s wrong with us.
All of this creates an anxiousness that we better find our sweet spot now or we’ll be behind the curve for the rest of our lives.
Reject The Lie of the Quarter Life Crisis
This feeling that we’ve got to have it all figured out by the time we’re 30 or 35 at the latest creates an enormous burden. Some people call it the quarter-life crisis.
But the only way to overcome it is to recognize it for what it is: a lie.
Last year, I was meeting with an older entrepreneur, expressing my dissatisfaction with life and the anxiety I had around finding my sweet spot. As I was talking, he stopped me and asked, “Why are you putting the pressure on yourself to find your sweet spot by the time you’re 30?”
He went on to explain that he didn’t start his first business until he was in his late 30s, with two kids. And he said that he was honestly still figuring it out along the way. The next day, I ran across this tweet from Jon Acuff:
Both interactions were a reminder to me that I don’t need to put pressure on myself to “have it all together” in the next two to three years. The process of finding our sweet spot doesn’t have an expiration date.
How to Relieve the Pressure of the Quarter Life Crisis
So how do we fight these anxious feelings? While I’ve by no means “figured it out” here are a few things I’m learning:
- Be grateful for where you are. Jealousy and gratitude can’t co-exist. Rather than wishing we were farther along, or comparing ourselves to others; we can start by simply being grateful for where we are. None of us got to where we are today solely by ourselves. There were dozens of others who’ve helped us along the way. Thinking about the conditions people are age are living in around the world is enough to cause us to be thankful for where we are today.
- Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Being young also has its advantages. The older we get, the harder it becomes to make decisions that change the trajectory of our life. Rather than being afraid of making a significant change, we should embrace the season of life as an opportunity to do it. We must remember that there’s no such thing as failure… only learning.
- Realize there’s a long road ahead. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. We don’t have to find our sweet spot by the time we’re 35. We have our entire lives to grow into what we’re becoming. We should embrace the long-game approach, recognizing that we have decades ahead of us, and take each day at a time for what it is — one small step towards a lifelong journey.
So the next time you get discouraged because you don’t feel like you made it, remember, we don’t have to have it all figured out in the next five years. We’ve got a lot of life ahead of us. And personally, I want to make sure my hair stays with me for most of it.