This day and age is for those who choose to seek for themselves and find happiness in their career. This is in stark contrast to our grandparents’ generation. Previous generations were pigeon-holed into specific roles; you either followed your parents’ footsteps in their careers, or you followed the path your high school advisor laid out for you.
Today, the possibilities are endless. Colleges have caught on to the flexibility of job roles and have begun allowing for customized degrees that combine previously unheard of majors like technology and science, or business and art. Credits are given for life and work experiences in order to fulfill previously strict prerequisites.
The job environment is changing. Many companies have reformatted strict corporate hierarchies and job descriptions for more fluid structures that call upon people’s job skills and experience, versus their education and title. Job descriptions like Business Solution Architects, Social Media Guru, and Manufacturing Integration Engineer are now gracing business cards. Utilizing staff talent, coaching, mentoring, and investing in human capital have taken the place of driving the bottom line at the cost of the employee. Invention, intuition, and ingenuity have creeped into corporate goals instead of hard-fast metrics and inflexible business plans.
The environment for managing people has changed as well. The days of slaving away in a gray uninviting cubicle and putting in long hours to the boring beat of a pencil scratching are dying away. Many companies have fully stocked kitchens, lounges, standing desks, yoga balls and even scooters to get around. Office décor is selected to provide peaceful, inviting atmospheres that encourage creative-thinking. More and more staff are encouraged to work from home when needed, and to seek a work life balance.
Yet, there are many millennials who sit at their desk, do their work, and don’t realize they have a tremendous opportunity in front of them that no other generation has had before. They have the freedom to define their own job and direct its path at a much earlier stage in the career lifecycle. Leadership, innovation, creativity are far more likely to be embraced and rewarded today regardless of age or position.
How to begin? Start by finding your passion. What do you like to do at your job? What have you seen others do that you want to get involved in? Find ways to participate in what you enjoy by contributing to a project, volunteering to own a task, or presenting new ideas on how to make positive change utilizing your unique skills. Communicate frequently to management, and choose a mentor or subject matter expert who can help you hone your skills to do what you love. Yes, it will be hard work, but you will love every minute of it.
In today’s world, look less at your position and more at the company you work for. Are there roles you would like to fill? Is there work being done that you could be passionate about? It may not be a part of your current role, but it can become a part of where you are headed. If the company you work for doesn’t present any challenges you are excited to face, then it may be time to start looking for a company that can inspire you.
Life is too short to work in a job you don’t enjoy or for a company that promises little potential. Seek your passion; the type of work that gets the cogs in your head turning and makes you excited to conquer your day. Today is for you.
There is no doubt pressure exists in our ever growing capitalistic society. Although most can relate to the pressures of the society, it is our young generation, the Millennials who are feeling it the most. Student loan debts are rising and the competition for the jobs are getting tougher and tougher for the Millennials. The reality of financial insecurity can be stressful but is there something deeper we are not seeing that is attributing to the stress? Are we attaching something that makes us feel good about ourselves within external success? Amongst the constant noise of advertising and media, social media has emerged as an essential part of our lives. Social media plugs us into a world that is constantly letting us know what our friends or people around us are doing. This technology also gives us an opportunity to compare ourselves to others constantly. In a highly competitive climate for the upcoming generations, expectations are rising and with it comes a shaky and anxious ride to fulfill the basics of self-esteem and worth.
The author and philosopher, Alain de Botton articulated this epidemic as status anxiety where one’s self-esteem is rooted by the perceptions of others, whether we’re judged by success or failure. Status anxiety is the idea of how we tend to attribute a higher value to people who are deemed successful (type of job, money, fame) and do the opposite to people seen as a failure. That is why we might cringe or look forward to hearing the question of “What do you do?” when we first meet someone. One of the ideas explored in de Botton’s work is the idea of a meritocracy and how we associate someone’s high or low value based on the implicit assumptions of a meritocracy. From the beginning, we are all told that we can be successful and that we can be whatever we want to be. At least that is the implication of a meritocracy, that wherever someone ends up is based on merit. This implicitly means that if we get to the top or end up at the bottom, we ourselves are responsible. But is that always the case? The revered 20th century political philosopher, John Rawls came up a thought experiment to show how our own societies could be unfair. He said to imagine ourselves in a conscious state before we are born but without knowing what circumstances we are going to be born into: the veil of ignorance. The vulnerability of not knowing what circumstances of intelligence, type of parents, social, economic condition, or area we will be born into can allow us to see how risky it is to be randomly born into many undesirable circumstances. This technique exposes the injustices of our society, the ignorance of the way we see our society, as well as create a vision of what kind of society we would want to live in. The possible variables attributed of what society deems as success or failure might not always be deserving or undeserving. De Botton points out that even though as flawed as the old aristocratic societies were, you at least knew the unfairness transparently if wherever you are born into. Considering De Botton’s investigation of the meritocracy structure and applying Rawl’s thought experiment we might see how that our own judgments of ourselves or others might be made on unfair assumptions. The reality is that there is many variables involved that might be with or without our control that might attribute to our successes or failures, and even though we strive to be that, perhaps our society cannot be totally meritocratic.
In a 2012 study, Millennials’ top sources of stress were work (cited by 76%), money (73%) and relationships (59%), the economy came in fifth, at 55%, just behind family responsibilities, cited by 56%. The survey found that 19% of Millennials have been told they have depression, compared with 14% of Generation Xers (ages 34-47); 12% of Baby Boomers (ages 48-66) and 11% of those ages 67 and older. And more Millennials than other generations have been told they have an anxiety disorder: 12% of the youngest, compared with 8% of Gen X, 7% of Boomers and 4% of the oldest. So you could be saying so what? This time period in life can be a difficult one with economic instability and the growing pains of adulthood, Yet, it might be fair to speculate the possible side effects of being born amongst the constant technological stimuli, social networking, and expectations to succeed in a world that tells you where you end reflects your total character. It is still a new phenomenon to be able to control a digital platform or profile in which we can be seen by the world. We release the parts of ourselves we choose to share and obtain information about our friends or people around us in the same way. These platforms provide great potential of enhancing our need for the approval of others or comparing ourselves to others. A 2013 study demonstrated the pressure that Millennials admit to keep up with the financial habits and lifestyles with their friends. Reporting that 61% need money from their parents to keep up, 64% of Millennials strive to stay on par with their friends with fashion and clothing, and nearly two-thirds experience pressure to keep up with the types of places they eat and the gadgets they carry.
Acknowledging the possibility that our standing in society or life might involve more random and uncontrollable factors can alleviate our need to judge others and feel a little less anxious, but is that enough? A start might to redefine what we call success and focus on what has made people are the end of their lives grateful. What is it that at the end of the day is important? The link between money and happiness is a real one but money has a limit.