Hi. My name is Connor and I am a recovering Millennial.
A Millennial is defined as someone who was born between 1982 and 2004. I fit exactly in the middle of this group having been born in 1993 and so I have been surrounded by my millennial peer group for most of my life. One benefit of being in this group is that membership alone makes me a hot topic and the slate it “mostly” clean for this generation.
As a hot topic Millennial, my peers and I have been extensively tested and inspected through the lens of computers and the rise of smart devices. There are metrics and studies a plenty to describe the “mentality” of the Millennial horde and like most buckets, the people within it only partially fit into the findings.
Some of the findings on Millennials include:
- We want to impact the world
- Impatience is our virtue
- We have a decent grasp on social technology
- There is a greater social conscience
- We don’t like to keep jobs for life
- We want to feel important
- We think we are special
I have been born into a time of great opportunity and awareness as a Millennial. From the comfort of my bed, I can read the world news, write an essay, creep on people’s lives, and do my grocery shopping. I can pour through different types of careers and learn all sorts of cool skills through online MOOGs and the all-knowing Google.
Now, growing up, I was told and I do believe that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to which is awesome. I then got to spend my life learning about sciences and mathematics and video games and music with the voice in my mind echoing that I can be anything. The world is an amazing place when think you are special and impactful but it doesn’t come without drawbacks.
When I first started working on my career, I was quite frustrated. I wanted to make an impact on the world and I knew that <insert job here> wasn’t allowing me to impact enough. As a result, I moved from job to job ending each one with a certain amount of frustration in my life. I didn’t feel like I had championed life’s challenges which lead me to feeling more incompetent than special.
As I cycled through these frustrations, I ended up having heated discussions with my wife about my inner yearnings. I have been achievement focused my whole life, and as a 22 year old I was literally trying to recreate the life that my family had growing up. I was so focused on where I wanted to be that I didn’t take time to notice what got my own family to a place of comfort and well being.
As we talked through things my wife stated something that made me think a lot. She said I need to be living the life of a 22 year old today rather than focusing on how I haven’t met the success of a 42 year old. She also said she wasn’t ready to be married to a 40 year old man and needed me to be present in my twenties. Her wisdom in that discussion was hard for me to chew on then, but I did work on it.
Fast forward a little bit, I have finally worked somewhere for more than a year and it feels great. I can look back on the impact I had and I can see the growth that came from planting my feet in one place long enough to establish real roots. I can see my journey I took from being a green horn to a true leader in my field. Most importantly, I can see that being frustrated about not being impactful wasn’t helpful towards achieving this state.
Recently, I began working with a good friend from high school on learning how to program. He has taken a genuine interest in programming and wants to develop himself to have a successful career to support a future family. As we started going through the paces, he complained about the frustration of starting something out. He also mentioned he wanted to be a master as soon as possible which reminded me of something my dad once read.
Once upon a time, there was a study done on different gurus from different fields. One of the outcomes of this study was an average of how many hours it took each of the gurus to become a master of their skills. The average turned out to be 10,000 hours which translates to roughly 1,250 work days or 3.5 years. That’s not a small bit of time.
As I shared this information with my Millennial friend, I looked back on my journey and was able to see how the hours I spent added up. All though I am far from being a true master of anything, I can see that I’ve made great progress in some areas and that this growth is my own personal success. During our discussion, I also realized that my wife was right and had to eat some humble pie for previous discussions we had.
So as a word of encouragement to my peers out there, I want you to know it’s okay to NOT be impactful today. Don’t forsake the yearning of being a world changer, but give yourself grace to grow into the person you need to be first. It is a journey and not a sprint so enjoy the moments and the challenges as they come and you’ll be a lot better off.
Secondly , if you look at your life and say “I’m not good at anything”, remember that you can begin something today that leads to expertise somewhere down the road. Einstein, Aristotle, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and countless other great minds started off just like you at some point. What you do today and tomorrow will lead you to who you will be in 3.5 years.
Lastly, never forget that every decision we make leads us to be a new us somewhere down the road. What you eat, who you spend your time with, how you spend your time, and what you let your mind wander off to will mold your future self. In light of this, you should constantly evaluate the outcome possibilities of a decision and make sure it create the person you desire to be.
In conclusion, I must iterate that I’m not as impactful as I will be someday but I do hope the decisions I make today will lead me to a better place down the road. After all, I’ve just begun and I’ve got a wife who needs her 23 year old husband, and not a 43 year wanna be.