I think the greatest lesson we can learn from Generation Y is that it isn’t who we are, where we are, or how old we are – but it’s the fact that we are and have a life that is worth living.
They are being called Millennials: the otherwise known as Generation Y – those born between roughly 1976 and 2000. They may come from different races, backgrounds, and socio-economic statuses, but one thing is for certain – they are ready for change.
They are leading the calls for reform on healthcare, work-life balance, politics, and the environment, just to name a few. They are vocal, connected, and ready to do what has been put off by many people for years. They recognize the hard work ahead of them, and the sacrifices they may have to make, but they also realize that if they don’t come together, and rally others together, the future looks pretty bleak.
A recent Businessweek article talked about the Millennials and their desire to throw out the status quo in all aspects of their lives. It’s not just their lives either – for the first time in recent history this group of people is gathering together to send a strong message to anyone who will listen – it is not about “me”, it is about “we”. They realize that change only happens when people stop thinking about the singular and start thinking about the plural. It doesn’t matter if the change isn’t benefiting them directly – they know that it will benefit the whole of society and it makes it a worthwhile cause to be fighting for – whether it is for healthcare, the environment or whatever the cause may be.
Generation Yers are forming communities, either physically or virtually, to bring together ideas and actions. They are setting clear goals for their lives – and then following through with action plans to achieve those goals. Instead of putting it off until tomorrow, they know that many of the problems they want to tackle in life need to be addressed today or there might not be a tomorrow. They know that nothing good comes out of life unless you work for it – and work they are!
Many of the Millennials are concerned about what they see happening to their parents – loss of healthcare benefits, non-existent job security, loss of social security income, and loss of pension plans – and also realize that they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives being owned by work. They want to spend time with their families and communities doing the things they enjoy. They aren’t afraid of working, but they also don’t want to give up their life goals and energy to a company either. They have seen their parents give up their life dreams to a company only to have that loyalty tossed aside in the name of profits.
This younger generation is using the power of networking, both social and professional, to help realize some of their goals. They are embracing new technologies to help them work smarter and find solutions to problems they are facing in life. Instead of relying on old ways of doing things, they are inventing new ways that are often more efficient – that give them more time to get on with their lives and waste less time trying to make the square peg fit into the round hole. When something doesn’t work, they come together in their networks and communities to figure out a way to make it work.
All of us can draw some inspiration from these individuals and how they are using their strong beliefs to fight for a cause they think is right. Perhaps we can do the same. Instead of thinking of them as a new generation that is taking over, we can instead look at them as a social movement that is all-encompassing and accepting. You don’t need to be a Millennial to get involved and believe in what they are trying to accomplish.
In fact, perhaps the greatest lesson of all we can learn from them is that it isn’t who you are, where you are, or how old you are – it is the fact that you ARE and you have a life that is worthy of living and life goals that should never be compromised or given up upon no matter how bleak things may look. Together, we can solve any problem.