For those born between 1982 and 2004* – congratulations! You make up part of the millennial generation that the world sees as powerful industry killing monsters with a sense of entitlement rivaling that of any prior generation.
* Give or take a few years – it varies depending on the source and there remains a lack of universal agreement over the exact age range.
The term was coined in 1987, during a time when George Michael's, "Faith" ruled the airwaves, Prozac was the new FDA-approved wonder drug, and a society was growing increasingly obsessed over the looming, millennium (preschoolers in 1987 would the graduating high school class of 2000). That correlation was evidently noticed, and the "millennial" was born, the term credited to William Strauss and Neil Howe, who wrote about this curious cohort in their 1991 book, "Generations - The History of America's Future," and their 2000 work, "Millennials Rising: The Next Generation." The pair of demographers believed that millennials would reject their boomer forebears' individualism and libertinism, becoming the "next Greatest Generation."
Via Lindsey Pollak
Strauss and Howe anticipated that this generation would radically reshape American life, based on their theory of repeating generational archetypes directly correlated with historical events of the time. They saw this sheltered generation resulting from the "most sweeping youth-safety movement in American history" and recognized them are a generation that consider themselves special, both as individuals and as a group, deeming them as confident, team-oriented, high-achieving, and pressured to succeed. They pretty much nailed it.
However, they didn't foresee how this innate confidence - while largely a positive trait for any other generation - would spill over into the realms of perceived entitlement and narcissism. These days, millennials are called many things, and Greatest Generation is not quite one of them. Psychologist Jean Twenge described millennials as "Generation Me" in her 2006 book and in 2013, Time magazine ran a cover story titled, "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation." There's also "Generation 9/11" an apocalyptic name that aligns with Strauss and Howe's ideas explored in the 1997 book, "The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy."
Strauss and Howe's optimistically thought that the confident, high-achievers would yield the creation of institutions that would transform society. Instead millennials proved interested in forcing the old ones to live up to their high-minded rhetoric in a time where their future is still uncertain, reeling from unexpected economic upheaval.
Millennials are now viewed as a force of narcissistic nature, demanding treatment no one before them ever received, and drastically reshaping everything in their path, from college campuses to the housing market. According to all the media everywhere, millennials are responsible for killing pretty much everything and retain the all the power to lead to an Ayn Rand vision of a dystopia with entire industries being demolished. Millennials even get credit for brutally murdering the mayonnaise industry!
Millennials do wield a certain power, the same power that every generation to emerge has - the sheer number of millennials is intimidating and combined with the native digital language that naturally formed with exposure to emerging technology absolutely terrifies industries across the country. These older businesses view millennials as a threat while the generation sees themselves as powerless, pummeled by the world left for them by their elders.
Millennials have been surrounded by technology their whole lives, the effects only heightened by their helicopter parents (new term that emerged for overprotective baby boomer parents of millennials who are excessively involved in their children's lives), enabling constant contact. These "helicopter parents" have a tendency towards coddling and micromanaging, stemming from an inherent need to keep their children save from stranger danger (and anything else that could hurt them) and likely overcompensating for feeling neglected and unloved by their own lack of present parents. As such, millennials were raised to believe that they are special snowflakes, with the mantra "follow your dreams" instilled in them since childhood with their parents shielding them from anything that could potentially hurt their self-esteem, eliminating the very developmental phenomenon known as failure (the new apparent achievement of merely participating means that everyone gets a trophy and there are no losers).
With baby boomer parents preparing their children for the expected hyper-competitive 21st-century labor market, millennials were led to believe in meritocracy and forced into competition for their spots within it — only to find themselves paralyzed by a disintegrating job market, a catastrophic debt load and a financial crisis that struck just as large numbers were entering the workforce.
In a case of straight up bad timing, millennials collided with a time of economic trauma, creating an already disillusioned generation who entered into adulthood with unrealistic expectations, unprepared for a recession marked by structural shifts in the economy with detrimental impacts. Millennials have been defined by this era of economic trauma; stagnant wages, a skyrocketing cost of housing, colossal student debt have put millennials on the path to a lower quality of life than their parents (this is the first generation since the Silent Generation that is expected to be less economically successful than their parents).
Taking everything into consideration, it could be argued that millennials are unfairly blamed for things out of their control, victims of circumstance to a certain extent. Yes, millennials do have some unsavory traits bred from the environment around them, but perhaps society can give them just a bit a slack?
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed www.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.
Here are the top trips to take this fall:
Toni Morrison has an anecdote about her first ever job, which was cleaning some neighborhood woman’s house. The young Toni arrived home after work one day and expressed her troubles to her father. But he didn’t provide the sympathy she expected. Instead, he gave her something better — his advice:
“Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”
Years later, she wrote about this remarkable experience for the New Yorker and said, in hindsight, this is what she learned:
1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself
2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you
3. Your real life is with us, your family
4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are
What Morrison so eloquently articulated was setting boundaries. I revisited this piece during the pandemic when working from home ramped up in earnest. Back when work was one of the few things that anchored my day.
Without a physical office, the pandemic shattered the work/life balance for many people. There was no more of that physical separation that Morrison talked about. There is no coming home from work physically. There is no real life to come back to — just a manufactured commute to your laptop in your makeshift home office.
But, par for the course, Gen Z are navigating this boundaryless era using TikTok. While internet gurus promote hustle culture and constant online availability since you’re not getting face time with your managers, there’s a trend in town — “quiet quitting.”
@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby
The trend arose from the depths of the pandemic. Layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs proved that their employers did not care about their hard-working employees.
The Washington Post dubs quiet quitting as a fresh trem for an old phenomenon: employee disengagement. In many cases, it’s a response to burnout. For much of Gen Z, it’s a way of establishing healthy boundaries in the office and resisting the pressure of the rat race. After all, why work yourself to the bone for a company that just proved it’s ready and willing to let you go?
Despite the term’s negative connotations, Quiet Quitting can provide an empowering shift in thinking for employees.
For far too long, employees have been indoctrinated with a slew of toxic workplace advice. Faced with these old misconceptions and lacking job security or clear paths for advancement, Gen Z is untethering their identities from work.
Quiet quitting — therefore — might be a bit of a misnomer. These employers aren’t completely disengaged. They’re certainly not launching Flight Club-esque sabotage attempts on their employers. NO. Contrary to media panic, Gen Z understands the value of a job — the fickle market they entered ensured that. But they also understand the value of life.
They’re doing what they’re being paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.
According to Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders, older generations should learn from this approach.
“Gen Z has already endured the largest seismic shifts to the career landscape than any previous generation, having started their careers in the middle of a pandemic that changed office culture forever and a gig economy that makes piecing together work more viable. They’re taking both those realities and therefore demanding more autonomy and flexibility than any other generation.”
Gen Z are less attached to job titles and statuses. They’re more concerned about their lives. Sure, this can lead to problematic outlooks on money and experiences — see the “I can earn my money back” TikTok trend. But it’s better than hustling for no reward. Besides, as some Gen Z-ers put it on TikTok, the office isn’t even a vibe.
“With the ability to work from anywhere and for more than just one place, Gen Z-ers are forging their own paths that don’t rely on old patterns set by previous generations and are redefining what “career success” looks like. Gen Z can take note, as more and more leaders are similarly pursuing multiple income streams of their own through the form of a portfolio career. The way in which work looks like and where it happens is evolving.”
With less single-minded focus on one job, some TikTok business gurus advocate shutting your laptops precisely at 5 pm. And then jump onto your side hustle. Do nails or lashes on the weekend. Become social media managers for your phone. Sell soap on Etsy (again … perhaps not in the Fight Club way).
But this valorization of side hustles is not about hustle culture, either. They say job security isn’t guaranteed. Learning new skills and develop an alternate income stream/s to keep you afloat. Just make sure you’re not left in the lurch. BTW inflation is here. So every little bit helps.
But where do you start? Watching TikToks can only get you so far. Try a course on LinkedIn Learning to sharpen up your skills and learn new ones that you can turn into a verifiable side hustle — or leverage in your job search if quiet quitting leads to … real quitting.
Learn on your own time with bite-sized videos or in-depth courses. Watch them after work, before you clock in, or on your lunch break. Then, after your courses are complete, you’ll have certificates prominently displayed on your profile that prove your skills.