4 Areas In Which Millennials Need to Stop Sucking

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The era of hyper-connectivity has brought with it innumerable social phenomena. As we live in an age in which everyday opinionation has bled into the realm of performance art, in which innocuous civil disagreement so routinely morphs into unfettered keyboard savagery, we’ve been granted an intriguing and ongoing glimpse into the stark disconnects in the way different generations observe and perceive the human condition. This uber-public display has spawned a number of widely agreed upon perceptions regarding the current state of social affairs.

Times have changed.

The world is doomed.

Millennials are idiots.

At least that’s what a few minutes of scrolling through your news feed on any given Tuesday would lead you to believe. But as with all of my pieces my goal is to remain as objective as possible given the information with which I’m equipped. So, being a member of the Millennial Generation myself,  it’s only fair that I preface this piece with a few declarative statements.

The reality is that the only difference between the way Millennials are perceived by their predecessors and those previous generations by theirs is the ability of people of all generations to voice whatever nonsense is in their heads on a public forum at any given time. That’s it.

Now, to clarify, I didn’t say that was the only difference between the Millennial Generation and it’s predecessors. I said it’s the only difference in they way they’re perceived. The truth is every generation thinks they’re just the greatest truckload of babies ever to be dumped on Mother Nature’s front lawn. The Traditionalists swore the world was burning when the Baby Boomers all turned into self-absorbed, flower-boning hippies and the Boomers disparaged Gen X’ers as the lazy and disaffected “MTV Generation.” Even the term “Me Generation” can be as seamlessly used to describe Baby Boomers as it is Millennials just depending on who it is that’s doing the using. Generations throughout time have unanimously condescended to the next. So let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that Millennials have somehow managed to garner a special brand of disrespect from their elders. They haven’t, it’s just easier to talk shit these days.

Furthermore, there are no universal characteristics that apply to all members of any constituency, so describing an entire generation as being tied together by a particular set of unflattering traits is arbitrary at best. Especially considering that pretty much every avenue by which those kinds of messages spread in today’s world was created by a Millennial. So understand that I’m not jumping on the generation self-deprecation hate wagon. We have more influential and successful young people now than at any other time in history, but they’re doing fine without my praises and very few of them probably have the time or motivation to read my blog so they aren’t the focus of this piece. Because although the Millennials have offered some of the greatest examples of innovation and advancement in the modern era, as a whole they’re statistically lacking in just about every measurable metric that matters; they live at home longer, have less savings, fewer usable skills and, measured from the median, aren’t nearly as prepared to prosper in the middle stages of life as generations before.

Of course these issues aren’t entirely self-inflicted. Economic conditions, deviations in traditional family dynamics and parenting styles, the effect of myriad different social epidemics, there are a lot of different things that can contribute to the way a generation is shaped. But none of that changes the fact that Millennials, by and large, are undeniably some of the dumbest people to have ever walked the Earth.

Here are four areas in which they have an opportunity to improve:

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1. They’re awful, just awful, with money.

According to a test administered by The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at George Washington University only 24% of adults ages 23-35 demonstrated basic financial literacy. So only one in four grown ass adults in that range understands even the basic fundamentals of financial management. That’s a really garbage statistic. It’s the kind of number that makes you skeptical, until you read something like this and realize that percentage may, in fact, be generous.

For the most part, the consensus Millennial mindset is one of short-term pleasure in sacrifice of long-term prosperity. It’s seems as though it’s generally agreed upon that the entire generation will die out by the age of 40 as they’re sure as hell not prepared for life beyond that mark. The prototypical young adult these days would rather blow what little savings he has on Coachella tickets (Do people really still go to Coachella? Why were there so many pictures of Coachella in my newsfeed this year?) than give himself any kind of fighting chance to live an abundant life in the future.

So for my Millennial brothers and sisters reading please heed this warning: It’s really not that hard to be financially comfortable. It takes a little effort and a lot of conscious decision making. There will be struggle and sacrifice along the way, you may even be uncomfortable at times. But life doesn’t end at 35, you’ll probably be around a lot longer than that. And the only thing worse than getting old is getting old and being broke. So stop intentionally screwing your life up and start investing your money. (Also read my post Five Things  About Money I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Self)

 

2. They misunderstand the properties of association.

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I need to make this abundantly clear as it seems lost on so many floundering post-adolescents these days, just because Mark Zuckerberg dresses like shit and doesn’t care what anyone thinks doesn’t mean you’ll be successful taking the same route. He went to Harvard and spent every night on a Red Bull/Adderall-fueled coding tear in an intentional and persistent effort to change the world. You’re not him, or like anyone who would be mentioned in the same arena.

As a constituency Millennials are absolutely infected with an abundance of optimism and creative energy, paired with a dearth of work ethic and resolve. Again, I’m well aware of the bias here, I’m not talking about all Millennials, I would hope I’m not talking about myself, this article is about the median. The Millennial Generation has given us some of the greatest living minds. It has also given us millions of people that think big and act small, or not at all. It’s given us a colossal group of people that have every intention of doing great things, until they realize that doing great things means starting at the bottom and working your ass off until someone of greater influence allows you into their world and grants you an opportunity to accomplish your goals. And this is true across the board.

I have an almost uncountable number of peers that claim to be the Founders and CEOs of companies that don’t actually exist. Rather they’re a figment of the wild imaginations of individuals whose desire to conquer the world has been obliterated by the reality that becoming a person of influence and prosperity starts at the bottom, not the top.

Children, please understand that just because people that look like you appear to have become successful with minimal effort and on no one else’s terms, things are literally never as they seem. Success in any realm is built from the ground up. You will never become an executive, even within your own concern, unless you’re willing to first work in the mail room. Write that down.

 

3. They set themselves up for failure.

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The largest setback for the average young adult is their student loan debt. Yes I said setback. Traditionally that money would have been thought of as a highly leveraged investment in one’s future. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Most kids don’t take college seriously. Shocking right? But what they do take seriously is the crippling feeling of helplessness associated with the realization that they promised to pay back an egregious amount of money only to find out, upon receiving their diplomas, that no one wants to pay a Sociology Major with a 2.7 GPA anywhere near what it would take to get back in the black any time in the next half century.

Now I’m not going to get political here, I have my own qualms with the higher education system in this country and some rigid convictions regarding how things could be changed for the better (which I promise to share with you in a separate article, whether you like it or not). But we’re all familiar with the system as it stands. Most of us have to borrow a ton of money to pay for college and we agree to pay it back in set increments by a pre-determined date.

The reality, however, is that the percentage of college kids that actually act like they’ve spent their own money on education is slim to say the least. Now I don’t have any hard facts or stats to deliver here. This is purely what I’ve deduced as a normal human person who has been and knows lots of people who either are in or have been to college. It’s a pretty straightforward research technique. The situation as it stands is this: If you’re a middle-class suburban American young adult, college simply isn’t that hard to get into, isn’t that hard to get loans for and really isn’t all that hard to graduate.

With a combination like that it’s not difficult to see why the average college kid would rather spend four years getting blackout drunk and trying to smash than actually take their opportunity at a higher education seriously. The intrinsic motivation has been severely limited if not removed entirely.

Unfortunately the real world isn’t quite as accommodating and so upon entering a fierce job market with limited tangible skills to present after a four year stint in vocational purgatory, most newly minted college graduates flounder out of the gate. And the inability to find gainful employment compounds the crushing effects of all that borrowed money on their fragile, lost souls.

So kids, if you elect to pursue a higher education take it seriously. As seriously as you would your own career. As seriously as you would providing for your own family because the reality is that’s what you’re preparing for. And being the self-proclaimed campus beer pong champion doesn’t put food on the table, son. Also, if you’ve ever bragged about your ‘skills’ at any drinking game you’re a clown. You just don’t know it yet.

 

4. They have a horrible sense of time.

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Millennials are all about experience over comfort; about living in the moment rather than worrying about the future. While it’s admirable to want to derive as much pleasure from one’s life as possible, this is literally just about the opposite way of efficiently doing that.

Millennials, listen to me, life is not short, no matter how many dumbass memes tell you it is. It’s long, like actually really long if you take care of yourself. And I can promise you that if you have all of your faculties in your twenties, you’re not going to suddenly develop dementia the moment you hit thirty. You’ll still be you. You still be young. You’ll still be capable of enjoying all the leisures of your former life, but if you blow your load right out of the gate you’ll be fighting an uphill battle every step of the way.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy yourself when you’re young. But you should be consciously aware of the way your choices affect your ability to design the life you truly want to live. I promise you, almost everything you think is important when you’re young will lose it’s significance. That same way you don’t give two shits about most of the things you thought were important in high school.

Just because you live your life like there’s no tomorrow doesn’t mean there won’t be one. There will. And if you don’t prepare for it the closest you’ll ever get to the good life is the Rap Caviar playlist on Spotify. Do better than that.

 

In five days I’ll turn the ripe age of thirty. My youth will officially be over and the plausible deniability of inexperience will vanish with it. I’ll miss my twenties, I’m sure. Miss the feeling that time is on my side. Miss kidding myself that I still have enough in the tank to become middleweight champion of the world.  But I will, as we do with all of life’s major changes, find a way to adjust.

And while I imagine becoming accustomed to the new denotation will take a little time, I do know one thing for sure. Pulling up in my blacked out Porsche, wearing a custom suit, to my 30th birthday dinner and enjoying time with the people I hold closest is going to feel a hell of a lot better than anything I did in my twenties.

Living like there’s no tomorrow is idiotic. There is a tomorrow. And if you plan accordingly, it’ll be more abundant than today.

 

xoxo

Brian

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