Unlike previous generations, Millennials are faced with unique social and economic pressures that impact personal growth. There is no single blueprint for success, happiness, and a stable career, and the old mentalities of Gen Xers no longer apply.
The idea that you need to "put your head down" and continue working at a job you don't like so that you can "climb the ladder" is outdated and no longer the case. Proving my point, a study by LinkedIn found that Millennials change jobs an average of four times by the time they're 32 years old. However, the problem is that most Millennials underestimate how similar they are to their parents and Gen Xers. The thought processes of previous generations are still deeply entrenched in the ways Millennials think about personal development.
Using the "climb the ladder" mentality as a metaphor, many Millennials think that personal growth occurs in a straight line. As a life coach and licensed therapist, I can attest to the fact that many of my successful and highly motivated clients assume that if they mediate and do yoga on a consistent basis, for example, they'll eventually find happiness. Others imagine that because they are socially conscious--aware of social inequalities and advocates for social justice--they will continue growing as people and young professionals.
Not true. Clients that fall into both groups still find themselves struggling to find meaningful careers and the fulfilling lives they desire. And they both become frustrated when they experience life's inevitable setbacks.
The truth that both groups are overlooking is the secret to sustaining and accelerating personal and professional development.
The secret is that personal growth, like progress, is not linear.
Regardless of how much Millennials wish that "If we just follow the directions, we'll find happiness," or think that "If I'm an informed citizen and social justice advocate, I'll be a 'good person,'" that's not reality. In fact, that's your parents' mentality creeping into the way you think about the world.
Older generations thought that career progress was a straight line. They believed that "If I do X, I will get Y," and that's the great lie continuing to prevent true personal and professional growth in Millennials.
Personal development and progress are not linear for three important reasons.
1. Unpredictable events occur.
Welcome to life and adulthood--no matter how hard you try, there will always be other things demanding your time, energy, and attention in unforeseen ways.
2. There is no single "correct" path.
No one-size-fits-all approach exists, and if someone tries to sell you that--don't buy it. We all need to find our unique path by working with an experienced professional whose entire career is built on maximizing individual talent.
3. The mind is infinitely complex.
There are many layers that need to be worked through to continue improving your areas of growth. Temporary regression happens, and life will continue to test you.
To truly sustain personal and professional development and attain the level of success Millennials desire, they need to appreciate the fact that growth isn't a straight line. They need to understand that treating social justice or personal growth as an identity is shallow and won't create the positive changes they desire. Then they need to take a balanced approach to personal growth by recognizing these three crucial points:
1. Consistent investment elicits tangible growth.
You need to buy in to your personal development. Be disciplined and consistent in your approach, even when you feel like you don't need it. Having foundational practices will keep you grounded when life throws a curve ball.
2. That investment will not provide linear returns.
Adjust your mentality. Know that results will occur, they just might not fit onto a linear path.
3. Maintain trust in the process.
The less you fixate on the outcome and the more you focus on falling in love with the process of personal and professional development, the more success and fulfillment you'll attain.
Find your balance, discover what personal development practices work for you, and trust the process. Be consistent and persistent. Most of all, adjust your mindset.
You live in a new age filled with unlimited possibilities that older generations envy. Start taking advantage of your opportunities by investing in yourself.