Ever since millennials have entered the workplace, they appear to have the “millennial mindset”: they have gathered a bit of a reputation for being over expectant, under motivated and somewhat nihilistic. If such a mindset was common amongst the younger working generation what exactly would be causing that millennial mindset? And the most obvious place to look is where it is that people are spending massively more time in the modern day than they ever had before.
Where are People Spending their Time?
In the modern world, we are almost constantly exposed to stories, shows and movies specifically designed to grab our attention and entertain us. The common theme of many of these is a focus on character growth and overcoming some massive challenge. Certainly, people are all familiar with the trope of the weakling who stumbles across some great power. Flash-forward and there is a master who gives a cheesy life lesson, there is a ten-minute training montage and presto the MC (main character) is now insanely powerful. All that’s left for the story is the final confrontation where the MC confronts the bad guy, gets beaten up a bit, realises the true meaning of master’s cheesy lesson, attains god level power and surmounts this grand challenge. There are other tropes, of course, the shy girl a makeover away from social and self-acceptance, the sleeping beast a kidnapped daughter or lost puppy away from a god level rampage and many more.
What is the Common Issue Within All of these Tropes?
The issue is one of condensation. If a story being told accurately reflects reality then it would in fact be incredibly slow paced and boring. So understandably those in the entertainment industry have to condense stories and make them excessively grand or they won’t be consumed. This also manifests itself in online and social media platforms (condense and aggrandise so it will be consumed). Unfortunately, as a result, all these stories represent a disproportionate amount of achievement relative to the amount of effort put in. This isn’t to say that the entertainment industry is nefarious and evil, or that an entertaining story is a bad thing. The effect of watching a few movies or playing a video game is near non-existent. The problem is the fact that most people consume more than twenty hours of entertainment a week and if you consider someone doing this for a couple decades and likely from a young and impressionable age you begin to see a problem, especially regarding “millennials.”
The Problem? A Millennial Mindset
The problem being that over long periods of consumption these highly condensed stories with unreasonable expectations imprint themselves on us, causing a millennial mindset. The result of this is to intensify a struggle that a lot of younger people face in the open world. Many people struggle when they realise just how big the world is and just how many people there are that are more intelligent, more talented and more successful than they are. On top of this they realise that becoming a master in a field isn’t a ten-minute training montage away but rather years of dedication and practice separate them from their goal. In effect we find ourselves with a double-edged sword, on the one side we have the over emphasis on results which typically holds the expectation of almost demi-god achievement and on the other side we have this continuous belittlement of the process of life by which I mean the work and effort that goes into achieving those results.
What Does This Mean?
Many, if not most people with a millennial mindset, really struggle to stay the course on realising their full potential. Life is not a walk in the park, it’s hard, it challenges us in ways we cannot predict. The only thing that we can predict is that you will face hardship, you will face heartbreak and you will encounter problems that you cannot solve all whilst the responsibilities and expectations placed on you grow ever greater. It becomes hard to stand up and face these challenges, especially when the world has given us so many places to hide from them such as cell phones, television, video games and all the other ‘wonderful escapes’ we have at hand. Even worse is that concepts such as challenge, hardship and responsibility are all too often viewed as a bad thing when in fact they are the crucible through which exemplary people are made.
Ultimately it would seem that there is grounds to say that there is a regularly occurring mindset amongst the younger generation and it is not some ethereal phenomenon but rather the result of an unintentional indoctrination of instant gratification, unrealistic expectations and the devaluing of process and challenge.
Solutions to the Millennial Mindset?
Now it would be inaccurate to assume that all millennials suffer from the millennial mindset, or that it is only millennials that suffer from the millennial mindset however just in case here are a few simple tips to be aware of when dealing with life and its challenges.
First, you can start by keeping a journal. Simply write down your thoughts, your problems, your challenges and your ideas in a notebook on a regular basis. This is actually very helpful to you in three distinct ways
- It helps you track your progress.
One of the main reasons why people lose hope when trying to learn new skills or achieve something is that they feel that they aren’t making progress when the truth is that, if they are trying, they probably are. They forget that the changes don’t happen in ten minutes. Have you ever seen a picture of yourself next to your parents when you were much younger and felt shocked by how small you were? The thing is you change, and you improve but you do it slowly. You are in your skin every day, you see yourself in the mirror every day and you think your thoughts every day. Of course, you don’t notice the tiny day to day improvements but when you have recorded yourself and you look back at where you have come from you may suddenly be surprised to realise how far you have come.
- It helps you deal with challenges appropriately.
The mind is an amazing thing, it is always taking in the information we receive and making connections. It’s very good at combining all the things we know and all the signals we are receiving to create a solid perception of the world we are in. Unfortunately, this can work against us; especially when we are stressed or feeling overwhelmed because our minds will combine all the challenges we are facing, and it will seem like you are facing some insurmountable wall that you must overcome in a single bound. But this simply isn’t true. If you write down this seemingly overwhelming problem, you quickly realise that you can break it down into several smaller problems. If you then make sure that you record and recognise each of these small problems, making sure that they are distinct and separate, you realise that what you are facing isn’t some giant wall it is a series of steps, like a staircase. And you don’t climb a staircase by jumping straight to the top, you climb it by taking one step at a time.
- It helps you stay true to yourself.
It is often when things are at their most difficult that we forget what it is we are trying to achieve. We lose direction and often act out of turn or in ways that we later come to regret. When this happens, it is useful to have something to fall back on as tool to reflect on where you are and why you are there. This is particularly useful when you don’t know what step to take next.
Another useful habit is to try replacing some of your entertainment consumption with a hobby. Note that the key distinction here is that a hobby does not have you engaging with someone else’s fictional story, but rather has you engaged in your own ‘side-story,’ if you will. Yes, a hobby is an escape, but it is not an escape from your life, it is an escape to a different part of your life. What makes a hobby useful to you is it gives you a source of entertainment as well as an opportunity to get into the habit of solving problems, gradually improving and simply enjoying your day to day life. Yes, it is possible that some video games could be considered a hobby but for those gamers out there you must ask yourself: “By playing these games am I doing it to challenge my skill and wit? or are am I simply trying to escape into a fiction where I do not have to deal with my life?”
Finally, meditation. I don’t mean meditation in terms of finding enlightenment or going around and telling people how awesome and zen you are. No, what I mean is setting aside quiet time and attention to get to know yourself. Strange as it may sound people don’t know themselves very well and when they are alone with nothing to do, they become extremely uncomfortable, why? Probably because they don’t like who they are alone with.
The practical use and application of meditation is an article in and of itself and will be covered in a later article.
Thanks for reading.