(Part 1) Millennials: Selfish Couch Potatoes or Optimistic World Citizens?

This is Part One of a three part collaborative blog by Alison and Mel contrasting generational perspectives on passion, purpose, and pathways to success.

If you Google the term “Millennials”, you’ll return about 17 million hits that all center on disentangling the psyche of the generation who has or just about reached adulthood today. There is great contention in understanding what drives Millennials; we are “entitled”, “narcissistic”, “lazy”, “overeducated”, leeches who live at home, diverse, entitled, and financially anxious; but we are also frugal, financially and technologically savvy, upbeat, engaged, increasingly global, socially and politically literate/active, share a common mistrust of religious leaders, government entities and military powers, socially liberal, and surprisingly optimistic despite growing up in an era of economic instability and wavering confidence in political leaders. Most critically, there are overwhelming disagreements about whether the millennial pursuit of the “perfect job” – that is, a job that fulfills intellectual needs, compensates generously for provided skill, purposefully addresses a real world demand, and respects the parameters of a work-life balance – is decidedly selfish/unrealistic, or a welcome departure from previous generations’ approach to careers and fulfillment. It is a debate that generates both derision and admiration from older generations, and point to a larger paradigmatic shift in a values system that is quickly evolving before our eyes: what fulfills us? What matters in a job? How do you quantify success? At what point does personal ambition come at odds with pragmatic considerations? What is the longevity of such a pursuit, and what are the financial, emotional, and societal implications down the road?

Where do you fall in your evaluation of what’s important in a career? How has the generation you belonged to, and the historical events surrounding your coming-of-age impacted how you defined success? What do you think of the millenial pursuit of the “perfect job?” Sound off and let us know how you define success, happiness, and career satisfaction in the comments below. 


Next week, a post on how one millennial has framed her pursuit of purpose and profession in a talk titled “The Crossroads of Should and Must”, and how one Generation Z-er, a Riverdale student, responded.

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