The Generation Game: Playing for Fulfilment?
Life, is the name of the game - apparently. But what to do with your life? Ultimately, we all draw fulfilment from differing sources. I'm a big believer in the power of each individual to shape their life through their choices and efforts. However, we are also all to some degree a product of our environment and circumstances - and one of the biggest external factors in this is the generation we find ourselves in.
It's easy to get lost in the myriad titles given to age groups, some more complimentary than others; Generations X, Y and Z, Millennials, Baby Boomers, Generation Snowflake, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants... the list goes on.
However, the socio-economic climate we operate in can and does impact our choices. For the sake of simplicity, let's compare Millenials (I fall into this category) with Baby Boomers (my parents' generation). This is all a matter of perspective, but this is my take:
Baby Boomers are a group who like to get fulfilment from getting things done and seeing a tangible reward - for many, there was a housing ladder that you could reach the first rung of and keep climbing. Career-wise, growth in many industries meant that promotions were available and brought greater salary, the opportunity to travel and acquire more assets. Clearly this all still took hard work, but one of the key elements to fulfilment was present - a sense of progress. In many professions, final salary pension schemes awaited, leaving the opportunity for travel, full-time grand-parenting, or simply making sure you get to the newsagent by 7am every day (why does that happen?!) Anyway, efforts were generally rewarded.
For the millennial, many of these motivating factors no longer exist. Very few industries retain such working practices in terms of allowances, pensions and so on (as a Southern Rail victim I won't bitterly name them.. whoops, too late). Years of spending reviews, global financial and political instability allied with exorbitant house prices and costs of living mean scaling the property ladder resembles completing the Ninja Warrior obstacle course, with the concrete block of student debt tied to your back. Is it any wonder that millennials now seek fulfilment through experiences, travel, connections and a sense of making a difference?
Clearly these aren't absolutes; many Baby Boomers have achieved huge charitable ambitions, and plenty of Millennials do devote themselves to wealth and status (not to be confused with Chase and Status). The point is that we all have our own motivations, but they can be swept along with the tide at any period in history, meaning many people feel unfulfilled, unhappy, stuck in a rut.
So if you are questioning why you get up in the morning, why you commute, why you don't say what you really think in meetings, why you daydream about being a zookeeper or a stand-up comedian, or whatever is on your mind... think carefully about what really fulfils you and how you might start to work towards that. Then, when all is said and done, you can look back on your achievements and say "didn't I do well?"