I am a millennial. I remember my 6th grade teacher struggling to explain what was happening in New York on the morning of 9/11. I remember wishing I had known Princess Diana, listening to the Goo Goo Dolls on repeat, and my first Motorola Razr.
The advent of new technology and subsequent globalization have molded us into a generation keenly aware of social inequalities, an earth in peril, and the reality of a volatile economy. Social media allows our voices to be heard on a larger scale than any generation before us. We propose solutions that are innovative and benevolent, and those solutions don't often fit into corporate-ladder climbing America. These are just a few of the reasons that I am proud to be a millennial.
X vs. Y
However, the anti-millennial bandwagon is ever-growing; Gen X loves to bash Gen Y. They say we are overconfident and we don't accept criticism, that we are lazy, coddled, entitled, and we rely too much on luck. We are accused of having no defined plan to achieve a fulfilling career.
The reality is, Gen X is right in some ways. We often do not rely on hard skills to reach our end goals, relying more so on luck and opportunity. In lieu of 80 hour work weeks and "staying the track," we are excellent networkers, and this is our most valuable skill. We are serial job-hoppers, our career directions are fuzzy and our paths will zigzag for a number of years before we find our "thing."
Therefore, our goals and strategies for achieving those goals are radically different from those of Generation X. We are no less ambitious, just different. In fact, over half of millennials want to start their own business. Some of the biggest game-changers today are Millennials: Mark Zuckerberg, the founders of Dropbox, Pinterest, Instagram, AirBnB, Tumblr, and Quora.
Our problem is that we don't always know the How, When, and Why of our bold ventures. We sometimes get stuck chasing our tails in circles of might-be-opportunities and next-big-things, and our directions are wholly undefined. We get frustrated and see career goal-setting as pointless because our course will inevitably change within a few years anyway. In the end, we don't set goals.
And if we do set goals, they are unrealistic. Eighty one percent of 18 to 25 year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Study said getting rich is their generation's most important or second-most important life goal. 51% said the same thing about being famous, according to USA Today.
Millennials, this can't happen. Goal-setting is not just something corporate that doesn't apply to us; goals give us purpose and direction that are difficult for us to otherwise harness. Our generation has too much potential to squander away our 20s spinning in circles.
Specific long-term career goals aren't within a realistic scope for many of us, but aggressive short-term goals that make us uncomfortable will fuel us forward. Set goals that focus on personal development, networking, and career exploration, as opposed to stability.
Begin by setting a goal to do the best thing you can do for today – give today a direction – and eventually our short-term efforts will focus themselves into a long-term, defined path. Our shorter-range goals will be no less ambitious, but will allow us to be detailed and SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
After deciding upon today's goal, write it down. A study conducted on a Harvard MBA program asked students if they had written down clear and measurable goals. The result, only 3% had written their goals down, 13% had goals but they weren't in writing, and 84% had no goals at all. Ten years later, the 13% of the class who had goals but didn't write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!
Collectively, let's harness the amazing power and potential that our generation carries. We have amazing ability – unlike any kind this world has ever seen – but we must give it a direction. By doing this, our teams will be more powerful, more engaged, connected, and more focused. Let's start a generation of businesses that solve problems big and small. We can do this, but we have to be SMART about it.
Start by setting three goals: one for today, one for tomorrow, and one for this week. Use Weekdone's Smart Goal widget to set yourself up for success. Now – let's go show Generation X what we're all about.