Most Millennials struggle to feel successful, even with six-figure paychecks. What gives? Here’s a quick look at how and why perception of success has changed and four easy things you can do to overcome!
Regardless of their laundry list of accomplishments, many Millennials are struggling to feel successful. We can point to many potential culprits: social media and comparison to others, the glorification of celebrity, the inflated sense of fulfillment career is “supposed” to bring, hidden childhood and societal pressures, etc.
Do you count yourself among this group? You’re not alone. And regardless of why, there are ways to do things differently and break the chain of dissatisfaction.
Here are four tips to rethink success, achieve your goals and reduce career anxiety:
#1: Stop focusing on the end goal, and instead, focus on the work right in front of you.
This trick applies to the workplace, school, parenting … pretty much any area of life where you exert effort. We often spend all our energy focusing or worrying about the end goal — receiving a promotion, getting an A, avoiding divorce — we leave little energy for the tasks that get us the results we want.
It’s understandable why Millennials get caught up in the end result since they were taught to do so from an early age. Take school for example. Schooling in the U.S. is often treated, overtly or covertly, as a means to an end. Here’s the recipe: get good grades in high school, get into a good college, get a good job and live happily ever after, right? Eh. Not so fast.
There’s a missing message in this recipe for success: school is actually for learning. If grades are more important than knowledge, it’s no surprise kids turn to cheating and shortcuts (think Sparknotes) to achieve their goals. Educators and parents don’t place enough value on work ethic, attendance, and dedicated participation — critically helpful tools for today’s workplace.
Do you recognize this achievement-first mentality in yourself at work? If so, it’s time to redefine success. Try this: when you find yourself worrying about hitting your sales target, the number on your paycheck, or that elusive promotion, stop yourself. See yourself thinking about the end result and redirect your attention back to the tasks at hand — the ones that, if done well, lead to your goals.
If you’ve done all you can and still aren’t achieving your goals, you can take pride in your effort. Plus, you’ll have more information — those steps were not the right ones to help you achieve your goals. Ask yourself: why else might by goals be out of reach? Then adopt new behaviors (e.g. look for new clients or ask your boss for help) or make informed decisions about your career and future
(e.g. leave your current employer or switch positions).
#2: No, you can’t compete with some people, and that’s ok. This is about YOUR journey.
Not everyone is intended to be a CEO, a startup genius or an Instagram personality. Don’t beat yourself up. If you had a calling toward any of those things, you’d probably already be doing it.
There’s some idea going around that having a balanced, functional, “normal” life is somehow boring or less than. We constantly and unfairly compare ourselves to others’ best lives they advertise on Facebook and Instagram, and we glorify those in the spotlight, getting attention via clicks, likes, shares, etc. And then there’s that rockstar employee in your office. He’s the first one in and the last one out, and even does your work on the weekends. It’s no surprise he got that promotion over you, right? Ugh.
It sucks. There will always be someone who has more time, more energy, more ambition … and that’s why you have to tune it out and repeat this to yourself: “It’s not fair to compare.”
You are on YOUR OWN JOURNEY. You have your own unique and valid values, interests, and ambitions and it’s probably time to define them, live by them, and revel in your success of them. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for a balanced, satisfying life if that’s what’s important to you — acknowledge and then dismiss the voice that says, “You’re not successful,” just because you’re not going viral.
#3: Your career is PART of you, not all of you.
I talk to so many young people who experience a rude awakening upon entering the workplace. “Wasn’t this supposed to be the source of all satisfaction and identity? Why am I so unfulfilled?”
No wonder they’re confused with all the fuss parents, teachers and society make about career: “What are you going to be? What’s your major? Are you going to be a lawyer/doctor like your mom?” It’s great we want our kids to be productive members of society and we don’t want them to feel limited, but we also need to remind them that career is only one part of their identity. There are so many other aspects to life that, when combined, make a whole person.
If you’re struggling to feel job satisfaction, remember your career is not supposed to be your SOLE source of happiness. You can succeed in all different areas of your life: family, relationships, hobbies/talents, friendships, emotional health, spirituality, etc. Take a step back and look at your life as a whole. Maybe, after some reflection, you’ll realize you and your job don’t need fixing.
#4: College is no longer the only way to succeed.
There’s an upheaval of the way things were. The decades-old idea was, ”Go to college to succeed.” This is no longer true. Or, at least, it’s not the ONLY way to succeed. In fact, college is becoming less and less an indicator of success — after all, there are doctors who can’t afford a decent house and lawyers facing debt. “Successful” people come in all shapes and sizes.
The bigger indicator of success? Liking what you do. If you enjoy what you do — if it’s a skill or something that comes natural — you will most likely succeed. And maybe it’s not one thing you do but the combination of skills you offer in a unique way that’s your ticket.
To find the job that’s just right for you, examine what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing. Then study that or look for mentors doing the same thing. When you’re working in service of your highest potential, your highest potential appears. Simple as that.
While your career is important — we all have to pay bills, after all — there’s more to life. I hope these four tips will help you redefine success to make more of your career and life. If you still struggle to feel your worth in the workplace and beyond, there may be more than meets the eye to your mental health and we’re here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.
To your emotional health,