Americans nearly and sometimes successfully work themselves to death. It's a rat race. No doubt about it. Working in an office with even just one other person is political, strategic, and competitive. Some may thrive in this environment. Some may lap it up and thrill at the prospect of working extra hard to rise above and "win"...70 hours a week including weekends and holidays, showing up early, leaving late, eating at the desk, and "holding it" longer than any bladder should.
"Millennials, born between 1979 and 1994 (citation), have been described in both the popular literature and the popular press ... as the “Look at Me” generation, implying that they are overly self-confident and self-absorbed (citation). They also have been depicted as lacking in loyalty and work ethic (citation).” ―Karen K. Myers and Kamyab Sadaghiani, J Bus Psychol. 2010 Jun.
How many times in our lives have we heard the sage advice from doctors, life coaches, scientists, and pretty much anyone with a keyboard to slow down, take a breath, go for a walk, smell those roses...blah, blah, blah, right? I mean it must be blah, blah, blah because apparently it's not actually what we are supposed to do.
“The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." -- Stephen Covey
Millennials take a lot of heat. Admittedly, some points of observation I agree with and I find myself also occasionally rolling me eyes along with everyone else. (Get off my lawn!!!) One thing I've heard over and over that really irks me, though, is the idea that they are lazy and don't put in the hard hours at their jobs, which translates to poor workers. The hypocrisy is stunning. It seems they are finally doing exactly what everyone delivering a graduation speech tells them to do: Live Life Better. i.e. don't spend it under a pile of papers in a stuffy office eating Doritos and Diet Coke.
"More than a thousand chief financial officers worldwide gave their opinions about millennials in the survey, conducted by Duke University and CFO Magazine...More than half of CFOs thought that millennials were less loyal to their companies, while... 27 percent said millennials are more interested in their own personal development than they are in the company." --By Kim Peterson, MoneyWatch, December 10, 2014
I love that the message of a work/life balance is finally sinking in. People are, en masse, taking a stand and setting boundaries, making meaningful priorities and sticking to them. They may not even know what they're doing (for all of us). Thank you, Millennials. This is what needed to happen - a whole generation jumping at the same time. Otherwise, the fear of falling behind and losing the game would prevent people from actually following the emphatic advice to nurture relationships, volunteer in our communities, and take good care of ourselves -- supposedly the things that REALLY matter.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." – Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Speech, 2005
So, help, what's it going to be? Are all those memes, daily calendar quotes, Oprah interviews and, yes, commencement speeches just lip service, or are we actually allowed to take them to heart without being criticized for it?