Many Millennials entered the workforce caught between the challenges of starting a career in a down economy and the expectation that rewards and achievements would come as easily as they had throughout their lives. Millennials are perhaps the most criticized generation of all time, but it’s not because they don’t understand how the “real world” works. It’s because the real world has changed before their eyes.
The good news is that Millennials still believe they can make a difference. They believe in their personal value, and they don’t define success as past generations have. They want a life that is characterized by creativity, social recognition, and personal happiness rather than material things, and they want to build this life on their own terms.
Nearly 60 percent of Millennials consider themselves entrepreneurs, and 71 percent of Millennials with “regular” jobs would prefer to quit and work for themselves. Unlike their contemporaries, money is not the primary motivator; rather, it’s the freedom to be their own boss and choose projects that bring them happiness and personal recognition.
To Millennials, DIY Success Is Creative
Three years ago, 26-year-old Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz became the youngest self-made billionaire. He earned his success by revolutionizing an already revolutionary technology: the Internet.
Millennial entrepreneurs like Moskovitz would much rather risk a new path than settle for the traditional route. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it” no longer applies. Millennials are a maker generation — and they want to make their mark on the world.
They also want to feel unique. They want to have their own personal style, they seek to be different, and they want to be recognized by others for the value that they alone can provide. Millennials’ work satisfaction is directly tied to these feelings of uniqueness.
You can redefine success for yourself by drawing out your most unique qualities and asking, “During what percentage of my day am I using these qualities?”
If you find that you’re not utilizing your unique qualities enough, incorporate them into more of your day-to-day tasks. You’ll see an improvement in your creativity and feel more fulfilled by what you do.
DIY Success Is Social
Millennials also value recognition. In 2012, South Korean pop star Psy broke the all-time record for most views on YouTube. His music video, “Gangnam Style,” has been viewed more than 1.9 billion times. That’s a kind of social currency that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. Even today, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s a lot of people seeking recognition from their peers.
However, social values go beyond “likes” and retweets. The Millennial entrepreneurs I interact with value team success over individual success. In short, they want to hang out with people who bring positive energy into their lives. They focus on not only hiring candidates who are highly qualified, but also on hiring those who will enhance company culture and make the office a better place to be every day.
To feel more “social” success, make a list of people you want to associate yourself with. Then, make a list of people you don’t want to be associated with. Remove the latter group of people from your life. If they work at your company, it may be time to ask yourself why.
DIY Success Is About Being Happy
The popularity of books like “The 4-Hour Workweek” reveals that Millennials are willing to “hack” their way to happiness. The old suits-in-summer business traditions are headed out the door. Millennial entrepreneurs are looking to create relaxed business cultures.
A happy, balanced life does not happen by accident — especially for an ambitious entrepreneur. If you aren’t doing what you’re passionate about, you will burn out fast.
List your top 10 passions, and rank them from the ones you’re most passionate about to least. Take your top passion, and set a specific goal. Remind yourself of your true passions on a regular basis, and make sure your time and energy are going into what you care about most.
Just because your vision of success might not include a dollar sign at the top doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a concrete, detailed plan. Internalize your vision of success, identify the necessary steps to get there, and break those steps down into quarters, months, weeks, and days.
Once you’ve developed a plan, you can set that plan into motion. By following your passions, surrounding yourself with people who make you better, and utilizing your unique strengths every day, you’ll feel more fulfilled by your business and, ultimately, be more successful.