Some view our generation as self-absorbed, obsessed with instant gratification, and likely to hop from job to job in search of something better. Others (the minority, sadly) celebrate our passion for learning, optimism, and love of service.
As millennials, we’ve had to reconcile the “You can be anything you want!” mantra of our upbringings with a struggling job market. The U.S. Council of Economic Advisers reports that, while we’re facing the lingering effects of a recession, we’re also getting married later and moving more frequently than our predecessors.
While millennial life isn’t a cakewalk, it doesn’t mean that we can’t be happy, healthy, and successful. It just takes some creativity and conscientious living. Curious about what secrets to success my fellow millennials live by, I took my question to one place where millennials rule: social media. Below, four women share their secrets to living a happy and healthy millennial life.
01. Stay Connected to Family
The fast-paced nature of this era of life and the challenge of coordinating everyone’s schedules makes it difficult to see family on a regular basis. But investing in your relationship with your family (no matter how close or far you live) is an important part of your well-being.
Family is your support network at an age where we experience the most developmental changes in our life. PBS reports that research identified close relationships as a key ingredient to happiness. Katie, a college student, shares that despite her busy schedule, she makes sure she stays connected to her family.
“I call my mom every other day. We have a very close relationship, and that has made all the difference,” Katie says. She notes that her mom “keeps me grounded but also encourages me when I need it.” Your family is there when you need to vent, bounce ideas, celebrate successes, or mourn failures. Take a page from Katie’s book, and make a pact to nurture your relationships with your family. Armed with smartphones and social media, it has never been easier.
02. Appreciate the Here and Now
Being connected makes life easier in many ways, but it can also distract us from the wonder of life happening around us. In the midst of working toward our big dreams and goals, we can forget to practice self-care. A lot of millennials are guilty of wishing that life would hurry up so that we can get to living our “dream life.” But in doing so, we risk not appreciating the hurdles as tools that hone us into the better people we’ll be five, ten, or fifty years down the line. Take time to reflect and find happiness whatever your state in life.
Practice gratitude for what you have now (even while you are still working toward your goals). “You can be happy being young and single,” says Kathleen, a teacher and mom of two in her mid-twenties. “You can be happy being young and married with kids. It’s a choice to see the good in your circumstances and enjoy each phase while it lasts.” So embrace being single, or make the most of your life as a new mom. Live for today!
Whether it’s taking a walk, journaling, practicing gratitude, or hitting the gym, taking the time to invest in your well-being will do wonders for your mental health. Research reported in Scientific American shows, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”
03. Find the Value in Hard Work
In a world of instant social media gratification (think YouTube stardom and college student start-ups turned billion-dollar ventures), the value of hard work is often hidden and forgotten. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting to move up the corporate ladder at a breakneck pace or wishing you could achieve your dreams with minimal effort. But nothing beats putting your best effort forward, along with hearty doses of patience and perseverance.
Sure, it seems unfair that others have “made it” while the rest of us toil along. “Getting caught up in things being ‘fair’ just frustrates people around you,” Kathleen says. “But working hard regardless of whether it seems like your work is being recognized will pay off.”
Courtney*, another mid-twenties millennial working in sales, agrees, saying, “There is value in ‘putting down roots,’ investing the time it takes to truly learn a job well, and growing into a professional the organic way rather than trying to parkour my way to the top.”
That you are willing to work hard consistently shows that you aren’t afraid to tackle difficult tasks or work through tough issues that don’t have a quick solution. It’s the real (and, in our opinion, truly fulfilling) way to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.
04. Diversify Your Life
The ability to recognize that your job is not the sole determinant of your self-worth (even if it feels like it sometimes) is key to being a truly happy millennial. Make an effort to schedule time with friends, try out a new hobby, or volunteer so that you aren’t only defined by what you do 9 to 5. Let’s face it: Most of us are still in our first or second job, and that means the job is probably less than ideal. But that’s no excuse to feel down about everything.
It’s tempting to get cozy on the couch with Netflix when life gets lonely, tough, or uncomfortable. But Netflix won’t move you closer to your goals (unless your life goals include watching every episode of Gilmore Girls twice). Courtney tries to volunteer regularly, “not only for personal sanity but also to remind myself that my job is not my everything.”
Veronica*, a mid-twenties millennial working in marketing, explains, “You won’t get opportunities to grow if you don’t constantly challenge yourself. Try doing one thing each day that scares or excites you. You might not do it every day, but even once a week is better than nothing.”
Courtney says, “Getting involved in a non-industry-related endeavor that serves others is a prime opportunity to temper my wild passions and remind myself that the world is larger than me and my concerns.” Reminding yourself that you are part of something larger helps keep you grounded.
Embrace the challenge of being a happy, healthy millennial. Work hard, but give yourself a break. Remind yourself that you’re more than your schedule. Challenge yourself to overcome your fears. Stay close to your family. With these ingredients, you can find a formula for success that works for you and make a commitment to implement it. As millennials, we have a lot going for us. Let’s make the best we can of it.
*Name has been changed.
Photo Credit: Sara Kiesling