Sverige and the Millennium Generation

This is a picture of a flag (obviously) from Halmstad, Sweden. I took a trip there with Brooke and my mother over the Thanksgiving holiday and I simply wanted to point out the fact that Halmstad is old. 700 years old this year to be exact.

Plenty happened on my trip overseas, but one consistent conversation addressed the Millennium generation which I may, or may not, be a part of depending on where you are reading about it. Some folks use 1976 as the starting point, while others begin as late as 1980-1982 (I was born in 1981). In any case, I am pretty close to the end of one generation (Generation X) and the beginning of another (Millennium generation).

Generation X was originally touted as the apathetic generation that had a rather pessimistic outlook on like (think grunge music), but obviously things change as these Xers grow old(er) and are no longer in the spotlight. Their priorities, in effect, change for the better it seems. However, I really want to speak about the Millennium generation.

The Millennium generation (MILL G) is starting to really enter the workforce and I think this is the first time that the world is starting to take notice of a generation that is exceptionally different from folks in our past.

The MILL G expects to be: paid more, promoted frequently (and within their first year of work), get more vacation, and have major flexibility when they are actually working. Additionally, and above all else, they want to be happy.

If you are well into your own career you might laugh and say "these guys and gals need to get real." You might well say that every day about everything depending on your level of cynicism. However, if enough people want something then who will be the one who's line of thinking is off?

I should add that this is what our new work force expects, not what they will get.

I really think the more important question is "why they expect this?" What makes them think that they can be happy, healthy and working 15 hours a week whenever the mood strikes?

I cannot answer that, but I can make my own observations.

Service is the major commodity in the U.S. No one is planning to work in a factory for 30 years with the same security that was provided some 30-50 years ago. Nor do they assume that they can have the same quality of life their parents provided them by doing the same things their parents did. The only way (they believe) to give their children the same life their parents provided them is to seek out more education, work more hours, and ultimately make more sacrifices.

I don't know that this is what will ultimately be required of everyone, but I do think it is a safe bet to assume that the status quo for most folks requires more input despite a static output. This leads most to start thinking primarily of themselves and less of everyone else. In other words, they can keep_their_quality of life so long as they avoid kids, wives/husbands, families, etc (especially if they love debt like most people in the generation seem to). Its the ME generation if nothing else. You are going to hear a lot of "What's in it for me?" questions for the next ten years. Relationships will ultimately be dependent on what "the other person is doing for me" instead what "I can do for them."

Triathlon does not only consume a lot of my time through training (and training prep time), it consumes all my time since my training is ultimately affected by how well I recover when not training. Essentially I am the peak of the ME generation.

Fortunately I'm fairly self-aware.

I figure that my own success generally relies on stopping myself from ever thinking that life is dependent on how fast I go (which is ironic in some ways). That can honestly be hard at times because it always clouds my mind no matter how far I try to separate myself from those thoughts. If I have to constantly worry about me, then its hard for me to give to others that need my support. Instead, I need to constantly ask myself how I can make my relationships better with my family, girlfriend, friends, employer, and sponsors. "What can I do for them?" instead of wondering what "they do for me."

Ultimately the people who are close to me in my life are what really matter. That is true even if it sounds painfully trite (and cheesy as far as I'm concerned).

I want to be happy like all the other MILL Gers and fortunately I found a line of work that brings me happiness even when its hard. Perhaps this is the compromise that will come about amongst the MILL Gers. A happy worker will be a hard worker. All human resource folks should take note. We could be the greatest thing to ever happen to the U.S. (and international) economy.

Or maybe we'll be the reason that the U.S. economy collapses. Whatever.