8 Things All My Millennial Friends Complain About—And How To Solve Them (Part 1)

Before I started this blog, a lot of my friends advised against the name. 

Moxie they liked fine; but "millennial" was a dirty word. They told me not to include it cause being one came with a bad rep.

It took me a long time to launch this site just because I was terrified that it was true, and that nobody would take me seriously.

 Just look at Schmidt!

Just look at Schmidt!

And then I realized: what's the big deal? It's a cool word (I like word play), and it's the term that unites us. It's simple, it's sticky, and honestly, it's neutral. It's only bad when you add your own meaning.

Personally, I love being a part of our generation: whether we're upholding the ideals of global citizenship or obsessing about contributing positive social impact, there's so much potential within us. 

And I started this site exactly because I believe in that potential.

Which is why I get so frustrated when we hold ourselves back with (what I view to be) pretty solvable problems.

Here's Part One of the 8 things that millennials (myself included!) have all complained about at one point—and how to fix them, one baby step at a time.

1. FOMO

What we complain about: Everyone I know has said some version of the following: how come X is more successful than me? How can Y afford to travel so often? And can I please just have Z's picture-perfect life? 😭

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Yes, fear of missing out has been hardwired in humans since ancient times, but social media's taken it to a totally different level. And since we're the only generation born alongside the internet, we have higher odds of overusing it—increasing our risk for depression and anxiety.

How to resolve it: Give yourself a legit social media cleanse. I gave myself one more than a year ago, and I never looked back.

A few things you can do? Delete the apps on your phone. Only view the Pages feed when you are on Facebook. Stash your phone away during meals. Focus on deepening your existing relationships—in person. View social media as a tool, not an extension of your identity. It's a long list that deserves a post of its own.

How this helped me: My mental chatter learned to quiet itself down. Why? Because I stopped wasting time wishing I had someone else's life, then used that time instead so I could work on actually liking my own.

It's freeing. You'll learn that the important news about people you care about will always find its way to you. And if it doesn't? Then it's a good gauge for re-assessing your relationships.

Your life will become a 1000% better when you learn to enjoy the moment for its own sake—not for some external validation via an Insta-heart.

2. "Not Being Paid to Do Something They Love"

What we complain about: Everyone I've encountered wishes they would find "their one true calling"/"dream job" because then they'd "never have to work a day in their lives." 

 Maybe if you say it enough it will come true?

Maybe if you say it enough it will come true?

How to resolve it: On a mental level, realize that this is an unhealthy ideal. For one thing, The End of History Illusion has shown that we humans perpetually "underestimate how much we continue to change."

In other words, your personality and priorities will still evolve as you grow older—just like your career choices. Thinking that there's only one path to make you fulfilled is unrealistic.

And two: there is no magic spell that instantly makes work void of negative emotions. That's why it's called work: sometimes, it will suck—even if you do find something you love.

Like Cal Newport says: don't fall for the passion trap. If you obsess about a dream job that's supposed to make you happy every minute, you're missing the point—and setting yourself up for disappointment in the process, too. 

How this helped me: This mental shift did wonders for me because it sobered me right up: yes, I wanted to leave my high-paying marketing job to pursue writing, entrepreneurship and tech. No, the path will not be predictable nor easy.

Rather than romanticize myself (and people like you) with the notion that I was "following my dreams", I actually buckled down and got to work. It's still a struggle, but it keeps me hungry and growing.

And instead of focusing on how this career shift makes me happy, all my energy centers on how to become better and more useful to others instead. 

3. Their Terrible/Stressful Jobs

What we complain about: I've spent many a phone call being on the receiving and giving end of this rant: "Work sucks," "My boss is driving me insane!" and my favorite: "Can we just marry rich so we never have to work?" 

 If you like it, maybe don't put a ring on it. Credit to  http://sandandglass.tumblr.com/

If you like it, maybe don't put a ring on it.
Credit to http://sandandglass.tumblr.com/

How to resolve it: There are two camps of people who rant about this: the ones who can't afford to lose their jobs (for example: crazy medical bills), and the ones who can.

Yet my question for both is the same: what are you gonna do about it? (This includes me btw. Yes, I rant to myself.)

Because ranting is cathartic, but it doesn't change things.

So if you can't afford to lose this job, have you tried asking for help from your boss—like budget for an intern? And if you don't like your boss, have you tried talking to them?

And if you can: have you tried making a pre-interview project? Leveraging your weak social ties to hear about unlisted opportunities? Cold-emailed a contact for a job lead? Talking to HR about about a role transfer?

If you haven't, then things will just stay the same. And every day you don't act is another day wasted.

How this helped me: My corporate job was one of high highs and low lows. I grew and learned so much in that role—but I never set boundaries for myself. I once wound up in the hospital out of exhaustion, and I routinely ate my stress away.

It took me re-reading a poem I wrote 3 years prior about how stuck I felt when I realized something had to change. 

A year later, I'm not yet near where I wanna be—but I can rest easy knowing I've put myself in the position to actually be closer to it, day by day.

4. Never Having Enough Time for X

What we complain about: Busyness has become a badge of honor. Everyone loves to talk about how full their schedules are.

Which is ironic because our generation wants to have it all–like having a great career, a hot body and interesting hobbies, for example.

Yet we always have the same excuse: 

 I couldn't help myself.

I couldn't help myself.

How to resolve it: First of all, the wise old adage applies: it's not about having time, but making it that counts.

But aside from this, I would argue that the millennial drive plays a part: as a very ambitious bunch, we set unrealistic goals for ourselves. And it's these unrealistic goals holding us back in the first place.

Here's an example: whenever I tell people that I read 3 books a month, I always get the same reaction: "Huh? You have so much time! I could never read that much."

Which is where I gently remind them: actually our scheds are equally full. It's just that I sneak my reading in one bit at a time: a little before I sleep, a bunch during lunch, and a lot more on the toilet. 😜

The problem is, people instantly wanna do what I do. And the goal gets so large they psych themselves out of actually trying. 

One of my favorite authors, Charles Duhigg, talks about these large goals in Smarter, Better, Faster:

Studies show that if a stretch goal is audacious, it can spark innovation. [Yet] it can also cause panic and convince people that success is impossible because the goal is too big.

There's a fine line between an ambition that helps people achieve something amazing and one that crushes morale. For a stretch goal to inspire, it often needs to be paired with something like the SMART system.

For me, my system involved always placing a book in my bag before leaving the house then mentally training myself to choose it over a phone when I had down time.

For others, it's sleeping in their gym clothes so they can go straight to working out first thing in the morning.

Find the system that gamifies your success—then never use "not enough time" as a reason ever again.

How this helped me: This focus on creating a SMART system did wonders for me these past 10 months: most concretely, I lost 25 pounds & 12% body fat while gaining muscle. I've got a ways to go, but I'm getting there.

ON A FINAL NOTE

I recognize that everyone—millennial or otherwise—is a work in progress. I know I always will be—which is why I aim to make my tips concrete, doable and fun!

If what I wrote is helpful to you in any way, I'd love it if you could subscribe below. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Erica Trinidad