As millennials, we reject conventional wisdom. We create lives that are built around our lifestyles of traveling, food, family and fun. Not around our careers. We want to live our dream lives now, not when we retire.
Millennials ask the question why. Why do I have to work a 9 to 5? Why do I have to trade my time for money? Why can’t I have fun and be successful? Why can’t I get my noise pierced? Why is curly hair unprofessional? Wait, why am I not allowed to be happy? Says who?
And when you question the status quo, you are going to get criticized. Some call us the spoiled, -participation-trophy-getting generation. We are often labeled as entitled-job-quitting, and lazy. (To be fair, I have quit a job, but I am NOT lazy). Seriously, the Urban Dictionary definition of “millennial” is just dripping with sarcasm, annoyance, and pure disdain. And honestly, I get it. I can only imagine what it feels like to work at the same job for 15 years and have some young kid waltz in, work for a few years, make more money than me, and then dip because she needed more vacation time.
By definition, a millennial is someone who is born between 1982 and 1994. But here is a secret, you do not have to be born during a certain year to claim the millennial lifestyle. Anyone, at any age, can have the millennial mindset. Don’t hate us, join us! Here are four rules you can break so you can be on your way to living the millennial lifestyle. After all, breaking rules is an essential part of being a millennial.
You can start working in the U.S. when you turn 16 years old. The full retirement age—the age at which you can receive 100% of your social security benefits—is 66. So, after 50 years of working, you can finally retire, and begin to live your ideal life without worrying about earning money. One problem: the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 79.6 years old. So on average, you only have 13 years to live your life.
For millennials, this math just doesn’t add up. We aren’t going to spend 50 years working for a job that makes us miserable, looking forward to retirement as the salvation. As the Holy Grail. We want our work to be fulfilling now, so that the idea of not doing it, in some capacity, just sounds absurd. And because our work is fulfilling, we don’t have to wait to live. We travel now, because the world isn’t going to see itself. We invest our time, money, and energy in the things that bring us happiness now, because why wait? If you want to live like a millennial, stop making excuses, stop waiting on retirement, and start doing what sets your soul on fire. Now. Forget retirement. Live full now.
Millennials reject that perception is reality. It takes a lot of effort to control how others perceive, think about, or understand you. And trying to control someone else’s thoughts and judgments is a full time job. Millennials reject the idea that you must dress a certain way, talk a certain way, and work a certain way to be accepted by others. We will not allow how others view our choices or our decisions define us. Your perception of me is not my reality. I get to shape my own reality, sorry. I get to wear crop tops, get tattoos, and pierce my noise and still label myself a professional. We realized that clothes, hair styles, and other lifestyle choices have nothing to do with the essence of a person. We learned to stop judging a book by its cover, and we empowered each other to follow our hearts and do what we want. We reject the idea that you need to look “professional” to be taken seriously. We realize that clothes, hair styles, and other lifestyle choices have nothing to do with the essence of a person. We reject the idea that we all have to look the same, and dress the same, and act the same. We embrace individuality.
We grew up on happy meals, large sodas, fruit roll-ups, and cool ranch Doritos. Our favorite foods were filled with sugar, deep fried, or so overly processed that we couldn’t even identify what food it was originally made of. Like really, what is an oreo? But as we have grown up, we quickly realized that drinking soda and eating fast and processed food are perhaps the worst things we could do for our health. Millennials value living healthy and active lifestyles. We incorporate movement into our daily lives, no matter if we yogis, cyclist, rock-climbers, or runners. Movement is an important part of our lives. If you want a millennial lifestyle, you have to eat like a millennial. And we eat organic, clean, farm-to-table, plant-based, free-range, wild-caught food. And a lot of us don’t even eat meat, vegetarians and pescatarians are on the rise. We like our food to come from farms, not from factories. Better yet, we like to meet the farmer, why do you think we love Farmer’s Markets?
As millennials, we put all of our stock in being happy. And I know, I know, it can be annoying. Because we leave jobs, marriages, and even quit college trying to find it. We may come off as being flaky or noncommittal, but happiness is just that important to us. We won’t trade money for happiness, and neither should you. I recognize that many people do not even know what happiness is, and they often confuse joy with happiness. But happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, acceptance, gratitude, and grace. Happiness is a personal journey of being the best version of yourself. Happiness is not looking to blame others for your situation, but to start evaluating your own contributions to your destiny. So the next time you want to criticize a millennial for coming into work late, ask yourself why are you so mad?