The Millennial generation, lovers of Facebook, the selfie, and on-demand technology, view the world through a different lens. And when it comes to the idea of the American dream, this is no exception. Yes, a successful career, a loving family and financial security are still as desired by millennials as their predecessors. But their means of achieving these successes is changing quite a bit. In fact, they may think these achievements look entirely different than their parents did.
The Millennial Career Dream
While the Baby Boomers and Generation X sought to earn a good wage and advance in their career, millennials are diving a little deeper. Facing the tragedy of September 11th, increasing gun violence, and the War on Terror, this generation is seeking to make a change. No longer is a paycheck enough to keep them satisfied at their nine-to-five. More important to these echo-boomers is making a difference in the world around them and being happy with their work. Sounds simple, but like many things, a closer look proves satisfaction in the workplace is more complex than it appears.
The Huffington Post reports that 67 percent of millennials want to be entrepreneurs. This entrepreneurial spirit is ingrained in this generation, giving them a greater appreciation for independence and autonomy. To them, a successful career is defined by freedom and opportunity to grow and learn. This, however, is not in the traditional corner-office type of way. Job titles and fancy views aren’t enough to keep them satisfied. But give them a chance to learn something new and change the world, and you will discover what they can accomplish.
The Millennial Family Dream
The American dream, however, goes beyond just having a career. For many, this ideal also encompasses strong family values and creating a better life for the next generation. This is a far cry from the stereotyped “Me Generation” . But just because millennials aren’t having kids right now doesn’t mean they never will, says an article in Bloomberg.
PEW Research Center reported in 2013 that fewer than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family. Because millennials have grown up in these non-traditional environments, many are waiting to start their families until they are emotionally and financially ready in order to provide a more stable and sustainable family environment. Which often means starting a family later in life. But, according to a Gallup survey, only 5% of Americans say they don’t want kids, up only 1% from 1990. So just because they aren’t married by 30, doesn’t mean they never get married. It just might take them a little longer than it did in the 70’s.
The Millennial Financial Dream
Another possible reason millennials are waiting to start a family is due to an increase in financial problems. While the “rags to riches” stories of generations past may be lost on these Americans, they are no strangers to financial hardship. Graduating in the middle of the recession, this generation has struggled to find jobs and, adding insult to injury, battled the weight of student loan debt. For that reason, financial security ranks high among the priorities of millennials. Not for the purpose of putting a car in the garage or buying that house with the white picket fence, but for many millennials the goal is financial freedom from the overwhelming debts.
Understanding how millennials view the world and their hopes for the future will provide insights into our workplaces and our homes. While the American Dream lives on in this generation, the methods and goals have changed quite a bit. One thing, however, will never change: the American Dream is what drives this country and will continue to do so for generations to come.