Want a fulfilling life? Grow up!

To achieve true happiness, millennials must embrace each new age.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Several weekends ago, I was home in Green Bay with family members playing a card game that asks different discussion questions. When my turn came around, I pulled a card that asked, “What is your ideal age?”

When we went around the circle, people cited a variety of ages. However, my favorite came from someone who always seems to have the right answers — my mom. She said that her current age was her favorite and that it always was, meaning each year has been her favorite year at that time.

She went on to explain that as you live your life, each year has things that are uniquely difficult, rewarding, and exciting. She was surprised at the number of people who, as they aged, dreaded their next birthday instead of embracing the new changes, opportunities, and adventures.

It is interesting to think about this idea in terms of generations. If you speak to baby boomers or others from older generations, you will often hear about how they feel they were made to “grow up” faster than younger generations. Out of necessity, they were forced to get jobs, get married, and start a family at a much younger age.

When I watch many of my millennial peers I see the opposite. We all know those people who, even though they are out of college and maybe even entering their 30s, are still reliving their high school glory days or refusing to enter adulthood. In a 2010 New York Times article, it was noted that millennials, as a generation, have notably pushed back each of the four main milestones of adulthood: completing school, leaving home, becoming independent, and having children.

Some blame delayed adulthood on coming of age in one of the worst economic recessions since the 1930s and being buried under mountains of student debt. That’s partly true, but a lot has to do with a lack of clear vision of where to go and what it will take to get there.

Moreover, we are afraid. Let me give you a personal example. If you had known the younger me, even up to a few years ago, it was no secret that I wasn’t a “baby person.” The thought of having someone 100% dependent on me was terrifying. It is still a running family joke that when I had to hold my godson during his baptism, I nearly sweat through my dress.



However, as I have gotten older and taken steps to overcome that fear, the idea of starting a family is much more appealing. I enjoyed where I was in my life, but also acknowledged that in order to be happy in the future, I wanted a family and would need to feel comfortable taking new risks that would also bring new rewards. Just weeks ago, I held my friend’s new baby, Aubrey (pictured), like a pro — no sweat!

What does this have to do with business? For millennials, work-life balance is becoming a more important area of focus. Our work and personal lives are blending more than ever before. In order to feel fulfilled in both life and career, we’ll need more direction. Taking steps into the unknown is scary, but the happiest people embrace the challenge.

Fast Track Action Items for November:
■ Take an assessment of where you are in life. I recommend a great resource called “Life Assessment” from The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. Get it for free at www.thecompoundeffect.com/free.
■ Develop a clear vision of where you want to go personally and professionally, and create action steps to set yourself up for success.
■ Acknowledge that change is scary but also necessary to achieve a fulfilling life at all ages. With research and conversations with family and friends who have been there and done that, get educated on topics that concern you.
■ Identify the biggest roadblocks you’re facing. What strategies are needed to reach your goals?

Email me at Jenna@JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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