Research from multiple sources claims that the American Dream is becoming out of reach. But what does it mean for the future?
Technology advancements in the past 50 years have been unprecedented. The age of the Internet has made us more globally connected than ever before.
The sharing economy fueled by startups like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb is the present and seems primed to grow more and more into the future.
Add to that, there is research from multiple sources claiming and illustrating that the American Dream is becoming out of reach.
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In large part, Millennials are growing into a world that has been presented to them through economic disruption, unprecedented technological innovation and a dramatically interconnected world (dramatic as compared to any time in previous recorded history). I’m sorry to say it, but the world has changed, and it’s not because of the Millennials.
Millennial is actually a term used to describe a way of living and being in the world today based on the way the world has evolved, but it is falsely ascribed to a group of people based on their age.
I personally know many Millennials and they are of varying ages, cultural backgrounds and professions. They are the people who are most in tune with the times, and most driven toward maximizing their opportunities today to create the future. They are the people least concerned with upholding decrepit traditions of old, which no longer serve us or hold a place in society. They are the people least fearful of change, and most able to embrace the truth of the present.
Some of the stereotypes have been wrongly aimed from people looking to find things to criticize rather than to look for a root cause. Young people in America and globally today have helped fuel the startup economy because it has become a necessity for our own economic prosperity and longevity.
With disruption occurring in every traditionally stable industry in which one would typically find people employed with for life, the norm of frequent job changes exists due to necessity. It exists because we have seen the success of our predecessors in innovating, disrupting, in creating new things. And we have seen the failure of long-standing companies to continue to flourish:
"Even young people who secure permanent roles know that “jobs for life” are a thing of the past. They realize they could be laid off in another crisis and they know technology will disrupt the labor market in unpredictable ways. They also know they will need to work for longer than their parents because pensions will not go as far.
Mara Swan, an executive vice president at ManpowerGroup, reckons Millennials deal with these realities by finding other ways to keep themselves secure. Because they cannot rely on indefinite jobs, they are anxious about promotion and acquiring new skills to make sure they remain marketable in the fast-changing economy.
"It’s no surprise they’ve redefined what security means for them because they can’t count on the company to provide it," she says. "It is when young people fear they are stagnating and not learning anything new that they switch employers," she adds.
Millennials are not the flighty freedom seekers that mythology would have us believe. When they do quit, it is probably because they want more job security, not less.
Social tools are reshaping organizations, performance reviews are being rethought and redelivered in innovative ways, and even organizational structures are being reconsidered. It’s those on the outside of these developments who appear most perplexed looking in they ascribe the change to the newbies, rather than taking a look at the overall systems, which have been shifting for years and years.
The way we live, communicate, and govern is rapidly progressing, and sometimes during such a dramatic shift things get lost in translation. People take things personally. The revolution is not personal; I promise that the younger generation is not a bratty, self-absorbed group looking to wield power before their time. To illustrate further:
"The revolution here is from hierarchical to lateral power. That's the power shift. So increasingly a younger generation that's grown up on the internet and now increasingly distributing renewable energies, they're measuring politics in terms of a struggle between centralized, hierarchical, top-down and closed and proprietary, versus distributed, open, collaborative, transparent. This shift, from hierarchical to lateral power, is going to change the way we live, the way we educate our children and the way we govern the world". - Jeremy Rifkin
The idea is not that this generation was born wanting different things, but rather, humanity has evolved to a state beyond seeking simply esteem needs as the basis for a successful life. We were born into that, and thus we are pushing actualization further and faster than it has been pushed before.
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People who strongly value the pursuit of wealth and possessions report lower psychological well-being than those who are less concerned with such aims...The Millennial generation, deeply affected by the Great Recession and a stagnant global economy, has begun to shift its psychic priorities from material success to living a meaningful existence. - Jeremy Rifkin