March 2, 2017
We're the generation which became accustomed to only seeing and hearing what makes us feel good. However, is this approach harming our careers?
As the stigma around therapy and counselling starts to fall away, more and more people are seeking out life coaches to help make sense of their lives; Millennials are especially big on the idea.
And why wouldn’t we be? Our impatient, poorly-paid, Instagram-obsessed generation is existing in two places at once; online and offline. We constantly compare ourselves to others and forget that what we see on a screen isn’t necessarily what’s happening in real life.
Hearing things which make us feel good about ourselves is wonderful - it’s balm for the soul - but don’t forget that anyone can tell us we’re going to be absolutely fine. It’s meaningless. And when it comes to the cut-throat world of employment and careers, your therapist's advice may jarr horribly with what you boss tells you. You can't respond to a dressing-down with 'My therapist says I'm not ready to deal with your rage issues yet.' You can't refuse to attend a meeting because your chakras aren't properly aligned or last night's one-on-one has left you with 'space issues'.
As a generation, we are becoming unable to deal with confrontation, and work our way around conflict. We are unable to process the idea that failure might be our fault sometimes - and it could be affecting our jobs.
Realism - framed kindly - is vital to help us grow professionally and personally, as without getting a clear overview of our lives, we’ll not be able to find happiness. And that involves getting to grips with our emotions and why we feel the way we do.
A realistic approach is helpful because it allows you to engage with the world without blinkers on - you get a full, clear overview, no matter how annoying/potentially hurtful that might be, so you can make adjustments to your life knowing the full picture.
At this point in the game, you should have a prototype career mapped out in your head. It doesn't matter if it's half-baked, or a bit hazy around the edges - it just needs to be an idea you can draw inspiration from. As you go through your live, developing your idea of what a fun-filled, productive and fulfilling career looks like, you can chop and change your prototype. It's never set in stone. It's always changing, evolving and adapting to you - it's your guiding star to keep you on the right path. And the best part is, your prototype is dictated by what you feel. What feels good - and right - to you? What does your gut say is the true path forward for you - where do you feel you'd like to be in a decade?
How you feel dictates how you think, how you behave, what you say, and how you’ll see your future - and your prototype!
Being realistic about the dreams you have - and the things you don't want from your life - might sound like a conversation you don’t want to have, but it’s far more helpful than being told not to think about it, or worry about it later.
We live in an era of pointing the finger at others. If we take a tumble, it’s the council’s fault. If our party loses an election, we blame the press or the opposition. There is very little emphasis on taking responsibility and acknowledging your actions and behaviours are down to one person - you. You're the only person who is responsible for your actions, words, thoughts and feelings - and you're the one who decides what your life was when you look back as an older person.
Millennials are often accused of being unable to take positive reinforcement at work (that’s ‘criticism’, or maybe even being told off. It happens). Show you’re better than the rest. Ask for feedback. Explore ways to improve. Apologise. Move forward. Change and adjust your 'map' so it reflects what you want from life. Take feedback on the chin and use it to develop your career.
Positivity will only get you so far - there needs to be a healthy dollop of realism in the mix to help you build a decent career prototype, and make the most of your time in your first few jobs.
As always, we've distilled some points you should take away with you. Here's what you've got to remember...
1. Feeling good because you’ve been told you’re great by likeminded people is a brittle veneer which won’t last in the real world
2. Feeling good because you believe it deep down - because you’re at one with how you feel, what drives you, and accepting our strengths and weaknesses - is much more sustainable, and will give you the confidence to succeed
3. The protptype you develop for your career will always be in flux, and that's OK. As long as you're taking small, carefully-thought out steps towards your goal, that's OK. There's no rush - and your game plan will change.
4. The internet is a great place to surround yourself with people who have similar opinions, world views and ways of communicating. Remember it's just a facade, though - and the real world is much more of a mixed bag