Posted by Suzie Godlewski ● Jan 18, 2019 10:56:17 AM

Millennials: Take an Adult Gap Year

I want to talk to directly to millennials out there, from one millennial to another.

Millennials get a bad rap for being lazy, but the truth is we work hard, sometimes too hard. Companies today are smart. They give us free snacks, free booze, flexible working hours, and giant plush pillows to use as chairs. It’s even cozier than home. The environment around us invites us to stay, and we willingly accept the invite.

Screenshot 2018-12-31 at 9.16.03 PM

Unfortunately the byproduct of this feeding frenzy is two-fold. First, we find ourselves saying really ridiculous things like:

  • Thought leadership!
  • Let’s crush it!
  • Influencer!
  • Disrupt the market!
  • Robust marketing plan!

Let’s make one thing clear. Robust should only be used to describe full-bodied wines, not business strategies.

Second, and perhaps the most damaging is acute tunnel vision. Work sits at the end of the tunnel and we are running full speed towards it. Somehow work projects and sales quotas act as our our metrics of success, fulfillment, and happiness. If we fail at these then we’re failing at life. Work becomes everything.

Soon we can’t carry a conversation without including work talk. Pubs become platforms for vent sessions. Our colleagues are there with us, pouring pints and trading strategies. Our work colleagues become friends and our old friends... well, we haven’t seen those friends in a while. We’re too busy crushing it.

Hard pause. Hard pivot.

Now let’s play this out over a life time, getting a little deeper and a little more morbid.

You’re 95 and your sun is setting. Not surprisingly, you won’t be thinking fondly about all those wonderful business calls you crushed, all those projects you ditched your friends for to stay late to finish, or about that one email you sent that really made that prospect pay attention to your sales pitch. Those memories will be gone, like they never existed in the first place.

Instead you’ll be wishing you had made more time to see friends, thinking about what happened to so-and-so that you just somehow lost touch with, thinking about how you would have liked to take more chances, see more places, you just… just didn’t have the time. Your pillow is a podium for your head to shout is regrets, and these ones are miles deep.

Every last old person you talk with will tell you two things:

  1. Youth should never be wasted because you can never be young again and you don’t realize how great youth is until you’re old and you wake up feel like crap every goddamn day.
  2. Spend more time with friends and family and less time working because you will never get those moments back. Ever.

Old people will remind you that long-lasting fulfillment--the one that lulls them to sleep at night despite their joint pains and lingering staleness of their nightly Metamucil diet--is knowing their time on earth was spent wisely. Experiencing. Loving. Living. Because true fulfillment and a full heart--the long-lasting kind--comes from experiences and relationships with loved ones, not with clients.

Hard work matters. Being good at your job is fulfilling. Accomplishments on the job are important. But you can’t hang an email printout on your wall instead of a photo of that time you went snorkeling in Greece with your best friend and saw some really cool fish. I mean... you could, but that would make you either a serial killer or a really, really sad human being.

The moral of this fable: Go on an adventure, maybe bring a friend or two. Stop seeing obstacles and start seeing opportunities. This option to seek out new life and experiences is available anytime you want it and it’s always waiting. Start with a long weekend and then go for a week, a month, a year. No more stalling. Because you’re only young once and ending up on a hospital bed with a head full of regrets should be everyone’s greatest fear. It sure is mine.

Topics: Musings From The Road, Excursions, Inspiration for Adventure