WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM MIL­LEN­NI­ALS Far­rah Storr says it’s a lot!

If you’re in­clined to shake your head at the twenty-some­things in your life, it’s time to have a re­think. Ac­cord­ing to mag­a­zine editor Far­rah Storr, they are a savvy, re­silient bunch who can teach us a thing or two about mul­ti­task­ing

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents -

When was the last time you rolled your eyes at a mil­len­nial? When did you last dis­miss them as self­ish, en­ti­tled and hav­ing the nar­cis­sis­tic ten­den­cies of a Greek god? Have you ever, whis­per it, thought twice about hir­ing one be­cause you feared their rep­u­ta­tion as hus­tling em­ploy­ees who’d jet­ti­son col­leagues off the pro­fes­sional cliff edge at the hint of a pro­mo­tion? If you’re nod­ding along, then I hear you – I used to feel the same.

Hav­ing spent the last three years study­ing and serv­ing this gen­er­a­tion as editor-in-chief of Cos­mopoli­tan, I have be­gun to see an­other, far-more-in­trigu­ing side to them. They are not, in fact, the frag­ile ‘Gen­er­a­tion Snowflake’ that’s of­ten de­picted – with their

branded so­cial plat­forms (though they do have those, but we’ll come to that) and soar­ing self-es­teem – but a hard-served group of young men, women and ev­ery­thing in be­tween (be­cause they are very clear on the fact that gen­der and sex­u­al­ity are not as bi­nary as we all thought) who have blos­somed into one of the tough­est and most wily gen­er­a­tions ever. Gen­er­ally born be­tween 1981 and 1996 (al­though it’s dif­fi­cult to pin down pre­cisely), life has thrown them an enor­mous amount of dis­com­fort: a gi­gan­tic fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the ero­sion of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and lit­tle hope of a mort­gage, pen­sion and pretty much ev­ery other as­set we take for granted. But, as I dis­cov­ered when writ­ing my book, The Dis­com­fort Zone, the dis­com­fort they have been left to face is the very thing that brings in­no­va­tion, strength and, ul­ti­mately, suc­cess.

That means there’s a lot you can learn from mil­len­ni­als – and not just how to take a bet­ter-qual­ity selfie.

They ask for what they want

Ask­ing for (and get­ting) what you want is built into the DNA of Western civil­i­sa­tion. Back when we were Greeks work­ing the scrubby land of the Aegean, we traded olive oil, fish and what­ever else we could find to get along and get ahead. And yet you, me and al­most ev­ery­one I know born be­fore 1981 are ter­ri­ble at ask­ing for what we want. We pre­fer to wait and be asked. I have for­got­ten the num­ber of times I’ve spied a pro­mo­tion on the hori­zon but waited for the ac­qui­es­cent nod be­fore pop­ping my hat in the ring. Mil­len­ni­als don’t wait to be asked. They haven’t got time. They un­der­stand it’s a com­pet­i­tive market out there and if you ask, in the right way, you get. The right way is by ‘hus­tling’. Hus­tling is not short­hand for be­ing bor­der­line crim­i­nal. The 2018 def­i­ni­tion of ‘hus­tling’ (mil­len­ni­als love that word, by the way) is far smarter. It’s about ask­ing for what you want while of­fer­ing some­thing of equal or bet­ter value. I see this all the time. It’s not un­usual for me to find job ap­pli­ca­tions that come with hand­writ­ten notes, boxes of cakes, painstak­ingly drawn por­traits of me (hands down, the hon­est truth) as well as more mag­a­zine ideas than I could come up with in an en­tire month. They don’t sim­ply send a CV and wait for a call. They fol­low up in cre­ative ways, pop­ping up on your In­sta­gram feed with smart ob­ser­va­tions about the blurry pic­ture of a sun­flower you just posted. They will pur­sue you – on Linkedin, Twit­ter – ap­pear­ing like charm­ing wild­flow­ers in your path so you can never not take no­tice. It is very clever and it is worth tak­ing note.

They call out in­jus­tice

It’s easy to sit back and let bad things hap­pen, far harder to stand in the pit of dis­com­fort and speak out, even if that means po­ten­tial alien­ation from your peers. Mil­len­ni­als fight against bi­ol­ogy in this way – af­ter all, back when we were cave peo­ple hud­dled round the camp­fire, sur­vival was about stay­ing with the group at all costs. Which means we’re nat­u­rally very bad at speak­ing up if it means go­ing against pop­u­lar opin­ion. Mil­len­ni­als do it re­gard­less. So­cial me­dia makes it eas­ier, of course. Cer­tainly enough for them to test the wa­ters to see if there are other con­sent­ing voices out there will­ing to make a stand. That is why we have had such move­ments as The Women’s March and #Me­too. They know how to mo­ti­vate a po­lit­i­cal move­ment with stealth, ef­fec­tive­ness and a smart hash­tag.

They can mul­ti­task

Mul­ti­task­ing is a mil­len­nial art. They are, af­ter all, the ones that came up with the port­fo­lio ca­reer – juggling sev­eral dif­fer­ent jobs at once and yet not be­ing de­fined by one. That’s not born out of greed, by the way, but ne­ces­sity. In a deeply un­cer­tain eco­nomic cli­mate, ev­ery­one needs back up. We wait to be bril­liant at some­thing be­fore we af­fix the word ‘pro­fes­sional’ to it. They just go with it, re­al­is­ing the sad truth that ev­ery­one at the top is wing­ing it, so they might as well, too. So, that art course you did back in 2001? That means you can start call­ing your­self a painter and sell­ing stuff on Etsy. Af­ter all, that’s what a mil­len­nial would do.

They are health ob­sessed

Even mil­len­ni­als would pre­fer a milk­shake to a pro­tein shake. So why, then, do they milk nuts, eat ve­gan and know 115 dif­fer­ent ways to eat an av­o­cado? Be­cause health rep­re­sents sta­tus. They don’t have money but they can have a six-pack if they put in enough hours at the gym. They’ve also de­vised new and in­ven­tive ways to make health an as­pi­ra­tion rather than a chore. Look! Add ca­cao pow­der to mashed av­o­cado and you have choco­late mousse! Call a juice that looks like the in­side of a sep­tic tank Green God­dess and it’s palat­able. Call health ‘well­ness’ and it looks more en­tic­ing. My ad­vice to you? Do yoga by can­dle­light, serve your antacids in a pink glass and call it The Diges­tion Doyenne. Buy the nicest gym gear imag­in­able, so that ‘when you’re sweat­ing like a pig, at least you look like a fox’. (And that, by the way, is a mantra mil­len­ni­als like to use. A lot).

They don’t drink

Okay, this isn’t tech­ni­cally true, but they drink a lot less than we do. There are lots of rea­sons for this: their ob­ses­sion with health, their ob­ses­sion with pro­fes­sion­al­ism (they saw their boss overdo it at work drinks – they never want to be that per­son), they all have about seven jobs, which means hang­overs have no place in their sched­ule. Be­sides, they have found in­ven­tive ways to repli­cate the taste of booze with­out the brain-dim­ming ef­fects. They love non­al­co­holic spirit drink Seedlip (add a cou­ple of freshly popped peas as a gar­nish and fin­ish with an In­sta­gram post), drink­ing vine­gars (which are fer­mented so dou­ble as a health elixir!) and Gor­don’s Ul­tra-low Al­co­hol gin and tonic drink.

They date ‘openly’

Thanks to Tin­der and other dat­ing apps, mil­len­ni­als will prob­a­bly meet their sig­nif­i­cant other on­line. Be­fore then, though, they keep their op­tions open. Sex be­fore com­mit­ment is the norm. As is dat­ing widely and si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Sev­eral part­ners on the go at once? Ab­so­lutely fine. Whereas we would plough sev­eral weeks into one per­son be­fore call­ing it quits, mil­len­ni­als know time is pre­cious. Bet­ter to road test all the goods at once, then con­firm full com­mit­ment with one cho­sen part­ner af­ter a cou­ple of weeks. ◆ The Dis­com­fort Zone: How To Get What You Want By Liv­ing Fear­lessly by Far­rah Storr (Pi­atkus, out now)

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