No other generation has been poked and prodded as much as Millennials have. Researchers believe our diversity, openness and optimism will result in necessary economic and social improvements. They might be right.
We, we, we.
As generations go, we hold a golden ticket of influence. But what about me? What about the entitled, self-absorbed, stereotypical 20-something-year-old? Will each of us personally have the international influence we dream of achieving?
Our generation has a new and improved version of the American Dream. We want personal success with a side of global impact. Our optimism has been used as an opportunity for "professional development" companies to target us, promising to help us all become the next Mark Zuckerberg (for the right price, of course).
But life is not a game of Tetris. As powerful as our generation is, we cannot all be on the same level as individuals.
Just as is the case with every other generation, our idea of success may be unreachable for most of us. Mistakes will be made. Tragedy will strike. Inequality will persist.
Those who never make it out of their small towns or whose start-ups never take off may be in for major disappointment. So, as a generation of dreamers, what will enable individual Millennials to make their dreams come true?
Survey data at the Pew Research Center indicates that "social and economic divisions will emerge" in the increasingly technological world of the future. According to respondent opinions, achieving our personal goals and having the impact we want may depend on three key factors:
1. Knowing How To Manage Without The Internet
Why? Because the Internet is a portrayal. There was life before it came about, believe it or not. Many of us have lived it.
We remember what it was like to go to the school library to work on our group projects before the Internet made it unnecessary to even leave our rooms. We still remember what it was like before Google, and we may have more digital intelligence and social resiliency because of it.
In other words, using traditional media taught us to distinguish the good information from the noise. This can make all the difference between being well-informed and being misled by the constant flow of data online. Being able to read between the lines and pick the sense from the nonsense will help us get ahead of those who can't tell the difference.
2. Understanding The Value Of Time
Everything seems to happen so fast, our perception of time is changing. We are an impatient generation, and we have a constant sense of urgency in the way we communicate and consume information. We expect everything to be instant, from our food to our relationships.
But it's important to remember that some things take longer than a minute. Being made to wait is not always a bad thing. Those who understand that creating quality ideas takes time -- perhaps even years -- will be more likely to stay grounded and get ahead in the long run.
3. Maintaining An Appetite For Deeper Learning
Gen-Y has mastered the art of multi-tasking. For many reasons, that's a good thing.
Responding to competing interests may help us develop faster cognitive skills in the future. It also keeps us much more aware than our elders are. But there is a downside.
Constantly paying attention to an array of social media accounts, our favorite websites, our email inbox and our everyday routines and tasks may threaten our ability to evolve. A major concern among researchers is the sacrifices our brains make when they constantly multitask. Being stretched in all directions may lead us to neglect the deep knowledge and processing skills that are vital for problem-solving and innovation.
Those who learn how to internalize, explore and process one important thing at a time may fare better than those focused on absorbing a little bit of everything they see. But considering that our generation is more fiscally responsible and better educated than those before us, I may be totally off the mark here.
For all I know, we might create a society with ample room for each individual to achieve greatness. True to form, I am optimistic. But based on current trends, we Millennials need to better understand the difference between our generational power and our individual opportunities.
We need to open our minds to both possibility and probability. As academics continue to learn and understand who we are and who we will become as a generation, it's our responsibility to pay better attention to our individual journeys.
Rather than dive right into the world we have created, we need to be more self-aware if we want to achieve personal success. Only then might Gen-Y truly save us all.