Between “New Year, New Me” rhetoric, the release of yet another 30 Under 30 list, or just general hustle culture, it can be hard to avoid this generation’s lust for fast and furious achievement.
While setting goals and working hard to achieve your dreams is incredible, true success takes time. Let’s take a look at how cultivating a slow, steady, and sustainable approach is the best way to maintain a holistically healthy and successful life.
Millennials face immense pressure to perform
Our generation has become accustomed to instant gratification. Consider the massive amount of pressure we feel to deliver results, achieve goals, and see changes instantly.
Writer and researcher, Melanie Curtin, recently polled 300 Millennials to get a sense of the types of career pressures they were facing. The results were astounding. 67 percent of Millennials said they felt "extreme" pressure to succeed. In stark contrast, only 40 percent of GenXers and 23 percent of Boomers reported feeling the same level of pressure.
Millennials are the ‘generation of burnout’
In addition to the “Instant Gratification Generation”, Millennials have also earned another nickname: The Burnout Generation. We’re the first generation to grow up with social media - a highlight reel of every person we’ve ever met since middle school, all right at the tips of our fingers. Instant gratification? More like an instant panic attack.
Constantly comparing ourselves to our peers is exhausting. As psychoanalyst Josh Cohen puts it, “The exhaustion experienced in burnout combines an intense yearning for this state of completion, with the tormenting sense that it cannot be attained, that there is always some demand or anxiety or distraction which can’t be silenced.”
Life’s a marathon, not a sprint
How can we tune out the noise and find ways to focus on a slow, steady, and sustainable approach to success? Well, a great place to start might be with defining your own version of success. Do you really believe that every single person on that 30 Under 30 list is living a happy and fulfilled life? Is reaching your goal weight going to suddenly make you love your body? Will an engagement ring solve all of your relationship problems? Sometimes we get so caught up in the end result we fail to consider if it’s something we even want.
The answers to these questions rarely come quickly. Deciding what success and happiness look like requires a great deal of introspection and reflection. It also requires you to tune out the standard societal definitions of success and happiness. And, it’s not always a comfortable process. But, it’s certainly worthwhile if you’re seeking growth with contentment.
Motivate yourself throughout the journey
With a destination in mind, you’re ready to begin the journey. But, take it one step at a time. Focusing too much on the end results might actually hinder your progress. Instead, celebrate the small wins you’re achieving on the road to that end result. Trying to lose 20 lbs? Celebrate that first 5 lbs dropped. Looking to pay off all your debt? Celebrate paying off that first credit card, rather than fixating on how much further you have to go.
Entrepreneur, Matilda Ho, practices what she calls mindful patience. She reminds us that “Most success stories that appear to have taken off overnight take years of commitment to materialize. Mindful patience is knowing how to act when you're waiting. It is patience with intention and persistence.” This practice, she says, helps her come up with meaningful solutions to the problems she is trying to solve. She also thinks it has helped her beat out her competition. “When you take the time to do things right, you can distance yourself from other players,” she says.
Taking a slow, steady, and sustainable approach in today’s culture takes courage and persistence. Trust yourself and the process - it will serve you well in the long run.