A Generation of Dreamers

Answering and uncovering “what Millennials want” is undoubtedly more complex and profound than the simplicity of the topic nearly suggests. In fact, it might be more challenging than anyone would really choose to admit. After all, today’s kids, teenagers and twentysomethings, who make up the Millennial generation, are simply the kids, teenagers and twentysomethings we’ve always known, right? The reality of the situation could not speak a truth that is more unique, distinct and fascinating from anything we’ve previously encountered.

As I was preparing to give a series of talks and presentations on Millennials at PCMA’s Convening Leaders Conference in Las Vegas, of which I gave last week, I came across something absolutely ground-breaking. And it was something that came to fruition as I was wrapping up a project for a very significant client. But something I’ve unknowingly encountered before.

The dreaminess of the Millennial generation has been more than apparent for some time. From living in the “now”, to the proverbial characterizations and scrutiny of perceived entitlement and deservingness, and the immediate pursuit of a dream life and dream lifestyle. Interestingly, all of which has been seriously misperceived as youthful naivety, exuberance and lack of fundamental life experience and experiences.

But don’t tell that to this undyingly optimistic and continually enthusiastic group of determined individuals. Even in these difficult and uncertain economic times, the dreaminess of the Millennials has hardly subsided. In fact, their outlook of their future very much stays the same as they momentarily alter their day-to-day lives as they travel towards their pursuit to happiness.

Their dreams, goals, attitudes and passions are vividly clear and ever-present and almost larger than life. And this is where things get absolutely intriguing and downright interesting. Ask any Millennial about their pursuits of their dreams and goals and attitudes and passions and you will receive the most colourful, beautifully chaotic and elaborate series of characteristics. But then should you ask them on the real-life details it would take to achieve and accomplish their dream life and I guarantee you that you will put them at a loss for words.

The a-ha, eureka, ground-breaking moment here is not the assumption, which many of you will make, that Millennials are in over their heads or babied or stupid or what have you. The a-ha, eureka, ground-breaking moment here is that, yes, Millennials do not know or understand what it takes to get that job or that life-experience or that lifestyle because they are not basing their life in real-life details but rather, they are basing their life in their dream-life details.

And I’ll reiterate that. As the masses of the most educated and arguably smartest generation – ever – make their presence known, they are faced with real life decisions. They will have to work, and contrary to popular belief, they want to work. But they seemingly want to work and pursue work and excel in work based on their own terms and characteristics of the details they believe will help them achieve their dream-life, and not basing these characteristics in the real-life details – you must do this, do that, have this to get from point A to B – that have been previously used to undertake such endeavours.

It really is no wonder than to see massive rifts and work-culture shifts as the Millennials are unknowingly changing the dynamics and the fundamentals of the workplace. Equally, it’s no wonder that many employers are having difficulties with these young workers and employees. After all, how do you deal with individuals who base their progress, ideals and conceptions of their life on a series of characteristics that are dream detail-orientated and not orientated to details many would say are the real-life and necessary details in accomplishing what you as an individual want.

Job-hopping, and get ready for this trend to growing massively amongst Millennials, will not be about boredom or self-discovery or about finding the right career. It will be based in the very essence that if it does not somehow correspond or benefit their pursuit of their dream and dream-life, they will leave and pursue and hunt and attempt to discover something they believe will deliver on what they want.

Once you begin to add all this together, you begin to realize that for Millennials their dreams are not the end point. For them, it’s not the finish line. Rather for Millennials, their dreams and goals and attitudes and passions are the starting point. For them, this is where it’s happening and not hopefully, one day, maybe it will happen. Not only is this untraditional and unconventional to supposed rational thought, it is unbelievably innovative and promising and genuinely refreshing. Something of which could be applied to a variety of categories and subject matters and views and ideologies and on complete broader basis.

We are not dream chasers. And we are most certainly not day-dreamers. We are dream creators, believers, makers and doers. We are a generation where dreams are happening. And happening now. Talk to any Millennial. They’ll speak to you through their dreaminess. We are the generation of dreamers.

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10 comments
Tafoya
Tafoya

Hi, I am Millennial man, I was attracted to this post by search phrase "change social paradigms" So, "why not work together to make something really great happen"? Josip, I am holding you accountable to that statement-What does working together look like to you because I am ready. I am not the only one with great ideas and it is a race, time is moving faster! I believe "innovation" will be a big factor for Millennial entrepreneurs which I am and striving to be much stronger at. I happen to be a concept creator or dreamer and have managed to turn a tiny profit on some of my fun glass art design innovations over the past 5 years. It could be 100 times its current system. But I have so much more inside me to sacrifice and deligate my time into, Ideas!!!! People who know me say Aaron, why don't you start selling your ideas? Well, that's still a process its self right? We creators have trouble micro managing becasue we harness the ingredients of wisdom and vision which always grows yet often stands still inside us. I have been studying several simple but not easy ways of manifesting the Millennial mind into a physical reality in 2010. I will name a few resources to prove not all Millennial minds are clueless but will admit we still need help, perhaps alot ~ ideas take time and most are strapped to the rat race, (especially during and after college) but here. "Think and grow rich by Napolian Hill", "The 80/20 principal","purple cow" and everyone needs a close following of a true internet marketer, I happen to follow and apply teachings from Jonathan Budd who opened my world to internet marketing, seo, personal branding, lead generation and pay per click mastery on Facebook. Not to reveal to much but I have a Idea that I believe will change the future of music growth. I just need a small trusting investor, a tight mature inner circle and a team to come on board. Josip, you really want to make something happen? If not perhaps you are networked with some Millennium doers and old money persuers- ( need capital first-> basic software development conections-> to start-> Email me here: www.TafoyaGlass.com

Josip
Josip

Thanks for the comment! You most certainly bring the same drawn out, age old perspective towards this generation. Beyond much of what Millennials are goes beyond being different, as not only the times they live in are different, everything fundamentally about them is different. But there here is that they don't need to be brought down to reality - often of which is a misperceived reality - in order to meet their dreams. If that were the case, we'd have the same thing occurrences we've had for the last few decades. Millennials are bringing a fresh and innovative approach with them and we should be devoid of it but rather cultivate it. Often I get the inclination that much of what is said towards Millennials is an attempt to stifle the amazing progress they will have. But then I realize that in fact its inside our dreams that this will flourish and not in the reality others - mainly their elders - want to create for them. So, why not work together to make something really great happen?

Barbara Ray
Barbara Ray

Hey Josip-- great post. But isn't this a case of just being young? The way to get to the dream is blurry because they don't yet have a lot of experience realizing those paths? Or even seeing what those paths might look like? I know it took me a long time to figure out a path through my career. No one ever told me HOW to get to point Z. Heck, no one even told me what options were out there for the type of skills I had. There might be a market niche here. You'd think career counseling would be more advanced, but alas, I don't think it is. That's why so many young adults flounder so early, which is what we found in our study. Maybe we need to do a better job of mentoring and showing Millennials how to make that dream a reality.

Eric Hatch
Eric Hatch

Josip,
Big dreams are central to the younger people I know. I was born in 1974, and I understand the differences, but I think that the differences are two-fold. First, they do have a "Big Dream" philosophy, which seems based on the media they have ingested. Media like movies, TV, and the Internet bubble economy (in general, not just talking about Dot Com bust era) love the big dream, and most Millennials have been fed a steady diet of it. Second, there is the massive use of emerging technology to learn details about EVERYTHING. They can learn where anything was and is made NOW. They can learn about their friends and their likes NOW. Data is available, and Millennials find the data at their leisure.

Why wouldn't a millennial think of a big dream first? But I have also seen some of my network who really understand the need to learn about the details. I am mentoring a guy who wants to serve God in music. He has dreams AND he also is beginning to recognize the tools what will facilitate that dream. That's where the best millennials will thrive: dream, then enact a plan.

Bob
Bob

Same stuff. Different generation. Gen X was described in the exact same terms back in the recession and then dot com boom of the early / mid '90s.

Carol Phillips
Carol Phillips

Josip: This is incredibly insightful. Talk to Millennials and you hear the word 'dream' and 'passion' quite a lot, but less likely to hear words like 'plan' or 'goals'. I also think this helps explain why Millennials always feel poor or broke - they are measuring their current situation using their dream as a reference point. Since being comfortable financially is part of the dream, it's little wonder they feel poor now. Thanks for this point, really good one! Carol

Josip
Josip

Great comment Barbara! And it's a pleasure to have you here. I think there is a significant misunderstanding with understanding today's youth as just being young. Yes, being young does present it's youthful face within Millennial issues but I think there is something more intriguing here beyond just being young.

And I'm really glad you bring up some interesting points. Our societal structures are seemingly failing more so and on the Millennials. I think education would be the best example here. We're told to go to college/university - which has a series of positives and negatives to go with - but their is no guidance to why and for what. Once we leave, we face the same scenario. The "just go" rational really doesn't cut it to be honest. So yes, mentoring would have phenomenal beneficial effects just as reverse mentoring would (see the post before this).

Josip
Josip

Great comment Eric! You most certainly touch on many points. The exposure of their environment onto Millennials is having a significant impact on what they are and who they are. And with the many characteristics you point out, amongst many more, it's almost incomprehensible to think they would be nothing but dreamers. Though you and I both see this and the dynamics behind their environment, a vast majority of older individuals clearly don't understand this. Even many Millennials don't see this amongst themselves until you bring it up. They see themselves as, well, quite normal. And they really have no reason to think otherwise.

Josip
Josip

Great to have you here Bob! I must say that those that are non-Millennial have this disposition of arguing the "same stuff, different generation" notion. And in my opinion, it's a very flawed point of view even when you base it on the simplest premise of change and the amount of change that occurs. There actually is qualitative evidence that suggests Millennials do in fact think differently and are wired differently simply based on the changing, new and innovative environments around them. Most notably, the effect Facebook is having on the way they think, which is just one example amongst many to show that, well, it's not the "same stuff, different generation" perception many so easily choose to argue and believe.

Josip
Josip

Thank you Carol! And thank you for the comment as well. Seemingly, no one really has a plan. They think it but don't have a clear or defined path to how to reach it. They believe it will just happen, some way, some how.

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