If you’re a millennial, you have likely realized the difficult situation you’ve been thrust into. The economy favors the mega wealthy, the government is trying to get rich on your student loan interest, and you’ve probably had to take one if not several unpaid “internships” to land a salaried job below the pay grade you expected.
It’s a tough time to be from the millennial generation because your parents generation had everything virtually handed to them. One of the worst circumstances that comes with thinking about the stressors you face as a millennial is burnout. Burnout is defined as working yourself too hard under conditions of extreme stress and pressure. Regular burnout can be found in any workplace that doesn’t treasure its employees, or in environments of high competition. Millennial burnout differs from regular burnout in that the conditions of stress are directly related to problems millennials seem to face at a far higher percentage than other generations.
It’s important to take preventative measures to avoid burnout, and also recognize it when you’re already suffering from it. Below, I note five key measures to fight back against burnout.
Take a Moment to Appreciate Your Climb
Although more students than ever before have college debt, more students than ever before also have a college degree. It’s good to live in an educated society. Some people never get the chance to go to college. And if your climb doesn’t include a 4-year college degree, that is totally okay too!
Millennials are always trying to compete with each other to have the best grades, the best internships, the best level of grind. All of that is fine, but if you forget to look back and appreciate what you’ve already accomplished, the first time you hit a wall is going to feel like the end of the world. So many millennials just keep pushing on to the next big thing without thinking about all the lessons they learned in their previous states. Learning from the climb to success is the way we feel satisfied and happy with ourselves, even in hard times.
Make a list of the top ten things you have achieved to date. Everyone has moments of pride. Highlight yours and keep it in your phone to revisit when you have a bad day.
Remembering your triumphs when you’re in the heart of burnout can change the course of your career for the better.
Embrace Inevitable Failure
At some point in your life as a millennial, you’re going to fail. Getting to a point where you feel exhausted and out of options is definitely okay. Millennials have been conditioned, through standardized testing and through constantly striving for the best grades that getting and F isn’t an option. That isn’t true. The most successful people in the world have failed, and likely have failed many times.
It’s important to fail young. Those who don’t fail when they’re young become completely derailed when they fail as an adult.
Not you, millennial!
You know what it feels like to want a job, do everything perfectly in the interviewing process, and then be rejected for someone with “more experience.” You know what it feels like to work in industries outside of your field while endlessly looking for your dream job. You know how to handle the moment when you make a mistake at work. You own up to your failures and you learn from them instead of blaming everyone else.
That’s why boomers blame avocado toast and not themselves for the state of the economy. (Sorry boomers!)
Embracing failure instead of internalizing it prevents burnout. If you’re constantly hiding or rejecting your own failures, you’re only building your own stress. You’re hurting your self-esteem by not letting yourself fail and learn.
The next time you’re faced with a shortcoming, think about how this situation has happened as if you are a non-involved third party. If others are to blame, that’s fine. But if you’re to blame, you need to acknowledge that so it doesn’t happen again.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Millennials have cultivated laser focus on their dreams. Back in the day of Boomers, if they wanted to work in a given industry, it took them 1-3 moves in their career to get there. Now the average amount of moves a millennial has to make to get into their “dream career” is 5-10!
Though millennials are often faulted for having short attention spans because of technology, they actually have laser focus when it comes to their ambitions.
Millennials won’t give up until they make it, and are willing to make lateral moves, or even downward moves to get into the field of their choice. Millennials also are more willing to go into debt to follow their passion. They have more graduate degrees than any other generation.
Start by building a pyramid of your goals, putting the most important at the very top. Use this as a guide when you feel you’re starting to lose your way.
Remember to give yourself credit for not giving up on your dreams. It may look like an impossibility to keep going for what you want, but if you keep your goals in mind, burnout will evade you.
Cultivate an Excellent Support Network
Friends are the family we choose. And having true friends is like having a diamond mine inside your cell phone.
When you have a day that feels like it might never end, going home, picking up the phone, and talking to a trusted friend can help you get distance from the situation. Your friends are more likely to be your hype-person than your co-workers. Treat them well and always return the favor when they need you.
Because millennials live in such a competitive environment, it’s hard to cultivate meaningful friendships. If this describes your behavior, you’re probably a victim to millennial burnout:
Does seeing a friend succeed give you a burst of honest happiness? Or does it spark jealousy?
If you see a friend struggling, do you feel sadness and hope for them? Or are you secretly glad it isn’t you?
Well, if you chose the latter in those examples, I’m not going to demonize you. It’s REALLY hard being in the such a competitive environment. Add in the element of constant social media intake and the pressure doubles.
Stop comparing your likes to their likes; their triumphs to yours; their failures to yours.
Being a good friend is much more meaningful than being better than everyone around you. Just remind yourself that the next time you feel a pang of jealousy when someone else gets a promotion or their new dream job.
Practice Gratitude Daily
If you’re struggling with comparing yourself to others, I highly recommend practicing gratitude daily. Whether that’s in the form of meditation or in looking around you and mentally noting all of the beautiful things that you do have.
Being grateful for what you have in a world of endless wants is a priceless gift. Here is a good exercise to practice when you catch yourself feeling jealous or angry at life:
Take a moment to look at your family pet. They love you and want to see you happy. How awesome is it that we get to have housepets who love us for being ourselves?
Close your eyes for a moment and think about your friends and family. How great is it to have a network of people who want to see you succeed? You have a posse, probably larger than you think, who believe in you and your ability to succeed.
Now look at some old photos. The memory you’re looking at is probably a happy time. Appreciate the happiness that moment brought to you. Also acknowledge that life wasn’t perfect then either, but you were still able to feel happiness despite whatever struggles were happening in the background.
Grounding yourself is an excellent way to fight back against millennial burnout because you’re telling the stress in your life: “Listen, I’m not going to let you ruin the good things I already have. My life is not controlled by you. I am the master of my own journey, I am not a victim to my stressors.”
A Final Piece of Advice
Ultimately, fighting the unique circumstances listed above as a millennial is tough. It takes strength of character to overcome the situations you’ve been dealt, and you should recognize your strength and resilience every day. It’s hard to stop comparing your situation to those of your parents. Trust in your self-esteem, your vision, and your integrity to guide you and don’t let yourself feel like a failure if you’re not where you parents were at the same age. Millennials are a generation facing some of the harshest democratic challenges,
If you let stress take the reins on your life, burnout wins. If you decide to take control back, you’ll find yourself feeling healthier, happier, and more confident than ever before.