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Countering Sad Millennial Syndrome

20-somethings face daunting challenges but there's hope.

Millennials Jam Workshop, CC 2.0
Source: Millennials Jam Workshop, CC 2.0

Younger adults, often dubbed Millennials, have reason to be sad. They're the first generation likely to do less well than their parents. That American Dream of owning a home is more likely to remain a dream. Stable, secure employment is increasingly replaced by slim-benefitted gigs, which every month or six require you to dive back into the job market, preferably with a freshly upgraded skillset. Lifelong learning used to be a luxury. Now it's a job-hunting license. The trusted institutions of previous generations: university, church, and media, are now widely viewed askance. Lasting love is often replaced by quick hookups. Social media may make you sad---People mainly post their brag stuff, making everyone feel like a loser.

So it's not surprising that I'm seeing more clients suffering from what I call Sad Millennial Syndrome. What's a 20-something to do? Maybe one or more of these will help:

Choose an offshore-proof career that's open to mere mortals. Sure, any career in which the work product can be sent over the Internet is vulunerable to being offshored. And sure, the high-paying domestic jobs will go mainly to Gods and Goddesses, but rewarding careers remain for normal people, for example, physician assistant, program evaluator, college student affairs administrator, hair stylist, and specialty counselor, for instance, in autism, eating disorders, or men's issues.

Vet the employer. During the interview process, don't just be a supplicant. Ask probing questions to help you decide if the job will pull your hair out or pull you forward. For example, "What will you expect I'd accomplish in the first 30 days?" "How is the work culture different from your competitors''?" Google the employer, check it out on Glassdoor, query your friends. Choose your job at least as well as you choose your car.

Find happiness outside of "stuff." Most Milllennials willl find it harder than did their parents to make good money, which may be a blessing in disguise. Few people spend their way to happiness. Sure, make enough money to afford decent housing and car but beyond that, you may well find that additional buying forces you into a job you don't like, ethical behavior you're not proud of, or the Damoclean Sword of credit card debt. Get your jollies more from creativity, relationships, and doing a good job at work.

Save simply. It's comforting and pleasurable to see your money grow. Have five or ten percent of each paycheck automatically invested. For younger adults, many financial advisors recommend growth-oriented funds such as Vanguard Life Strategy Growth Fund. But every person is different so, as they say, before investing, check with a trusted advisor.

Choose the right friends. Many young adults like to test dangerous waters: edgy friends and activities. If you have done that, at the risk of sounding like your mother, has that served you? Most contented Millennials soon decide to focus on friends and a romantic partner they admire and bring out the best in them.

Sad Millennial Syndrome is common but treatable.

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

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