Over Christmas, my wife and I travelled to snowy northwest Pennsylvania to spend the week with my parents and visit friends and family. Heading back to my hometown is always fun, especially because Edinboro, PA usually makes all of my Tennessee dreams come true and delivers on a white Christmas. Part of being home that my wife enjoys is looking through my childhood treasures: stories I wrote in third grade; yearbooks from middle school (Yep. Just as awkward as you’d expect); and homemade Christmas ornaments from Kindergarten. She loves looking through them and seeing glimpses of my childhood. We stumbled on a new piece this time we were home. The ever-entertaining first grade questionnaire showed up and provided some insight into young Taylor’s mind. But one thing that struck me was the ever-present question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” First-grade Taylor was in his second year of soccer, so of course, I wanted to be a professional soccer player.
But that question got me thinking about how frequently I was asked that question growing up. All the time people would get a kick out of what you wanted to be when you grew up. However, one statement frequently surrounded that question: “You can be anything you want to be.”
Fast forward to today when a lot of millennials are accused of being lazy, entitled, and lots of other nasty words that I don’t necessarily appreciate. We get Internet hate on the regular for our lack of awareness and expectations of greatness with no work required. I don’t think that’s fair, though.
In fact, many people throw Facebook comments around blaming the generation that raised us for making us this way. Things get (unnecessarily) heated, and again, I don’t think that’s a fair side to take. In fact, why do we even need to take a side? Because, yes, we were told that we can be anything we want to be. And maybe that’s made us entitled.
But maybe, just maybe, we believed that because we’re so great and can be anything we want to be, we are changing the world.
We could dive into the great contributions that have come from “lazy, entitled millennials” like the non-profits and cause-based companies that seem to pop up every day with a 28-year-old at the helm or the spike in social justice awareness and concern spearheaded by “kids” or even the technological contributions that our generation has made.
Companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Lyft, and Instagram have changed our every day lives and were founded by millennials.
In May of 2017, the National Council of Nonprofits published a list of 4 Ways Millennials and Nonprofits are perfect for each other, and at the top of the list was because millennials care. It went on to say, “Working for the good of the broader world or local community fulfills millennials’ desires to focus their energy and intellect on purposeful work.” All of those things make headlines and prove that we’re crazy enough to believe we can change the world, and then we go do it.
But I want to challenge you to not just beat the drum of how great millennials are but to prove it alongside the millennials that are showing the greatness of our generation. You were probably told that you can be anything you want and that you’re so great you can change the world. So let’s prove everyone right. Let’s prove everyone that we deserve everything that comes our way because we are great and changing the world. Here are 3 tips to be whatever you want and change the world with your millennial attitude.
1. Be nice to yourself.
Just because you think you can change the world and are willing to chase that dream doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed right off the bat. If you’re like me, it’s easy to be hard on yourself when things go awry. You start to feel like a failure and like you’ll never have another chance to make a difference. But that’s simply not true. So while learning through failure is important, treating yourself kindly through that failure is equally important.
2. A little challenge helps.
Sure, you’ve been told that you’re great for a long time, but you need some balance. If you want to maximize the belief you have in yourself and the hope you have for changing the world, you need to keep growing. That doesn’t happen by cruising along thinking everything’s just grand. You need someone in your life that will push you and draw out the best from you. Find a person who can be your challenger and your partner in becoming the best version of whatever you want to be.
3. Remember what you set out to do.
Along the way, you’re going to get knocked off track. Life won’t always be peachy keen and your dreams will seem like only a dream with no possibility of it becoming a reality. However, you need to remember what you set out to do to get you back in the saddle and back on track. Remembering what you set out to do gives you a North Star to follow in the dark and hard times. Maybe that means writing down what you’re wanting to do and keeping it on your mirror as a constant reminder. Maybe it’s a reminder in your phone. Whatever it is, remember your goal and stick to it relentlessly.
Ultimately, you need to find that thing that that fires you up. Find that thing that God has uniquely wired you to do. When you find your calling, that’s where the world changing happens. Because at the end of the day, we don’t change the world for our own good. The good that we do reflects the gifts that God has given us and ultimately reflects His goodness in our lives.