I’m Starting to Hate ‘Millennials’ [WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE]

You may or may not have noticed the radio silence on the blog. I don’t know if anyone is reading anymore, and I don’t really blame you if you aren’t.

I had to take a serious break from being part of this cultural obsession with generations and where we all fit and how we’re all going to deal with our different communication styles. And trust me, if you’re sick of reading the word, ‘millennial,’ then you can bet I’m sick of writing it.

There was no such word as ‘millennial,’ when I started writing the blog, if you can believe it. It’s hard to imagine now since it’s ubiquitous now in news stories and social media posts. But lately I’ve started to feel like I was drowning in the buzzword of the moment, unable to compete with the constant outpour of articles on millennials.

When I first started writing the blog it was because I was in a scary-dark place – depressed and looking for answers for what I wanted to do with my life and what it actually meant to be an adult woman with absolutely no plans for her future.

When I thought that I could explore these questions through writing, I got excited for the first time in months. I loved the idea that no one was really talking about the fact that the game of being an adult has totally changed from only ten years ago and I wanted to explore it hard – I also really needed to because I desperately needed those answers for myself.

Why is everything more difficult, more expensive, more challenging, more draining, and more shitty than I ever imagined? Is everyone else getting this joke but me? Am I the only one who feels like her body is a grave misrepresentation of the scared little girl inside?

Then, I guess, because I write about thirty-somethings, my friends and family started sending me videos, articles and social media posts about the latest articles with the buzzword ‘millennial’ in the headline, thinking that this is what I’m looking for.

And yes, sometimes the topic overlaps – some millennials are now in their thirties, some are GenX and some are caught somewhere between. But really (and I must be clear here): I don’t give a fuck about what generation anyone comes from – every generation of this century, I believe (and maybe beyond that) will have a specific struggle as they transition from twenties to thirties because of the way Western society is currently set up.

… And besides journalists and marketing specialists, I don’t think anyone else really does either.

And I’m so sick of the word, the concept and the fact that every writer and their mother thinks they know how to classify the millennial mind and who millennials really are, what they want and how they behave. It’s just so stupid.

The irony is that millennials are all about breaking down labels and accepting differences, but we’re forcing them to be categorized and stereotyped every step of the way, just to impress Google.

It’s also ineffective. I can’t believe we’re spending so much time reading the articles on this instead of getting our hands dirty and just talking to the young people we work with.

Sure millennials grew up in a different time and technology makes them seem more separate and new, but isn’t every generation new, wide-eyed and full of hopeful ideologies? Didn’t the flower children of the seventies spark the same interest and become a movement that helped us all evolve into a more loving and accepting society?

Millennials are just the next step; they’re taking it all a little further once again. That’s all. It’s not really that amazing, surprising, or really as fucking difficult as everyone says it is in all these articles.

“Millennials are so hard to please and understand”.

Garbage! I call serious bullshit on this.

They’re just people. They’re just younger fucking people. Talk to them like people and you’ll find out they’re actually pretty cool, happy to help and normal fucking humans – not an alien race of weirdos that the press makes them out to be, just for dramatic effect.

And really, the only reason ‘millennial’ is such as buzzword is because at any other time in history, writers and reporters would use words like ‘today in business’ and ‘nowadays,’ ‘current social behaviours.’ But these words are too mundane to be picked up by Google and improve your SEO ranking or get you featured in a hashtag search. The result is that we see ‘millennial’ get overused everywhere when really we’re just talking about how the world is progressing.

Personally, I really don’t give a shit what generation you come from – that’s not my question; that’s not where my curiosity leads me.

So, just to be clear: My questions are about adulthood – adulthood in the twenty-first century when apparently it’s okay to dress like a child, love cartoons, shoot each other with paint but also know how to pay down debt and navigate the new roles of male and female in the workplace, online, politics and even our own sexual relationships.

Send me your millennial articles if you must, but also look through them for yourself. Do you have a millennial in your life that you can ask if the article is on point or can you perhaps smell the bullshit wafting out of the desperate writer’s keyboard? Write about millennials, she says, that’s always a hit!

So this last month I just needed a break. I needed to step back and regroup with what my intent is here. I have no interest in the millennial hype. I have real questions that I think truly matter to people over thirty, and they have nothing to do with our top ten worst cellphone habits or our work ethic as it compares to the boomers.

Right now I’m working on the questions on my own. I want to know where our culture is really heading.

I want to know if higher education is about to die because of the fear of debt.

I want to talk about the pain of not being able to conceive, or the pain of not being able to have it all in a world full of endless options and over-stimulation.

I want to know what keeps you up at night and what really gets you going and motivated to go to the same crappy job every day (besides an Oprah quote clad in gold-glitter handwriting on a rose gold background).

There’s a lot of pain we’re all holding in and a lot we might also be chalking up to #firstworldproblems, but that’s bullshit too. It’s all relative.

What if we solve some of our pain here so we can be our best selves and help others; help the planet; help animals; help help help and love?

That’s what keeps me up at night before I close my iPad.That’s what I search for and what I think is worth writing about and talking about. #everyone.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on any or all of this. Are you feeling like the millennial craze is everywhere and just too much? Are you sick of how many times I used the word ‘millennial’ in this article seemingly to up my SEO (ironic, yes, but kind of unavoidable this time, really)? How’s your adult life going so far?

Mine’s ok. I’m working it out.

With hope and more fire,

Ashe

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Cuba Libre – My Vacation from WIFI

My husband and I got back from our vacation in Cuba on Tuesday. It’s a beautiful, laid-back place and so nice to get away from a piece of Toronto winter. But let me tell ya, instead of feeling refreshed and re-energized, I’m still riding the Caribbean-style, laid-back train. Cuba’s residue is still with me – the warm sun, no cooking for myself and most especially NO WIFI.

That’s right, you heard me – no WIFI at the hotel. It sounded scary to me at first too. I thought, will I go crazy? Will I really be able to really shut my business’s doors for a full week?

Having no choice kind of makes the decision for you but it also turned out to be such a blessing. I let go of my phone and emails to let my mind go blank – almost to the point where I couldn’t care less when the hotel staff was less than forgiving of my Spanish skills or our bus was more than 40 minutes late.

I really haven’t been able to reach this state in a while since I’m sure we all feel is near impossible when life is going on a mile a minute with text messages and social media posts to get to.

Letting go in Cuba was an amazing reminder of what life before technology was like. People actually just sit around and talk! They draw maps or they physically walk with you to show you their favourite place to eat. There’s no Uber. There’s no Yelp. And no one on Instagram is going to LIKE my seafood dish except me.

Then one day while we were in beautiful Havana, we came up to a park. I knew something looked a little ‘off’ but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it until I stared, bewildered, just a little longer. Then I realized it- everyone was on their phone. Every single person in the park had his or her head down and wasn’t talking to anyone around. It was really creepy. Apparently this was one of the ‘hot spots’ in the city that are few and far between.

After days of being without any connection I felt sad at first for what could be a very social and lively park. I almost shook my head with judgement.

Luckily, I caught myself because I realized that I almost didn’t notice how this picture stood out among the rest of the city. I almost didn’t catch it because it’s so commonplace at home.

It was such a quick moment but it made me realize how much I depend on technology and maybe even have a bit of an addiction (or maybe a big one…). But it also made me realize how lucky I am to have Internet in my home and be able to do business online.

Interestingly though, after only having to live about four days at that point without Google, I judged these people in the hot spot who were just trying to enjoy being connected to the world at large like anyone else.

It’s a strange feeling. And I think it’s a debate we are all having with ourselves more often . On one hand, if you’re in your thirties, you probably remember land lines and pen pals. I remember watching the entire countdown on MTV just to see my favourite Michael Jackson video at number one.

Without YouTube, we had to sit through all the other music too, which sometimes took all afternoon. And then when I wanted more, I would put on my MJ album, but be bursting at the seams to dance harder, knowing I couldn’t because it would make the record skip.

Ahhh, the good ol’ days.

There are the memories and there are the things I’m glad are in the past. I’m grateful for technology but I’m also grateful for vacations from it so I can get some perspective.

For me right now, I think I’m still trying to hang on to a little more of my disconnected life. Cuba reminded me so much of life before technology and social media ruled my time. And while I have no interest in going backwards or cutting out social media out completely I am making a commitment to be more aware of when I choose to have my head down.

Are you having this debate? Are you condemning technology on one hand but addicted to its conveniences on the other?

I’d say, before condemning technology, see what your experience as a thirtysomething can bring to it. For example, online dating may seem unnatural, so how can you add some good old fashioned charm to the conversation or make her feel like you can transport her to a simpler time? Go with the flowers or the mixed tape (or playlist), call instead of text, know where you’re going so you don’t need GPS.

What are your beliefs about social media? Does it make us more or less social? Does it make  YOU more or less social? When are other times you could make a phone call instead of sending a text or email?

OR, when could you send a personal email instead of resending a meme?

I’d love to get a personal email for you about your thoughts and questions. Contrary to what I said about technology, I AM ready to get to work with new clients, starting next week.

If you’re ready to get your priorities straight and start being the success you’ve always wanted to be, get in touch today! We’ll chat about where you’d like to go this next year and create an action plan to get you there whether it’s in your career, dating or spiritual life.

Let’s chat today – support@ashewoodward.com

For more info visit ashewoodward.com

We’re Not Lazy: A Response to Simon Sinek’s Millennial Thing

Most people define Millennials as those born in the early eighties. Being born in early 1982, I’m kind of on the cusp of GenX too and I often find myself offended by comments made about both generations. And as a mixed-generational woman it’s also hard to resolve that while  I love Nirvana and Soundgarden, I’m also addicted to posting food pics on Instagram. It’s a continuing inner battle.

But GenX has been accused of being a rather ‘meh’ generation — to use a Millennial phrase. It’s been said that we haven’t really contributed much to culture and, as a smaller segment of society, we lack the impact that the Boomers or the Millennials have.

Speaking of which, Millennials are all about the ‘impact’. Simon Sinek, in his recent viral video on Millennials in the workplace (watch HERE) almost sneers at this word in his interview, implying that we really don’t know the true meaning of it. He makes it sound like we like to throw the phrase ‘make and impact’ around but don’t know how to actually implement strategies to achieve it.

Sinek also says that Millennials are being “accused” by older generations as, “lazy, entitled and impatient.” He claims that we got here by being told that we are “special” and when we grow up we can have anything we want, which he says is a mistake in Boomer and GenX parenting strategies.

Sure this contributed, and Sinek is careful to say that this was no one’s fault. So why then does it still feel like we’re playing the blame game here?

Oh ya, because this isn’t the whole story. And maybe it’s also that we feel like saying, “Hey Simon, you’re not a Millennial so it does feel like you’re accusing us too.”

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But perhaps because of time constraints in the interview Sinek isn’t able to paint the fuller picture of all the motivations for why Millennials are ‘the way they are,’ but I personally think he missed the biggest one to point out:

It’s not that we’re lazy, we just DON’T WANT TO WORK TO DEATH!

We’ve seen the Boomers kill themselves, working 9–5 jobs, 5 days a week for years, just to reach retirement, where life can finally ‘begin’.

We’ve seen near-idyllic marriages fall part after twenty plus years.

And, we’ve seen GenX sit there, admittedly, like deer in the headlights, not knowing what this all means or what to do next and as a result and be paralyzed by fear, resulting in this ‘non-contributing generation.’

This then has resulted in more divorce, more stress, more ‘hard-work’ because maybe, just maybe, we thought we could stick to the old model if we just did it more and harder.

Enter the Millennials with our ‘lofty’ ideals of work less, live more . What a ‘lazy concept.’

Or is it a revolt and a rebellion that society needs?

Entitled? Yep. I agree with Sinek here. We were told we could have it, so now we want it. We’re an ambitious generation who know what we want. Is that so terrible?

We’re saying that working to live for the weekends isn’t cutting it. We’re saying that ya, let’s have beanbag chairs to start, but that’s only the beginning. And (duh!) it’s only a symbol for how we see the workplace as the first place paradigms need to shift.

We’re saying we accept that we live in a culture where we are what we do for a living. But we’re also asking if there’s a better way.

And maybe we are sitting around pondering the idea too much. Or maybe we are on our phones, playing Angry Birds, avoiding the weight of it all. But you can’t deny that we’re shaking it up – at least more than GenX. No offense.

It seems that everyone has seen this video and lately when I share what I do for a living and what I blog about, most people mention this clip and are more than eager to agree with Sinek, saying he, “hit it out of the park,” and everything is “right on the money”. They laugh in agreement at how they don’t understand how we can be so addicted to devices and be so unruly to manage. They look to me as if I’ll high-five them because someone is finally putting these entitled brats in their place.

But I don’t think that’s not what Sinek wants us to see. And I’m not high-fifing just yet.

Sinek is a fabulous leader and that’s what he’s most known for – teaching leadership skills. Undoubtedly, his voice will be an important one as Millennials get older and become the leaders of the generations that follow. But he’s not a Millennial. He’s right there with all the other leaders trying to figure out what will inspire Millennials to make all the impact we want to make which will inevitably help everyone, including the generations to come.

He’s struggling to figure out how to lead us as we’re trying to break the mold. And where he’s landed seems to be in a place of pointing out the very worst in us so we look in the mirror, while urging us to hold on to what’s important – relationships and patience.

Interestingly, a few websites describe him as an optimist, but one of the biggest things I have a problem with in his interview is his description of the, ‘best case scenario.’ He says that if we continue to exhibit impatience and a lack of relationship skills, we will become a very uninspired, neutral generation that is ‘fine’ with how things are in their life – from relationships to career, Millennials will stop asking for more and will give up on their ambitions. In other words, we will fully embrace a life of, ‘meh.’

I have to call BS on this. That’s a pretty pessimistic outlook, Mr. Sinek. It’s here that I wonder if he really isn’t being ironic afterall…

By challenging the 9-5 work day and the 5-day work week with our more entrepreneurial and non-profit spirits, we’ve already begun to shift an over 100 year old system. See, we got a little taste of the impact that’s possible and we want more.

And I don’t think our idealism and ambition will be worn down by nay-saying Boomers and GenXers. I think we’re just itching to be in those leadership positions so we might show you how it’s done.

Maybe we’re hard to manage because we don’t trust you. And maybe we don’t trust you because we’re addicted to our devices, or maybe it’s that you haven’t given us a reason to. I mean, why should I want to be like you and work tooth and nail for a thankless corporation that pollutes the environment? Or how can I really use the the words of wisdom from a mentor who started his career before computers were smaller than an entire room?

Sure we’re going to have to make adjustments to the ways technology has influenced our lives, especially our relationships, but we’re working on it. You may see our obsession with devices as a terrible addiction, but it’s also made us pretty industrious.

And our entitlement? Well, I personally think it’s dwarfed by our ingenuity and desire to add our flavour to the zeitgeist soup. Just watch.

Or maybe Sinek is right and we won’t figure it all out and we’ll continue not to know what we want. Then the next generation will be saddled with the responsibility of pleasing a generation who can’t articulate what needs to be done. Oh, how will they be able to impress these leaders who want you to work less but better?

I guess they’ll just have to up their game, raise the standards and forward humanity once again. 

So for that, and for being impatient, entitled and lazy: #sorrynotsorry.

What did YOU feel when you were watching the interview? Do you think Sinek is ‘on point’ or ‘out to lunch’? 

I’d love to hear more about what OUR GENERATION has to say as a defence or response to this.

Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page where you can chat with the whole

Being Thirties community!

And, as always, keep in touch by going to ashewoodward.com 

Eat, Pray and Love (without running away).

For those of us who love her and her work, it’s hard to imagine that Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love got tons of responses to her book and the film about how she ran away from her problems. Even in the book itself she had people telling her that leaving her life and job and  going away for a year to Italy, India and Bali was a crazy thing to do.

Sure, it’s possible that a lot of those people were jealous, but some of them have a point too: when life seems to be nothing that you want, not everyone can just walk away, find ourselves in something else or somewhere else and return to ‘real life’ anew.

So what do we do instead?

Oh ya, we read these kinds of books and criticize the authors for being able to find a way. Or, we shop and spend the equivalent of a flight to Bali on shoes and useless crap. No judgement – we all do it – myself included. But what is it really costing us? What is it creating in OUR world? What messages are we passing on?

The secret here that we’ve not really talked about is that the reason we’re so damn in love with this idea, this book, the movie and even Elizabeth Gilbert herself, is that we are starving for a new play book – a rule book of sorts for the new world we live in.

I had a conversation the other day about whether or not our generation knows how to love. Being an eternal optimist (not to mention a hopeless romantic) I was inclined to fight for love and that, ‘yes, of course we do.’

But I was quickly shown how wrong I might be.

As much as technology has brought us together globally, it’s separates us from who what’s in front of our non-virtual faces. We keep our phones in our hands when we speak to people or have dinner with them. We ‘swipe right’ instead of learning to flirt, court, be awkward around new people. And now, many are saying that because we and the next generations aren’t learning relationship skills, not to mention our high standards of perfection that we see over and over online, we’re sadly destined to not have deep, meaningful relationships and not find true love. (For more on this see Simon Sinek’s answer to the Millennial Question HERE).

We’re also really the first generation of divorced parents. What do we really believe about love and marriage anyway if in our society divorce is always an option and ubiquitous? Maybe we like the idea of marriage, but what do we really believe about its power, its role or the necessity of it?

And since marriage and the question of divorce as attached to religion has been around for, like, ever, we’re also not quite sure about how we feel about that so much either.

Please, Elizabeth Gilbert, how do we love? How do we pray? How do we do anything in a world where we question religion and the existence of a creator more than ever and yet still live in the hangover of the rules, regulations and practices made in His name?

I wonder how many of us picked up GIlbert’s memoir in hopes that it was a how-to guide.

Eating might seem less exigent but let me ask you this: How do you eat? Not what, how?

Do you eat alone, in front of the TV with your smart phone at your side?

Do you turn your phone off at dinner or lunch with colleagues or clients or do you leave it on the table, allow it to vibrate on the menu, get up and take calls in between chewing? Do you get that everything in GIlbert’s book was about how much better life could be when she went out and prioritized her deepest emotion to connect and love? (And yes, Italy is of course an amazing place to start if you’re looking for how to live with more connection, intention and good food!)

So, what are we doing?

How are we doing all of these things?

T. Harv Eker often says that how we do anything is how we do everything. So, I’d say, of these 3 basics, we can pretty much be sure that our often half-assed attitude mixed with confusion is how we’re acting out all over the frickin’ place. From parenting, job-searching, friend-making and friend-keeping, listening, to everything else you can think of and in-between, we are not stepping up.

And I hate it when people blame our generation for being lazy or doomed. But guys, I’m not other people. I’m us. And I’m fed up with myself in all these respects too!

I’m fed up with how I’ve let so many wishy-washy decisions were made because I wasn’t sure what people might think or because I was afraid I didn’t have the right answer.

And I know we can do better. We can do so much better.

And so we don’t get overwhelmed with all of the many ways we a are a failure as a generation., let’s start whit the 3 basics that started it all: Eat, pray and love.

How can you eat better? How can we more often have meals made with care and surround ourselves with love as we enjoy a meal?  Start small – once a week.  And could we try NO phones in the kitchen/dining area – period?

How can we pray better? If like many of our generation, you identify as more spiritual than religious, how can you go deeper into what that really means for you and how it really fits into your identity?

And if you’re ready to get down with your spiritual side, do it. That doesn’t mean that you just go to yoga this week. It means you do a full cavity-search for why you even say you’re spiritual to begin with. Because if we really can’t back up what we mean, I’m sure that ‘spiritual,’ will be just another phrase our generation will be saddled with, something akin to ‘meh.’

To those who have strong beliefs rooted in religion and a specific faith, I wonder if you too have some exploring to do about what it means to be a person of faith in today’s society. How do you really feel when your faith is criticized or your religion is blamed? How are you doing with all of that and what do you really wish everyone knew about who you are and what role that plays for you and, therefore, the rest of us?

And love?

Well, I realize I don’t have the answer to this one. But I’m working on it. We all should be working on it. How can we love better, every day?

…our friends, spouse, kids, co-workers, fellow man, the environment, ourselves…

There’s so much to love and there has to be a way to do it better. Less cellphones and technology replacing true relationships is a start. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts on this or some action steps you’re taking to improve this in your life.

Please leave a comment and/or share with us all on our community page facebook.com/beingthirties.

No more resolutions, just being better in 2017. Here’s hoping it catches on!

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