Are Gen Y Millennials Screwing Themselves On Purpose?

Gen Y Millennials are a curious bunch. They are now in their prime family formation and home buying age. However, back in 2014, when I first wrote this post, I began to wonder whether Gen Y Millennials were screwing themselves on purpose. Let me explain.

The Plight Of Gen Y Millennials

A 25 year old acquaintance just told me he quit his startup of two years because “it felt too much like work.” What? Run that by me again, because these old ears don't understand the logic. He told me the company is doing fine and the rest of the five person team are as dedicated as ever. He just wants to take a break and do his own thing. I thought he was doing his own thing!

I've never heard of someone quitting their own company because it felt too much like work. A bad business model, profitability issues, a fall out with fellow partners, 10+ years of the same thing…. fine. But too much work? Ridiculous. Good things don't magically appear. There's no such thing as a quarter life crisis. We've got to put in our dues and work like no other just for the chance of making it!

Although I do my best to empathize with folks 10+ years my junior, sometimes I just can't understand their thought process. I'm not sure if I'm stupid, or simply ancient in beliefs. Perhaps it's a little of both as each generation always seems to look at the next generation with peculiarity. If you are a Gen Yer I sure could use your perspective!

Related: Don't Make Over $400,000 A Year: You Will Suffer Too Much

Gen Y Millennials Feeling Special And Proud

If you're constantly being told you're special growing up as a Gen Y Millennial, it's going to be hard admitting blowups to your friends and family. It's hard to admit getting laid off in my generation as well, but I find we are more open with our setbacks. We open up because we need help!

Gen Y Millennials

2008-2010 were brutal times. People were getting fired left and right as firms cut costs. It was customary to pray to Paulson, Bernanke, Congress, and Obama our saviors. There is no shame in getting laid off or fired during this time period. Yet, for some reason, very few will ever admit getting retrenched.

When you read someone's bio that says they “quit their job to pursue their passions” in the fall of 2009, understand this is whale poop. Nobody quits their job when the world is coming to an end unless they are already wealthy. Certainly not a 24 year old with barely any experience who starts a site to tell you how to follow your dreams!

Nobody Quits When Times Are Brutal

Because everybody knows that nobody quits their job voluntarily during Armageddon, I wonder if Gen Y is screwing themselves by keeping quiet. Gen Y's don't hire Gen Y's.  Gen X+'s hire Gen Y's. When managers come across someone who claims they quit their job to pursue a dream during the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, the resume gets tossed into the bin due to a lack of authenticity.

It's the same way with business school students who graduate two or three years after a downturn and say they quit their jobs to go to business school. Those in hiring positions know the reason why business school applications soar 30-40% during a recession is because people are getting blown up! The bottom 10% during a recession go to business school, not the top 10%. They are surviving and maybe even thriving.

For all of you who made it through the downturn, don't be surprised if our younger, better looking friends just call us “lucky.”

Just Admit The Truth

Whenever someone senses a lie, not only will they not like you, some will go to no end to discredit you. It's much better off to say, “I was let go due to the economic downturn and decided to go pursue my dreams as a travel photographer because I had nothing to lose,” than respond with some sensational answer like, “Life is too short and I quit my job to follow my true calling.” People have a natural tendency to help those in need.

I've interviewed hundreds of candidates before and I will unequivocally tell you that all bullshitters don't pass the first round.  Bullshit detectors are tuned to the highest of sensitivity. It's also why the act of saying and writing what we don't know is a big time head scratcher.

How on earth can you talk about having a great career if you've only worked for three years? Can you really talk about the benefits of homeownership if you've never owned before? How can you talk about being such a great investor when you've only got $5,000 to invest? Don't bullshit us.

As soon as you tell the truth, you will gain advocates. Not only do you engender trust, you gain empathy.

Related: Examples Of Good Resumes That Get Jobs

Gut Things Out For The Long Term, Gen Y Millennials!

Be patient. It's ludicrous to think a 25 year old  deserves the same amount of wealth and recognition as someone who's spent 20 years longer working. I'm worried people don't get this disconnect. Compare yourself with someone your own age or with the same experience for goodness sake. Here are some examples where long term thinking triumphs.

401K portfolio

It often takes a full year before your match and vesting kicks in. After another time frame hurdle, you not only get a match but also company profit sharing. For the past 8 years, my friend Tod has receive a match + profit sharing of $23,000 a year. Add that to his $17,000 contribution and that's $40,000 a year! Multiply $40,000 a year X 8 years and that's $320,000 sitting in his 401K.

If someone keeps hopping firms every few years, they lose out on such benefits. See: How Much Should I Have Saved In My 401k By Age?

Real estate investing

Transaction costs are high in real estate thanks to a powerful lobby group which insists on charging at least a 5% commission to sell a property. Even Zillow and Trulia cannot lower such egregious pricing because they are part of the machine.

By holding real estate for decades, it's easier to digest such costs thanks to the magic of inflation and consistent debt repayment. Just look at how wealthy our grandparents got with their real estate holdings. Now compare them to the typical homeowner who owns for 5.9 years and complains why they can't make any money. See: Buy Real Estate As Young As You Possible Can

Getting An Education

If you decide on going to college, you better finish college unless you are filthy rich. You should also narrow down your desired areas of study to no more than three things and make a decision by sophomore year. Can you imagine taking out $50,000 in student loans and quitting junior year because you decide anthropology is not for you?

My close friend is just finishing up 10 years of medical school and fellowship after college to become a cardiologist in New York City. 10 years is a long time, but now at the age of 33, he'll be starting at around $350,000 a year and is set for life.

Related: Public Or Private School?

Go To Confession Already

Time is more on the side of the Young than for the rest of us bozos. However, unless there can be an admission of failure, it doesn't matter how much time a young person has, s/he is doomed.

Admit failure and mediocrity. Admit being too entitled to work hard and move on! Accept failure as a blessing as it makes each successive try that much more promising. Nobody will blame you about losing your job or living at home since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The downturn was so bad, EVERYBODY gets a free pass. Hurry up. The whole world is waiting.

Related: No Wonder Why Millennials Don't Give A Damn About Money!


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76 thoughts on “Are Gen Y Millennials Screwing Themselves On Purpose?”

  1. We live in a time where massive social and economic change can happen in a heartbeat. Some of America’s oldest and most respected institutions are fighting a war of survival. To participate in the game a high school grad has to take on significant risk in the form of student loans AND find a novel way to create real value in a world that is struggling to define itself. Working as a teen, employers valued my work ethic. Today, it still has value but seems to have taken a backseat to political sauve. I am one of the fortunate ones; bright enough to complete a STEM degree and stubborn enough to finally make a reasonable living in industry. There were many in my field that could not. The Internet reduces the costs of everything, especially labor.

    To the many that lament that employers do not about us, they never did. We are a means to an end, a sort of truck that drinks coffee and demands health benefits. The simple math is that the number of people that can add value is dwindling. And if you can’t help your group, maybe couch surfing and carving powder in Denver is not the worst use of your time.

    We’ve seen 401ks and defined benefit programs take serious haircuts when push comes to shove. I wonder what sacred cow will be sacrificed tomorrow?

  2. Wow this article is kind of surprising. I’m a Millennial who never had the luxury of feeling special or “doing what you love.” I work hard, but have been laid off– twice. I don’t think anyone in my generation expects to be laid off multiple times by their early 30’s. I have people in my life who think I did something to deserve the layoffs, as if I didn’t work hard enough. All of my coworkers and I worked hard, but we know employers don’t actually care about us.

  3. Ok, so the generation issue is less about generations, maturity, and more about technology and availability of data.

    Previous generations had to work for “how to” and thus were forced to focus on the important dreams, whims usually ended by the time you made it through chapter 1 of that library book.
    We grew up partially of need to be more focused.

    Gen yers get loads of info, with no effort. Add in the problem that half the info is incomplete or wrong, and you have gen yers thinking brain surgery is a 2 hour night course or a youtube how to video. They see people making big bucks, and with ease of info, and a couple of youtube info videos can become experts in their mind. While I am acting extreme, the subtle reality is there, gen yers get everything so easily, hard work was never an issue. They never had to research their papers at the library, or find a payphone to check in.

    The flip side is the world will change to adjust to them as a need. So old school programmers like myself will be tasked with developing a world they can be “lazy in” and if we are wise and hit it just right, we will come out ahead.

    The downside for the future, is being “special” is something reserved for gen xers and before, after all how can you compete with 7 billion other connected people in the world, and be special enough to see it. Hence gen yers have a much more difficult life, one where meaning is hard to find. Gen x made fun of the suberbs as drones and mindless people, but what we didn’t know is that we are making fun of our children.

  4. It’s funny, I’m Gen-X and the whole “do your passion for a living” idea didn’t even *exist* with my group back then. Our mentality was, “My folks kicked me out of the house at 19 to fend for myself so I must find work to get money for rent, food, and beer otherwise I’m completely screwed and will either starve to death or end up begging on the street.” People also conveniently forget about the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney recession that happened from 1989-93 where nobody our age could find any sort of job. It was brutal! Gen-X entering the workforce at the time didn’t have it easy at all–I would venture to say it was much more difficult than 2008 because there were nowhere near as many resources for education, training, social support, or job hunting. We were broke. *All the time.*
    “Do what you love…,” was a massive joke! What? Be in a band like the Ramones? They were broke too. (Green Day didn’t exist–it was unheard of that somebody could actually make money at punk rock.) Luck was when your parents felt sorry for your starving ass and deposited $20 into your back account. If I’d asked them to spot me for a $400 phone they would have laughed until they died of heart attacks.
    So maybe it depends on where you land in your gen’s spectrum, but graduating out of high school in 1990 sucked. …Big time! I don’t think I knew a single person who felt “entitled” to anything. We got loser jobs because there was no other option at all.

    1. Interesting perspective Edward. I wasn’t looking for a job in 1989-93, so it’s curious to hear about the time. So what are you ending up doing now?

      Maybe the “do what you love” mantra is really doing a disservice to the Millennial generation as they wake up 10 years later and have this “OH SHIT” moment.

  5. Frank Bonetti

    I don’t think it’s fair to characterize all Gen Y’s as being reckless job-hoppers. You may think that it is foolish to leave behind stable careers in order to ‘pursue one’s dreams’ – but this behavior can actually be beneficial if it leads to better career and business opportunities. People who play it safe by sticking it out in soul-sucking jobs are actually doing themselves a disservice since they will never reach peak productivity in fields they loath. Passion is what drives an excellent work ethic, which in turn yields high income in the long run. One has to at least like the work one does in order to put in the work necessary to become an expert.

    After graduating from college 2 years ago, I landed a job that paid $45,000. Not a ton of money obviously, but it was the most amount of money I had ever made up to that point. I was thrilled at first but soon came to hate the job and my performance suffered. It forced me to really think hard about what I wanted with my life. And then I took action.

    Fast forward 2 years and I now work in an entirely different field (programming), doing what I love, making $80,000 a year (almost twice as much). Rather than playing it safe by sticking it out in a job I hated and slowly climbing the corporate ladder, I took my financial future into my own hands by launching my own consulting business. This eventually allowed me land my current job.

    Sure, there are plenty of people who just up and quit without a plan, but some of us jump ship so that we can increase our incomes AND do something we enjoy.

  6. The world is changing. Hopefully our [Gen Y’s] aversion to busy work will help us scale down production, consumption, and aid in the deconstruction of excess.

    I think deep down a lot of Gen Y’s realize that the majority of the businesses (public or private) in this world contribute nothing positive to society, and provide no essential service. A good number of these businesses also harm society, animals, and the environment a fair bit. We [Gen Ys] need to feel intrinsically motivated, and feel that the work we are doing is actually necessary. That is impossible in most workplaces today.

    This sort of “Laziness” is a good thing, it can help curb over-production, and make us a little more environmentally friendly.

    Live Vegan, be minimalistic, scale down, bike to job you enjoy, cherish friends and family, and love every bit of life, nothing more. Fighting the natural order only leads to discord. Instinct is the only Duty, and Passion the only Motive.

  7. Christian Hermann

    If we are dealt with as ‘human resources’, we will treat companies as ‘money sources’. Its simple. Our corporate world shows no longterm commitment, so how can it be expected from us to be committed? GenYs, Millenials or whatever we are labeled are smart enough that we unconsciously or consciously know that the old system cannot sustain. We don’t trust retirement schemes, we don’t trust status quo, because we know it doesn’t exist. We don’t have the answer for the majority of people or the society as a whole, but we already have the solution for ourselves: not burning out, not engaging into the hamster wheel, not becoming a slave of an already solidified system.

    1. Great points, and I agree. In this day and age, we need to constantly be looking out for ourselves. Loyalty is dead. It’s a shame. Gen Y has it right in this respect!

  8. I’ve known many of my Gen-X contemporaries who did ridiculous things–buy $600 shoes in the ’90s while still in school to go to expensive nightclubs on the weekends, all on school loans, quit pursuing a promising career to take an interest in working on semi-old cars, go from being quite ambitious to getting shotgun-married and disappearing to a small sleepy town without a trace, and one day wake up bi-polar, quit his job that morning and sell his perfectly good car for $50.

    Also, I knew a guy 20 years my senior who was engaging in relationship dramas in his 50s that I got over in my early thirties.. bankrupted himself and then blew his head off. Is Mr. 25 year old less responsible than this guy?

    I myself quit a promising career, to move to another state & pursue the record label music dream with a band that I couldn’t see didn’t have a chance. By the time I realized what I had done, it was too late. It led to many quite interesting musical experiences and eventually a tour of the USA, but my decision definitely baffled everybody I knew.

    That said…. I dunno people growing up on a 1990s MTV-attention span are facing a world with less mentorship, structure and support in all but a few cases, and it is much more common to meet people who just don’t know what they want to do. There are exceptions, such the true-financial-wall st types, and the true-silicon valley-tech entrepreneur types, but the opportunity gap between the few and the many has become quite wide. I do think asking “why am I here” questions is a good thing, but there is a point where “why am I here” becomes a cultural crutch with no exit strategy, which is not a good thing.

    1. Jason, those first two paragraphs sound like a great drama movie!

      Perhaps there is SO MUCH to do that we don’t know what to do? The internet has made everything so accessible, I’d think self-starters who are super motivated could do so much!

  9. As a 22 year old, 5 months out of college, I can relate to the sentiment of this article all too well.

    It always astonishes me how many of my friends blow their paychecks on non-essential items just to show off and have a sense of “wealth.” They enjoying posting pictures of their new $40,000 car on Facebook, they enjoy spending their whole weekly paycheck at the bar, and they enjoy living way above their means.

    I know of someone who bought a $44,000 car…. on a $38,000 annual salary! Talk about screwing themselves!

    A lot of it stems from the social aspect of today’s world. Everything is in pictures. You need to be visual in-order for people to see your success. This is where a lot of people have it wrong. They get gratification out of other people’s emotions. Whereas, success is truly self-inflicted

    I could go on and on about what’s wrong with my fellow young adults, however, I choose not too. It gives me solace to know that I am not one of those individuals. I save with a purpose and I spend wisely. I have been extremely blessed up to this point.

    My purpose, like many other’s on this website, is to invest in myself, to build a great future, and not to waste the chances that are presented to me.

    1. Sounds like a good plan Adam!

      A $44,000 car on a $38,000 salary is jacked up! Maybe your friend actually makes over $440,000 a year as he follows my 1/10th rule for car buying? Maybe not…

      Good luck on your financial journey!

  10. I think you’re generalizing a group of people. I actually don’t know many people from my generation that are like what you describe. Maybe around here things are different. We’re “country folk” so we’ve been working since we could walk. Maybe it’s just area specific.

  11. I think it’s probably quite normal for ‘older’ people (I’m probably around your age) like us to start noticing things about the next generation or half-generation. Just like people have been doing for many, many years :)

    It’s best not to screw around with one’s career and finances when young, even though that might be a great time to take chances as well. Kind of a contradiction, perhaps. The thing is, saving dilligently and investing intelligently when younger can really seem so worth it when older. I am by no means anywhere near retirement – not by a long shot – but I’m thankful that I took things seriously when younger and saved some money and invested. The younger people that switch directions with things can be making good moves, but just failing or getting disenchanted when younger isn’t the way to go!

  12. Sam, I am a 27 year old living the dream (ha!). I have diligently worked hard for the last 5 years to be where I am. I count my lucky stars everyday that I have a job that pays decently, despite that it’s not a dream job or doesn’t fulfill me in every way. Others are luckier to work in their dream jobs, and that’s great – but we aren’t all that fortunate. We can pursue other interests in our spare time so that we can be financially independent. I have known so many people in my generation who willingly quit jobs when they do not like them, the boss, the people, etc. I’ve always felt like I didn’t have a choice – I had to prove myself to anyone who gave me an opportunity for a job! I bet we could trace this back to the environments in which we were raised and how we view opportunities and ourselves. Humility can go a long ways…

  13. I don’t think you’re delusional, but I also don’t think they’re wrong necessarily. I went through this when I was younger. I had a promising future in sales and was probably 3 or 4 years from a six figure income when I was just 21.

    But, as time passed, I discovered that even though I was really good at it, I really didn’t enjoy it… and it got a lot harder going in everyday to work.

    So, I gave it up. And, I suffered for a number of years financially for it. I bounced around for a long time and it wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I discovered what I’ll do for the rest of my life (a web developer of all things ).

    Now, your advice about time and longevity is kicking in for me. But, I think if you’re doing something you don’t really enjoy, it’ll never last anyway. Better to admit that now than later.

    I think that is one significant difference between my generation on the one before me. They’re pretty locked into the idea of working a job even if they hate… whereas, a greater number of my generation seem to prefer a job they enjoy over how much the make.

    A matter of preference I guess…

    1. Hi John, thx for your perspective. What about the other route of just “sucking it up” in a job your don’t particularly enjoy, but work on something you enjoy doing after hours and on the weekends?

      That way, you have the best of both worlds and a ton of financial flexibility.

      Also, I do appreciate your viewpoint, and if true, as is JT McGee’s point that all Gen Y needs is an iPhone, then what do the rest of us geezers care? Gen Y is happy as can be, and that is the bottom line!

      1. John Morris


        No, I totally get that point of view. That was my mom’s point of view. That’s my wife’s point of view. I even did that in a way while I taught myself PHP. But, I also get the Gen-Y point of view, as well.

        The risk I think with that approach can be the “someday syndrome”. I’ll get around to doing what I really enjoy “someday”. I’ve listened to my mom talk about what she will do “someday” my entire life. She’s over 60 and still hasn’t started.

        Sometimes “being practical” can be a really good excuse to let fear keep you from doing something you really want to. I’ve been there before myself.

        I think both approaches have risks and advantages, but for me… I’d prefer to do a little less well financially and thoroughly enjoy what I do… than the opposite. Plus, I believe that in the end I’ll do better financially anyway because now I’ve found something I really enjoy and will stick with… and your longevity idea will kick in.

        I am fully aware that I could be wrong… but, I’ll just have to find that out my stubborn self! :)

        (Also, I don’t really agree that all Gen-Ys need is an iPhone. I think some of the younger Gen-Ys maybe believe that now… but they’ll come to learn that it’s not the case.)

        1. Gotcha. I hear you on the “someday syndrom.”

          Shoot, I heard that from my mother as well, so when she was not happy with her job in her 50s, and wondering whether she should retire 5 years early, I said ABSOLUTELY MOM!

          I do think JT’s comment above is quite interesting, and if true, Gen Yers are rocking. Don’t take much to be happy besides food, shelter, and an iPhone! Good for the Bay Area economy!

          Any good PHP tips every blogger should know you can guide me towards? cheers

        2. John Morris

          I hear ya. I keep telling my mom to go for it already! Maybe “someday” she will! :)

          Re: PHP tips… hire a good developer! Lol! J/K.

          Basic stuff you’ve prob already heard.

          1. Keep everything up to date.
          2. Use plugins/themes from well-established sources
          3. Use only the plugins you need (don’t get “app-happy”)
          4. Delete plugins and themes you don’t use. They can still be used for attacks even if not activated.

          You can feel free to get in touch if you have any specific questions/issues. You have my email. :)

  14. Mandy @MoneyMasterMom

    It is hard to understand why someone would leave their own start up – perhaps they got into it because they saw the market, and the potential but wasnt really inspired by the work. I think our generation is thirsty for inspiration, and is willing to give up cash and security to get there. Inspiration is a high value item for Generation Y.

  15. Great post!

    I really don’t have a lot to add, but I agree with most of it….especially to hold out on things for the long term. People want to make fast money these days and don’t realize that sometimes it just takes patience.

    Have a great week!

  16. Sam, I’m a new fan of your blog, enjoyed your book and am re-reading it as I implement your strategies.

    I’m 52, and astounded at the ‘entitled’ attitude of ‘kids’ (yes, I’m goofing on them!) that seriously want their ‘natural sleep cycle’ to be considered by employers, clients, co-workers, etc. and think they are paid less because of their ‘youth’ instead of acknowledging their lack of experience, skills, and adding value.

    That said, may I say that I am also astounded at some of my contemporaries, and their view of those who struggle. I recently had a conversation with a 60 year-old friend, who has retired from a nice govt. job with a solid pension; he calls those who struggle “sour grapes.” He seems to feel that he has ‘earned’ everything in his life (union protection, little accountability and consequence in his job, insulated from market realities for both job and investment, etc.) Just like the ‘kids’, he is disconnected from reality; he won’t acknowledge that he is in the lifeboat, while others (even his own age) are still in the water.

    Great blog, great topic, great thread. Continued success to you!

    1. Welcome JC! You make a great point about your contemporaries w/ the attitude that everything they have is because of them, and not because of any other variables including help from friends, the government, etc.

      I definitely try and look at both sides of the fence on this site, so I appreciate you highlighting this point!

  17. For whatever reason I’ve seen this too – people currently 30 and younger quitting perfectly good jobs supposedly to “follow their passions”. Apparently they have a passion for a lot less money.

  18. Jason Clayton | frugalhabits

    “blogging is tough” certainly resonates with me. Before my first blog I had another blog that I quit after a year. It was growing and even making a little bit of money, but I grew sick of the topic and didn’t want to write anymore. I laid away for 2 years and then started a new blog – this time on something I think I can write about for multiple years. But what really drew me back, wasn’t the topic, but writing itself. It really is fun to just write, especially when it is about something that interests you.

    Sam, have you ever thought about doing a 2nd challenge for the Yaketzie members? Maybe a “Pro” challenge that lasts a year to get member to the next stage?

    1. Could be a good idea! I’m just a little wary of making blogging too much about money openly. Money makes some people go crazy or batshit crazy, especially if one hasn’t grown up with a stable source already.

  19. Hmmm, good point Jeremy. A very close friend here knew that her parents weren’t going to be able to financially bail her out if she failed, so she made sure she studied and worked hard so she wouldn’t have to depend on her parents.

    I’m excited for your app!

    1. No Gen X is the first generation that doesn’t have it better than those before us.. even in tales of woe be me, we still don’t get to have our voice heard…

  20. Good thoughts in here Sam. Btw, can you stop calling yourself old lol? You look better than most people my age!

    I believe that the problem is the rise of lifestyle design and the 4-Hour Workweek book. Don’t get me wrong, I love both and support the general themes. The problem is that nobody wants to work now. My friends mock me when I spend all day working on stuff by saying, “it’s supposed to be a 4-hour workweek!”

    I get it. But these dudes have no money and I throw back my own insults.

    Everyone around my age group (24 baby!) is busy chasing dreams and passive income. The secret is to get a degree that pays well, work crazy hours, build a business on the side, train hard, and take some risks. Most give up at the first part. I live in a college town now and all my younger friends want to do is party. There’s no time for work!

    Despite always being online, I still have a part-time gig and have worked my ass off my whole life. I missed many parties, worked all sorts of jobs, took some serious risks, and ended up in a decent position where I can rely on my blogging income now.

    1. Ha! Thx MD. Just doing the math on age.

      Let your friends mock! Use those insults as motivation!

      A 4-hour workweek is bullshit, but a great gimmick. Everybody knows that it takes longer than 4 hours a week to set up the dream. Perhaps you will eventually get there. But, if you don’t, you will at least be miles ahead of people who don’t even try.

  21. You make a good point about the extremes and X typically being in the sweet spot most often. I interview a lot of Gen Ys and I can spot BS quite easily and fortunately they are not all clueless. What I do see is Gen Ys who take jobs they don’t really want and jump ship a LOT and frequently. A lot of times this doesn’t give them the opportunity to develop a lot of skills you need to develop relationships, specialized skills, and get promoted.

    A lot of them don’t know what they want to do with their lives which I wrote about last month. Changing course is ok if its warranted, one is financially stable, and an opportunity is available. Gen Ys who are quitting on the fly without a plan just because they aren’t loving their job is not the way get ahead. And yes running a company is going to be a lot of work even if it is something you’re passionate about. Success does not happen overnight!

    1. Taking a job you don’t like to hold you over before a better job comes a long is annoying as hell for a manager! However, it’s hard to blame them. That said, A LOT of jobs are kind of crappy the first two-three years b/c you’re new, and start off at the bottom. People quit before realizing the good stuff!

  22. As a 24 yr old, I can’t believe the crap other Millenials pull sometimes. I started work with the perspective that I deserved nothing, and must earn everything. Some of my friends complain that they aren’t being paid enough even when they are starting at $60,000+. I almost feel like we shouldn’t be paid until we produce for the company we work for. I felt like I didn’t deserve my salary until I actually started producing more than my annual salary for the business. Sure, my Mom told me I was special, I just didn’t actually let it influence my professional life. Looks like most other guys my age did…

  23. I’m a cusp-er – some charts lump me in with GenX, others with Millennials – so I’m not sure that I’ve really got a team in the game here if that’s worth anything.

    I will say, that institutional changes are de-incentivizing hard work for the younger generation. I was a teacher, for a brief post grad school year, in what was at the time the 4th largest school district in the country. Not long before my brief teaching tenure, a district-wide policy was mandated that assignments could only be graded on a 4 point scale. A = 4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. It took precisely 3 seconds for students to realize they didn’t have to do nearly as much as they used to when assignments were graded on a 100 point scale with A = 90+, B = 80-89, etc…

    Consider the scenario where a kid feels okay earning a C. They turn in an assignment, get an A. Now they know they can do NOTHING for the next, because (4+0)/2 = 2 =C.

    In the old system, to get that C, a kid could only “skip” 30% of the work in order to get a C if they did everything else perfectly. So this simple change enabled students to do far less work for more credit.

    Institutionalized grade inflation. Teachers had NO say in the matter. The juniors and seniors that I taught that year are now in their early to mid-twenties… so can I really be surprised that they don’t want to work hard? They didn’t write these policy changes that incentivized laziness. Boomers and GenXers did.

    Food for thought.

    1. Interesting! Then I guess it comes down to the individual, because I sure as hell would not want to turn in an A paper, and do nothing so I can just get a C. C average leads to closed doors. I’d be determined to get another A.

      1. The C was an example, but it went further than that. For the kid to get an “A” on the report card, their average in the class had to be 3.5+. So 3.5/4 = 87.5%, so even to get an A, you had 25% more room to screw up than they used to.
        Not only that, but in this ridiculous school, any honors class automatically got an automatic boost of 1 point, and an AP class got a 2pt boost. So you had kids walking around saying they had 5.3 GPAs…. which is just ridiculous.

  24. It is acceptable to make mistakes in your 20s, but the reason should be good or at least honest! 35 is not old, wait until you catch up to me (soon to be 66 y.o.) Sticking it out is a mature response to a problem. Many people no matter what their age do immature things. If your friend gives a future employer that answer he will probably have a hard time finding a job. His statement tells me that if he is not willing to work hard for himself why would he work hard for me (employer)?

      1. Be careful, “hope” is a political slogan or sound bite! You need goals and plans that I know you have. Time goes by quickly, don’t waste it!

  25. My husband and I are both 25. All we aimed for was work that doesn’t humiliate us, is honest, and has respectful and ethical bosses (a bit harder to find sometimes). While we were unemployed my husband essentially worked at learning programming and made a project which got him his current job (of which he says he’ll gladly stay at as long as they’ll have him).

    That said, the turnover rate at my husband’s company is really fast; everyone there is 35 or younger (mostly younger), and half the staff that was there when my husband started (2 years ago) are gone now. I love his co-workers, but many of them seem to have a short attention span or are willing to sacrifice security to chase their dreams. Nothing wrong with chasing your dreams, of course. We’re doing that too, but in our spare time. It helps a lot that it’s an enjoyable job. It would be a lot harder if it was one of those soul-sucking gigs.

    My brother suffers from a bit of this mentality–he’s almost 30. I think part of the issue is that he and his wife still live with my parents, so he sees the fruits of 30+ years of labor and long hours and wants a slice of that pie. He’s never really had to do without, either; my parents would bail him out of most of his problems, whereas I pretty much avoided trouble my whole life and was usually money-conscious. Recently my mom took responsibility for setting the foundation for my brother’s problem, which surprised me, as far as the “admitting failure” part of your post. For my own failure, I have a procrastination problem. It’s not that hard to admit, but it can be frustrating.

    In fact, I’m procrastinating right now. I should rectify that. Thanks for the post!

    1. I cannot imagine being 30, married and still living with my parents. Poor wife too! Does he not feel even a little guilty for not launching his own life?

      I guess b/c he does have a wife, he might have the mentality of “why should I go establish something on my own when I got a woman who wants and loves me?”

  26. I think you’re talking about two different things in this article and I’m not sure I see the connection between them, and therefore, I’m not sure what the thesis is. Unless you’re implying that you don’t believe your friend left his start up voluntarily, but I can tell you that it wouldn’t be the first time it happened, even in the current economy.

    First, about Gen Yers leaving their jobs in a downturn just because they “feel like it.” Start ups have been a hot trend for a while now, and when I was in college, it seemed like everyone I knew was talking about starting their own start up. I wonder if many of these people (including your friend) just didn’t realize how much work it is to actually run a successful start up. Once he got into it and realized he had to work around the clock to get his business off the ground, it might not have looked like such a great job any more.

    I do know a few Gen Yers from my company who truly did leave to pursue their own passions. Some of them left to start up their own companies, but some of them moved into the mountains and went snow boarding every day for 6 months. I know that none of these people were laid off, and I was certainly curious as to how my fellow Gen Yers were so comfortable leaving a good job with benefits to pursue their own interests in a down economy. But I wasn’t very close with any of them, so I don’t know what was going through their heads.

    The other point you bring up is the Gen Yers who were laid off, but try to play it off as a decision they made so they could follow their passions. We are an arrogant bunch. Thanks to Facebook, we broadcast everything that’s going on in our lives so all our friends can comment on it and make us feel awesome about ourselves. We like bragging about our accomplishments, we don’t like broadcasting our shortcomings. But we’re just so damned addicted to Facebook that we have to post about every single thing that happens in our lives. So we’ve got to post about losing our job, but we have to spin it so it sounds like an accomplishment we can brag about. So all of a sudden it turns into “I decided to pursue my passions.” I do see some honest Facebook posts about being laid off, but I think for the most part, our Facebook/Twitter culture has made people feel very exposed to the point where it’s hard to admit failure.

    But if you’re applying for a job, you should be telling the truth. Employers know that a ton of educated, qualified people have been laid off from their jobs, and I think most would not hold it against a candidate if they’re otherwise qualified. In fact, they would probably prefer a candidate having been laid off as opposed to choosing to leave after 2 years to pursue different interests – that could indicate that you’ll be more likely to do the same thing to them.

    1. My post did ramble on, you’re right. And it’s b/c I originally started off with someone in mind who tries to make a living online by encouraging people to quit their jobs and follow their passions, and of course by his product. The problem is, his story is predicated on a lie. He didn’t quit his job. He got fired and won’t come clean. He kind of let’s it slip in future posts. All would be fine, but he keeps writing distasteful posts about how great his life is which makes many people want to barf.

      Thanks for highlighting the “arrogant bunch” point!

  27. Depending on who you ask I’m a late GenXer or an early GenYer having been born in the early 80s. I have never understood this “special little snowflake” or “prettiest pony in the parade” mentality that is so pervasive among my cohort. A sense of entitlement built up from years of being coddled by boomer parents perhaps?

    Admittedly, I hit the the grand trifecta as far as any employee should be concerned: I’m good at what I do for a living, I like what I do for a living, and people with my skills and talents are well-compensated. But it took a lot of work on top of my innate abilities and intellect to get to where I am.

    I knew before my first day on campus what my college major was going to be. The only thing that wavered was the array of minors that were but mere icing on the cake. I don’t need to quit my job to “follow my passions” because I chose a career that was already aligned with my passions.

  28. Wait, why can’t 25 year olds go through quarter-life crises? I’m very happy where I am now, but 2 years ago, I was riding out my job until I had the opportunity to move to the best coast.

    I have plenty of friends who desperately want to find out what they’re going to do with their lives, their jobs aren’t exciting and they’re considering (or already have) gone back to school to focus on something that excites them!

    I think a lot of people feel like they’ve wasted their lives working at a job that’s uninspiring because the pay was decent and their family expected it. If anything, when you’re young is the time to move around and find out what makes you happy! Less to lose, a lot to gain!

    1. Correct. A quarter-life crisis is not allowed. I’m just kidding.

      Great to hear you now believe the West Coast is the best!

      There might be less to lose now, but after several years of wanderlust, there will be A LOT to lose for the rest of your life.

  29. At the end of 2008, I quit my extremely secure and decently paying job to do something else, just because I hated it. I’m not rich, and I didn’t have any trust fund to live on, but I knew that I wouldn’t actually be ‘living’ if I had stayed in that position. So I quit and found something I liked. And yes, it was 95% due to luck that I ended up in a fabulous company that I love about 1 month after that. However, I don’t think it is right to assume that someone who says that they quit their job (even in a recession) is lying, just because you may have different priorities than they do.

    1. Correct. It’s not right to assume everybody got laid off during the recession. I didn’t say they were lying. I just said it was whale poop.

      A manager will have the bullshit detector site on the highest setting though, and I encourage humility in the interview process.

      How long did you work in your job you quit in 2008?

  30. I FINALLY got below 300K for the Yakezie Challenge (I was stuck in the 300ks for a long time) and think I’ll be able to hit 200k by 6 months, which is awesome!

    But more about the post here — I have two Gen Y cousins and man, they’re in for a rude awakening. The entitlement, the feeling that they should never have to “work” in their life (becuse you shoudl only go after passions and get paid to do that), and stuff like that, it’s not good. I think maybe older generations were a bit too miserable staying in jobs and working themselves to the bone at those miserable jobs thinking money and dependability was more important than personal happiness and passion. And Gen Y’ers are too far in the other direction. I think the middle of the road (Gen X?) is correct. You can follow dreams/passions, you can find personal happiness, but you also have to put in the hard work, yes work, and dependability counts for something too. You’re entitled to nothing. THat’s what I think anyway.

  31. I think it’s part of aging to look down at younger kids as less capable and lazier than you, look at these old quotes for example:

    “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
    authority, they show disrespect to their elders…. They no longer
    rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
    chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
    legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.”

    “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have
    no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all
    restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes
    for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for girls, they are
    forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behaviour and dress.”

    Older people make the mistake assuming that youth have more time to devote to their jobs and need less money. And some older (and younger) people discriminate on an ageist basis, and not the actual merit of the person. As an older person, you really have to remind yourself to judge people by their real abilities and not just their age. You can’t be insulted by someone who looks young being your senior in various ways. You have to stop using those lazy mental shortcuts. Those older people are probably self referencing their own lazy youths where reality was a bit different.

    We need that spare time to go out and date, we don’t have a spouse already like you do. We want to come in late because we have to go to sleep later than you do because youth social activities go late into the night, they don’t end at 9pm when the kids have to go to sleep. Married people tend to be far less social than single people, and it’s because they already have a mate to meet a good chunk of their social needs. You might have bigger bills to support a family, but we have similar expenses to pay off our significantly larger student loans, car purchases, furniture purchases, paying rent and saving for a house down payment at the same time. We don’t have a house-spouse at home to manage our households, we have to do all that shit ourselves. Older people also tend to use their senior positions as mechanisms to do less work, waste time in management meetings and get interns to do all of their work. They value ass in seat time to help justify their supervisory roles.

    As for that 25 year old, he stopped working because he didn’t enjoy his job anymore. People do that, usually it’s stupid. It has nothing to do with being 25yo, a 45yo with similar financial dependencies can do something similar.

    1. I was digging what you were saying until I read this paragraph:

      “We need that spare time to go out and date, we don’t have a spouse already like you do. We want to come in late because we have to go to sleep later than you do because youth social activities go late into the night, they don’t end at 9pm when the kids have to go to sleep. Married people tend to be far less social than single people, and it’s because they already have a mate to meet a good chunk of their social needs. You might have bigger bills to support a family, but we have similar expenses to pay off our significantly larger student loans, car purchases, furniture purchases, paying rent and saving for a house down payment at the same time. We don’t have a house-spouse at home to manage our households, we have to do all that shit ourselves. Older people also tend to use their senior positions as mechanisms to do less work, waste time in management meetings and get interns to do all of their work. They value ass in seat time to help justify their supervisory roles.”

      Really? You want to come in later to work b/c you need to go out later the night before?

      I do enjoy the other generalizations, which can definitely be true, but not always.

      Also, don’t forget my 1/10th rule for car buying!

      What’s YOUR story? Do you really believe in the entitlement?

      1. I don’t really encounter the ‘entitlement’ attitude you speak of, but I’m not part of your typical social group. I’ve seen it in other people, but I don’t really interact with those people and the ages it shows up it in are from 4-84.

        Some people mistake entitlement as pushing the boundaries to get the most you can get. You’ll kick yourself for leaving money on the table just because you were too timid. The expectation of being timid from older people to younger people holds younger people back and when I let that go, my life got better.

        The reason you want to come in later (and stay later) can be varied. Maybe your natural sleep schedule is 2am-10am and working at 11am-7pm works best for you. I know many software engineer types are like that, from 19yo-49yo. They then get irritated when someone else tries to force them to an earlier schedule so work fits their life schedule, not recognizing the reasons why they may want that schedule themselves and that they are more productive with that schedule. The lack of flexibility, especially with flexible jobs like software, can be extremely irritating.

        People also use youth as an excuse to pay us less or respect our time less, since the older people have ‘so much more’ in financial expenses or time constraints. I was trying to point out we also have other financial and time constraints that are different than yours, but can add up to a similar amount.

          1. “should your employers bend the work hours to fit your sleeping schedule”

            Yes, they should… if it is a job where it makes absolutely no difference what time of day the work gets done, as long as it gets done… and especially if the employee performs better at a slightly later hour. Telecommuting is also something that should be far more available for so many more people… as well as the 4/10 work week. There is NO LOGICAL REASON why an employee should not be able to work when and where they wish AS LONG AS the work that needs to be done is being done, and done well.

            Obviously jobs that require personal interaction with customers and such are a different story. But for MANY jobs, what I just said applies.

        1. “As an older person, you really have to remind yourself to judge people by their real abilities and not just their age” – ability is closely correlated to effort and hard work.

          “We need that spare time to go out and date” – you have the whole damn weekend AND hours after work if you don’t exercise like you should.

          “we have similar expenses to pay off our significantly larger student loans, car purchases, furniture purchases, paying rent and saving for a house down payment at the same time.” – older people had those expenses, too. They probably remember what it is like. This sounds like complaining about not being well-off without hard work. My point? They know what it takes to get there, and I feel strongly this is what Sam is saying.

          By contrast, My personal situation is a choice to invest > 70% of income and live off of less than the median *zero-income-earning household* is given for *free* every year in handouts in 2010 dollars. I don’t worry about paying loans, don’t have a car, and plan to pay cash for both a condo and a law degree (the latter just for a good challenge) by 30.

          “because youth social activities go late into the night” – that’s a choice, not anything forced, so I have no sympathy here (fellow GenYer here).

          “Maybe your natural sleep schedule is 2am-10am and working at 11am-7pm works best for you” – excuses, IMO. Hedonic adaptation. People that work night shifts? It kills me in software development when people make this argument *and* send out same-day notifications they’re “running errands” a few times a month during the workday. Maybe you don’t *feel* entitled, but think of how many people have no choice but to work straight from 5-1 without any such breaks, and while doing physical work for very little pay! I wake up every day early and put in *effective* hours where I’m actively trying to maximize my productivity to improve myself.

          After that I exercise extensively when others watch TV and get fat (and ask me to pay for the consequences). THAT is privilege, irresponsibility and institutional theft (with some hyperbole).

          I would say I agree with Sam, not that I’ve drunk the kool-aid, mostly because I came to many of the same conclusions on my own. But I guess you could consider me biased.

          “People also use youth as an excuse to pay us less or respect our time less” – I partially agree with this, but also have the gut instinct that people in early/mid twenties like myself generally don’t fully understand the huge benefits that simple life experience brings. Sure, there’s a wide range of results, but I hardly feel victimized because of age.

          “I was trying to point out we also have other financial and time constraints that are different than yours, but can add up to a similar amount.” – I wouldn’t consider any time constraints – that’s a choice. The financial constraints? I agree totally. But my approach to addressing the same issue is much different from yours. From my completely subjective viewpoint, it feels you are attempting to act rich without having first put in the work to build wealth and understand the world. I feel humbled by how little I know, and work hard to not fuck it all up.

          One of my favorite quotes is this:

          “In almost 400 interviews with mainly white, college-educated twentysomethings, [Michael Kimmel] found that the lockstep march to manhood is often interrupted by a debauched and decadelong odyssey, in which youths buddy together in search of new ways to feel like men. Actually, it’s more like all the old ways—drinking, smoking, kidding, carousing—turned up a notch in a world where adolescent demonstrations of manhood have replaced the real thing: responsibility” — Tony Dokoupil, Newsweek Aug. 30 2008

  32. WOW – an Amazing and Unbelievable story!!!!!

    To quit your OWN company because it is too difficult! That is something I have never heard and really never thought I would ever hear. Then JT above seems to totally understand the person/generation’s logic.

    I’m ever older than you Sam – mid 40’s – however until now I still considered myself young. I guess it is time to wake up and smell the coffee – I’m OLD and out of touch with the younger generation of America. (That is if they quit things that are going well but just too much work.)

    1. Sorry David, you are a middle age since the media life expectancy for me is 78-80 :) Yay!

      I couldn’t believe he quit either, b/c he also couldn’t get a job in corporate life, which is why he started this company.

  33. Sam the generational divide is nothing new, I’m sure since the beginning of time the young and the older have always felt some type of disconnect and is usually prefaced with statements such as “In my day…”. I think this is normal and natural since cultural identity is a dynamic process. The youth tend to adopt and embrace change and risk while the older tend to stay with what worked in the past and feel content in the status quo. I’m sure 20 years down the road the Gen Yer’s will say the same thing about their juniors.

    1. I just wonder how much of my ways are being stuck in the past. Yes, I believe being more open about failures and dedicating a longer time to a project is a better way. But how old is this way of thinking?

  34. I think the problem is younger people understand employers no longer care about their employees long term so they don’t care about their employers long term either. Many people my age strive for work life balance but if you do that you must realize it costs future earnings. I think many have consciously made that decision.

    1. Good to hear many have made a conscious decision about the future earnings and career sacrifice. We don’t want such folks waking up 10 years later and complaining why the world isn’t fiar.

      Good point on employers. Got to look out for #1, but quitting so soon or shirking reality is not the right way.

      1. oh, they’re going to complain, and I’m preemptively sick of it.

        “shirking reality is not the right way” – I love you, man.

        I say this in nicer ways to many friends and people with whom I’m closer, most between 18 and 27, but am mostly disappointed.

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