Twentysomething: Young workers are impatient with good reason
By Ryan Healy – I have read that my generation grew up with constant change and amazing new technologies like cell phones and the Internet which caused us to not appreciate patience and experience.
I don’t buy that.
Surely there are a variety of social and cultural factors influencing impatience, but as far as I’m concerned, the big reason for all this impatience is one thing: family.
My family is the most important part of my life. My brother is my best friend. My parents are wonderful, caring people who raised me right and spent lots of time with me. When I have my own family, I will spend my time on family outings, vacations, baseball practices, piano lessons and everything else that comes with being a responsible father. These things will take a backseat to nothing, including work.
I also have a burning desire to be wildly successful in the business world. Typically, to be a huge success you must put more than eighty hours a week into your job. Balancing that with piano practice on Tuesday, a baseball game on Wednesday a dance recital on Friday, and family dinners nearly every night is just not practical.
Luckily, I am 23 years old and most likely won’t have this family until at least my mid thirties. If you do the math this leaves me with about a decade to become a successful business person. Once the wife and kids come, the career must take a backseat. This is why I’m so impatient!
The chances of me making millions of dollars in the next decade are slim; I’m not naïve enough to think it’s easy. However, this does not mean I won’t give it my best shot. For the next ten years I am going to be as impatient as I can possibly be, because maybe, just maybe, I will become the wildly successful business man that I always knew I could be.
Slowly climbing the corporate ladder is actually counter-intuitive to this type of thinking. You start young at work, no spouse, no kids and not much responsibility outside of work. Slowly you get a new title, and with it, more hours. Then you get married and have two paychecks rolling in. Then you become a VP with more responsibility and of course, more hours. After a few years of marriage, you have a kid, you get a promotion, and you work more hours. All of a sudden, your kids are on their own and you were so damn busy working for the past twenty years that you can’t even believe where the time went.
Well, at least you get that great retirement in Florida, if you make it to 65….
Luckily, my father worked for a non-profit and made his schedule fit around my basketball games and my brother’s golf matches. Despite her workload, my mother always made time for us as well. They put family before work because they were responsible parents. I will do the same. However, I will do whatever it takes to become successful before that time comes.
Best case scenario is I start some type of business and build it for ten years. When it’s time for work to take a backseat to family, I will be able to hand over the reins to my impatient apprentice and I will only work when I need to. Worst case scenario is I try to start a business, it doesn’t work out, and I either go back and get a job that allows me plenty of family time and pays enough for me to support them or I start some type of safe business that will not consume my life.
Sure there are plenty of twists and turns my life will take along the way, but I know that nothing is more important then family and working your way up so you can have tons of responsibility and no time when your kids are growing up is idiotic. I would much rather be impatient now and think of my family years as a mini retirement, than miss my children’s childhood chasing an outdated dream of retiring in Florida. There is no better time to be a success than the present, waiting around to gain “experience” is a waste of time. Impatience is an asset.
Ryan Healy’s blog is Employee Evolution.
Good Luck. I wish you the best on your "some type of business".
I don't know anyone that is "waiting around" to gain experience. I'm not sure what that means.
I now have a great business plan myself now.
1. How to teach young ones that millionaire businesses don't grow on trees.
2. How to show that impatience ruined over 80% of business start ups.
3. The joys of living on ocean front property in Florida.
Good luck buddy.
I would STRONGLY advise against waiting until you’re “at least” 35 to start a family, unless you intend to marry a much younger woman, and even then you’re pushing your luck.
Keep in mind that as the two parents get older, the chances of a child having a range of birth defects or other issues (such as autism) rise substantially. If you’re still having kids when you’re both 45 because you decided to save them until after you felt you’d gone as far as you wanted with your career, you’ll be taking a much higher chance of having to look in the mirror and realize your child has major health issues and the reason is at least in part because you chose to make work the priority.
I’m aware of some possible issues that can arise from waiting too long, but that does not mean I am going to rush into having kids, or have them before I am ready. There is no pre-written script, I just don’t see kids in the short-term future, most of my friends would say the same.
As a fellow millennial and a parent I have to say that I would advise not delaying a family on account of your career. I know what you want (trust me I want it too) but to delay what even you refer to as the most important part of your life simply for the pursuit of a great career is counter-intuitive. My wife and I chose to have a family early (by today's standards – 26). We fully realize that this is going to create challenges in our careers and finances but we are fully willing to take on those challenges to have our family.
Personally I think doing both the career and the family at the same time makes it easier to be successful at both. For me it has forced me to focus more and be more efficient in my work. I tolerate less BS and make sure I get done everything I need to in 8-10 hours a day. The rest of my time is with the family and it is the perfect ending to a day. There is nothing like spending time with your kids playing in the yard or listening to their day to wind you down or reset your daily priorities.
This all said, I fully understand what you are saying and wish you the best of luck pursuing your passions. I just suggest you reconsider your order in which you've placed those passions. After all, why delay the thing that you admit is most important to you?
Good to hear from you. You make a good point, a family will be the most important part of my life. However, it will only be this when the time is right and it is with the right person, who knows when that will be. The only issue I see with having kids when you are young is it puts more pressure on you to have a steady income stream, and with it a steady corporate job. I can survive on Ramen Noodles for a month, but I wouldn’t want my wife and kids to do the same. That being said, I commend you for starting a family at a young age and taking on a heck of a lot more responsibility then I am ready for right now. Thanks for the comment.
uhhhh…maybe impatience is a side effect of ADD. What was the point of that…er…essay? Was there some sort of universal theme I overlooked?
Consider too the opty cost of ignoring your post-education youth in lieu of your career. I can think of plenty of things you can be doing while unmarried with no kids that you will no longer have the opportunity to do once the contrary.
Also consider – you could put in 80 hrs/wk for 10 years and *not* be “a huge success”. Then what? What is “wildly successful”, anyway? Can you define your perception of “wildly successful”?
Wildly successful is doing whatever you love for as many hours a week as you would like. And being able to support yourself while doing it.
You hit the jackpot there ! I , for one agree with what you say especially “There is no better time to be a success than the present, waiting around to gain "experience" is a waste of time”
Basically, I ask myself this question, “What would be the biggest difference between the now me and the me in 15 – 20 years time when I am experienced enough to take on a senior management position ?”
The answer is not much. The intelligence that I have now and 15-20 years later should be the same.
So having say that why not challenge myself to hold a senior management role in my own company or to strive for it now?
Lastly the trend which you mentioned is also evident in Asia. I am in my late 20s and have spent my time living in Malaysia, Singapore and now Hong Kong. What i observe is that more and more of my friends and acquaintances are holding on to a day job to pay the bills and trying out entrepreneurship right after work.
Hey Ryan, here is something to consider. Traditionally, people viewed “retirement” as something like the last 20-30 years of life, where you quit working and play golf or do gardening all day. This requires saving up enormous sums of money, another thing that can suck up the first ten or twenty years of life pretty easily. Squirreling away that nest egg for when you reach old age and all the fun can “start.”
Screw that. You need to enjoy life right now, while it is happening. Read Stephen Pollan’s book “Die Broke.” If you live within your means (don’t think you need to buy a McMansion or a Beemer) and play your cards right, and always plan on doing something to earn money and help with bills, you can quit worrying about stockpiling up huge sums of wealth that you may never live to enjoy anyway. It might mean you still have to spend a few months out of the year working even when you are in your 70’s, but so what? As Pollan says, once you accept that you will do SOMEthing to bring in an income, you can do ANYthing. Get your house paid off and have a FEW investments, and you can work just enough to pay for your vacations and fun stuff. But it will free you up in your younger years to pursue the things that are important to you.
And don’t listen to these people who are telling you to breed tomorrow. Some folks will say that if you wait till you can afford kids to have them, you will never have them. Well, the fact is, some people never CAN afford them and probably should never have them. You most likely aren’t going to be one of these people – clearly you want kids and are planning wisely so that you don’t have to couple stresses about money with the stresses of parenthood. You most certainly can get into a position where you can afford kids before having them. Good work out of you for knowing what you want and going after it in a responsible manner.
I completey agree, it’s all about enjoying life right now. Some people need work to be an important part of their life, others would rather work a few hours and enjoy the rest. As long as you are doing what YOU truly enjoy nothing else matters. Thanks for the comment and support!
As a 40 year old, I can tell you the impatience does not go away…you shouldn’t think of right now as “career time” and, some point in the future as “family time.” The sooner we learn to integrate/balance/blend/manage things, the better. It’s never a good time to start a family, a business, whatever…so just do what matters now. 10 years from now…different things might matter.
Thank you, that is the best advice I have heard in a long time.
“…I just don't see kids in the short-term future, most of my friends would say the same.”
I think this says a lot about how your opinions on life are formed Ryan. Have you ever thought that your closest friends lack a wide variety of opinions on life? Being successful in the business world doesn’t equate to happiness. Having a great family without the successful career can be very rewarding. (BTW, I’m 25, have reached the career goals I set 3 years ago and can now see that career goals aren’t the only thing that is important.)
Also being in my early 20’s I have a similar perspective. I think focusing on career when you’re young is important because the earlier a business gets started the longer it has to grow. By creating a website that makes money now, I’ll be putting myself in a position to work as much or as little as I want in my 30s.
A couple thoughts. First, I don’t think it’s a gen Y thing to be impatient at age 23, I think it’s normal. I was as well at age 23 but found that because the baby boomers had all the good jobs, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to move up in a company in the early 1990s. You had to “pay your dues” first which I had no patience for when I knew I could do the jobs “right then” they had me “tracked” for in 2-3 years. So I worked to earn enough money to travel and then went to grad school — all things for “me” rather than “paying my dues” for someone else.
Now, there are more opportunities to do things for “you” career wise at age 23, which is great.
On the advice about parenting you’ve received, I agree with your stance that you should become a parent when your ready for that lifestyle. I became a parent at age 35 (with another one on the way at age 37 — and my husband a parent at age 38 and 40), because we were not ready before then. It’s working out fine.
And a great thing about waiting is that we don’t feel like we’re missing anything to be with kids. If we can’t go to a friend’s all night beer-swilling party, whatever — been there, done that. Younger parents I know sometimes feel like they’re missing out on “life” — going to clubs, backpacking through South America, building a career, etc.
The great thing about there being so many life and career choices right now is that it’s easier to do what’s right for you.
These comments are all beautiful. So many perspectives, so much wisdom. Stuff happens. It’s good to plan, and to wait until you’re ready, but you might fall in love before you mean to. Your career might take some surprising turn or other (most likely WILL). You might find that it’s very difficult to suddenly switch gears from career-first to family-first, just as some of us have trouble doing it the other way ’round. Smart 23-yr-olds (like you) will definitely continue to get *more so* as the years pass, and so while it’s terrific to set goals now, it’s also good to be open to breaking them and setting new ones as you go along. It’s way cool having so much potential, and you’re not finished yet by a long shot! I’m not either. So let the adventures begin, all y’all!!
Look out…as John Lennon says “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
You don’t know what you don’t know. Meeting my wife came at a time when I least expected it. Yet, looking back, she came at the right time.
Another point, why does one have to “slowly” climb the corporate ladder?
Smart companies promote or hire the right people. What you have to do is prove to your current employer and/or your next employer that you’re valuable. You do that by working your ass off, taking on new projects–or starting your own–that the company wants to buy into.
By the way, you don’t have to work 60hours a week to do this.
Penelope had an excellent post on this a few weeks back. Yes, you do have to do some of the yucky work. But my favorite quote came from a book called “Rules for the Road” by Eve Luppert:
“Do stupid jobs brilliantly” If you can’t do those, they’ll have a hard time buying into you.
And, if you don’t go the extra mile, someone else will–and that’s who gets promoted or hired away to a better place to work.
Hey, Life isn’t fair, but it’s pretty damn good!
Hi, I just wanted to tell you that I think your goals are great. My husband and I married before I was out of high school and we had the first our boys about three years later. We have always made it a priority to be home with them, or at least made sure we had evenings and weekends free.
My husband, Sean, wanted me to stay home with our children after we had the three of them, and I happily agreed. Our budget suffered of course, but oh well. We managed to have a great time to together and make the boys feel as if our family came first. Just recently my husbands job decided to promote him, under false pretenses. He said he would take it if he still had weekends and nights off. They agreed. One month into the new promotion and he was not only staying late and going in early, but he was working nights and weekends permanently. He has to go in for meetings on his only days off, Thursday and Friday, and it has just gotten ridiculous.
My goal is to not only bring in the extra money I always have, but to make enough to bring him home. I always appreciate hearing others stories.
Thanks for yours.
In regards to the idea of putting the career second and making time for kids and life in general you might be interested in this report called ‘Getting a Life: Understanding the downshifting phenomenon in Australia’ which was put out by the Australia Institute and can be found here: http://www.tai.org.au/documents/dp_fulltext/DP62.pdf
It details how a lot of very career focused people are ‘downshifting’ their lives to spend more time enjoying life, something that I’m sure all of us wouldn’t mind doing.
I think it’s not cell phones and internet, but rather gadgets and systems that does things faster, like fast food restaurants and automobiles. Because we are used to have these things, we are impatient every time we are in a hurry and they are not available.
The things you are writing about don’t seem compatible.
1. You probably aren’t going to make it to the top in 10 years.
2. Many in business don’t even take 20 year olds seriously.
3. If you are working crazy hours, you may have time for nothing but work (like finding a mate!)
4. Is working so bad that you only want to do it 10 years to get it over with? Why not find something you like to do and plan on doing it a while.
5. Owning your own company means you’ll be working more, not less.
6. Most of the high status/compensation jobs or businesses require long hours.
7. You can pull back on your hours, but something else must give.
You make some interesting points, Ryan. And you are entitled to lead your life the way you choose to. However, wise individuals (and I do not claim to be one of them) have kids before they hit 30s – so that before they are in their 50s, major children responsibilities are done and over with. But then (at least in Asia) children used to care for their parents so parents did not have to worry too much. However, times are a changing now.
Actually, I think, given inflation and other macro economic factors your chances of making a million is pretty strong. But that million may not go far. Hey, but that’s your definition of success, right? Making a million! I suggest you refine and think through your definition of success and what it means to you.
I was impatient once (to a certain extent I am still impatient). As soon as I completed my final year exams, I walked into a couple of small businesses and offered them my services and “make millions.” 10 years down the line in hindsight, I now see their amused faces with amusement.
We do not have to look far to see the results of impatience. Check out the stock market history. When an impatient apprentice makes a mistake, s/he is fired and a new impatient apprentice take his/her place. The valuable lesson learnt by the first apprentice is lost – and history (read mistakes) repeats itself.
Fetus becomes a baby, baby a toddler, toddler a kid, kid a youth and youth a man/woman. It takes 40 weeks for the fetus to be ready for the world outside and it takes another 17 (or 20) for that infant to grow and sustain themselves. That’s nature. It takes experience to learn business: it cannot be taught in classrooms. If you are planning to own a business, the earlier the better.
But as I said, it’s your life and you have the freedom to lead it the way you choose. But choose wisely knowing fully well the possible consequences of your actions. The last thing you want is to reach 40 and look back at the last 20 years with regret.
I agree that family is one reason why young workers are impatient, but I don’t think it applies with every family. We know that when kids become teenagers most of them become rebellious. This is a sign that most family don’t work that way.
Ryan, I once heard of a site where one can send an e-mail to himself in the future. You should send this to your self in 12 – 15 years. You’ll have a good chuckle.
If anyone wants to learn more about gen Y, I suggest they read HBR’s Got Game. You can purchase it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1578519497/?tag=ptrunk-20
Ryan…I loved your post. It’s interesting because, I am not a millenial and I am damn impatient! I agree with you about corporate america and how we have to drink the poison kool-aide, and get in lock step to be recognized or promoted. I won’t wait a lifetime for someone else to decide my destiny.
I left a large corporation for the reasons you described in your post. And I have to say that over-all it was the best decision I ever made.
As far as you waiting to have children…who are we to tell anyone what they should do. I loved my choice to start my family early. Believe it or not we were considered crazy for starting a family in our early 20s. I could not imagine having kids in my 40s which is what all of my peers are now doing.
It is all about where you are in your journey. Great Post and So Happy I found your blog!
Impatience can be a GREAT motivator if it is properly channeled. “Random” impatience is not something I would advocate. “Some type of business” needs to be refined 2 or 3 steps to something measureable and much more concrete. Being impatient is great but where is it taking you? Do you have a plan, a roadmap? You can go nowhere at light speed and it won’t mean a damn thing becasue you’ll never get “there”. Journeys are great but they also have milestones and destinations, too.
The message Posted by Pirate Jo | June 26, 2007 is so on point. I’m now 29 and 10 years ago, NEVER thought I would be where I am now: married and divorced, lost a child, multiple jobs and different career paths, illness, lost multiple family members to death (including my sister and best friend this year) and so on. Plan for the future – YES, of course! but always be open to whatever comes your way and do what feel right now; live life to the fullest (and within your means)because life is terribly fragile and I learned that lesson the hard way.
I know this post is from years ago, but I feel the same way. I am about to turn 27 and I am trying for a promotion at work. Growing up I felt that family was the one thing I wanted most, but I still haven’t gotten one. I’ve been very careful not to get pregnant or make a lot of mistakes. I watched my mother try and suport 2 children on her own, and I decided I need to be a little successful before I have children of my own. So, I went to college, and my fiance left me 3 months before the wedding, because I was at school and had 2 years left to get my degree. I graduated college, eventually got a job at a healthcare company, and I’ve had one promotion in the 3 years I’ve been there. I put in for a second promotion, which is a job of people who have been there for 10 or more years. Ambitious? Yes! But it is needed if I am going to make something of myself before I have children. As much as I hope to have someone in my life to be happy and married to, I don’t have that yet and know that I am the only one that can make myself happy. A good career is a great way to feel stable enough to have children and know I can support them, have flexible hours, health insurance and vacation time. There is nothing wrong with setting life up with success before bringing more life into the world.
You should never wait for what you want. Life is short and waiting does guarantee that you will get what you desire. Do whatever you have to do today to get what you want. Nothing else matters.