56% of Millennials believe their generation will be the same or worse off than their parent’s generation financially. This is a far cry from the “American” value of upward mobility.
I put “American” in quotations because this is a value we’ve had so much success exporting to the rest of the world. Parents don’t just want to create copies of themselves, they want to create better copies of themselves. It’s both biological and financial evolution at work.
But what if being “better off” financially is just not as important to this generation? What if the McMansions, shiny cars, and high-end shopping malls mean less to the average 18-32 year old than they did for their parents and their grandparents before that? What if they always will? What if the trappings of financial progress are just not that important to them?
It pays (literally, and we’ll get to that) to figure out how the next generation will be better off. How will they measure progress from here on out? I doubt it will be in stock portfolios and 401(k)s – just as pensions seem so 20 years ago. While financial stability will be an important part of any generation’s big picture, what is truly valued will be transformed.
We are in a period of shifting values. And with shifting values comes an opportunity to create new value for a new set of customers. This is where there is the most opportunity in business right now. If you do the hard work of creating wealth beyond the financial, if you seek instead to create deep, enduring value that makes people’s lives meaningfully better, you can have both the purposeful change you seek and the financial reward you desire.
So what values are being raised up? Where are the opportunities? I asked:
…treating everyone the way you would want to be treated. I would love to be a generation of common sense and compassion.
— Stefanie Lin, Artsy Momma
Living life in line with my purpose instead of “sacrificing” everything for the sake of the children.
I hope that we’re better off health-wise.
For me, being ‘better off’ than my parents would mean that I create that better opportunity, that I have agency in what that opportunity should look and feel like as opposed to going where an opportunity might exist. For me, better off means having control and determination over how my life will look and the legacy I will leave.
– Sapna Mehra
It means being able to talk about feelings and being more open with others.
The real challenge is making meaning with the money, or making meaning while making the money. My parents were always generous, but the scope was more local; now we (and they) are exposed to a much broader view of need, and have to decide how we’ll respond.
— Sarah Lewis, @bookchiq
Spending most of my days in flow, focusing on immediate opportunities for action, improvising, doing work I believe in, that lights me up, and getting better and better at it, and not needing to build rigid barriers between work & play, because everything feels like play.
…being “better off” than my parent’s generation is having a society and economy that is community-driven rather than one that is at the expense of others/other people’s families.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, country(wo)men, these are your opportunities.
These are your golden tickets. Solve these problems, make this easier for people, and I’m betting you can have your world-change and your IPO too.
What would being “better off” look like to you? I encourage you to submit your answer here and you just might see it in an upcoming piece!