By: Diana Garber, JD, MSW
Millennials face real struggles when starting their career or when they find they are not on the right professional path as recently reported in the New York Times. In my private practice, I often work with 20-somethings and 30-somethings that feel “stuck” but are unsure of their next move. In our work together, we often uncover that strong environmental pressures –family, peer group and financial stressors—make it hard for people to discover what they want, what they love and what works for them.
As the NYT’s article stated, many members of the baby boomer generation would agree that much of their success came from “dumb luck” afforded to them by the economic environment of the 1970’s and 1980’s. However today’s 20-somethings, anticipating the same opportunities, have made strategic choices since childhood in order to further their resumes including what instruments to pursue, what school activities to join and what colleges to apply to. This generation, as they now stand at the front-lines of the workforce, cannot fathom that today’s opportunity often comes from chance and achievement comes from capitalizing on these fortuitous encounters.
In my work with clients, many reference the professional success their parents found and feel frustrated that achievement feels unattainable. Many often feel alone in the process, comparing themselves to a peer group that seems as if they had a plan from college graduation and made solvent decisions years earlier. Others find they don’t know “where to look” for their perfect dream job and so often stay for years in a current position, reporting they feel “frozen.”
In sessions, young professional clients and I identify their ambivalence to make changes and work to discover the origin of why. What we often find is a fear of failure of making the wrong choice. Discussing the feeling of ambivalence and the fear of failure allows clients to reflect on what is important to them, become comfortable with making a decision even if it isn’t the “perfect” one. We can all learn that we are able to rebound from even the most unforeseen outcomes and that these chances can ultimately lend themselves to different avenues for success, balance and a sense of satisfaction.
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