Why the Millennial American Dream is the Future

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It’s strange—when we started discussing “Millennials” and how we would impact the future, all the Millennials were just tweens or teens, looking with glazed-over eyes to the future. We didn’t quite know what all this meant or where it left us, it all seemed to distant.

Now, here I am and here most of us Millennials are, in the workplace or school, starting to set up lives independent from our families and former lives. Suddenly, all of the research on the ways we’re changing the workplace, socializing, everything, is all relevant and buzzing around in my mind as I try to figure out a happy medium at work between revolutionized and traditional workplace values.


I guess the obvious is true: the Millennial American Dream is the new American Dream…because it has to be. Humanity is adjusting and shaping into new form with these unique values that Gen X loves to hate. Millennials are criticized for taking on too much at once, for trying to have everything but accomplishing nothing, for living at home while paying off student debt.

Well it’s inevitable that the way we live our lives is going to change. Perhaps it’s best if we discontinue the criticism of the inevitable next generation of adults (“they’re heeerrreee…”) and take a beat to understand exactly what this may mean. Maybe all those things you thought weren’t so great about Millennials are actually some solid pieces of advice.

“Experiences Over Things”

Though Generation Z is already refuting this value by overwhelmingly preferring “things” to “experiences.” According to a 2015 Vision Critical study, this Millennial mantra has some merit. We prefer to seek fulfillment in gaining life experience. By playing an active role in our environment, and spending our money to shape our worldview by doing. This may push us farther from the need for buying real estate. It gives us more flexibility to move around and less financial commitment. This fits somewhat with Generation Y’s decreased use of credit.

While some may be skeptical about Millennial habits, isn’t this the lesson we’ve been trying to teach for all of eternity? That objects don’t matter, but your feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment do? I don’t know about you, but I’m down to start embracing this new American dream of finding that fulfillment in new and exciting journeys.

scotland edinburgh hiking millennials
I had never been out of the country before this summer, so one of my oldest friends and I went to Scotland! Neither of us had jobs, and we knew it would be good to experience this before we were tied down in any way.

This doesn’t mean elongated vacations either. Maybe it’s attending a concert instead of a new app, or taking a class instead of DIY-ing with a Youtube video. Ultimately, “experiencing” is just an annoying-sounding word that simply means taking part in something rather than watching it on a screen.

Family Remains

I’d like to throw a huge “please relax” to all the people that accuse Millennials of shunning family values , throwing caution to the wind and sterilizing themselves immediately after college. Turns out, many Millennials still want children and families, just not right away. Yes, we are delaying marriage more and more, pushing the average marrying age into the late-twenties to early 30’s.

According to Bloomberg, it’s more so that fewer women are having kids in their teens and twenties.They have them more into their thirties and even forties. While I’d speculate that the teen pregnancy drop might be partially attributed better and more universal sexual education, it is overall a deliberate movement on the part of Millennials to pursue their own paths before beginning a family.

Creativity And Business

While generations past have separated the two, Gen Y emphasizes combining passion with work for an unbeatable combination. We love to create and be entrepreneurial,

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time magazine millennials

using our artistic proficiency to generate profit. This is a dream in itself. One that individuals have been trying to accomplish for ages. But often these dreams go by the wayside and are treated as “hobbies” rather than opportunities for revenue.

Millennials are changing the way we look at creativity, and creating a lens through which we can see business ideas.


It’s all about balancing it all for Millennials. We’re working. Potentially wanting to start a family later in life. Killing it with our side hustles and getting our next degrees. We are constantly moving, inevitably busy, and undeniably motivated to keep moving forward this way.

There is less of a tendency to “settle down“, and more to keep satisfying all of these parts of our lives. Someone could argue that we take on too much. In reality, Millennials are some of the best at the balancing act. We have more working mothers, freelancers, people working from home–so many Millennials are finding ways to make it work.

Maybe we need to get it in our heads that we can’t have it all all the time. But we can try, can’t we? We value finding our ideal work/life balance that works for each individual lifestyle. With so much to accomplish and no desire to compromise our dreams, it’s up to us to innovate and find ways to make it all pan out.

Does any of this really sound that bad? Still feeling doomed, Baby Boomers? There’s no reason to fear. This may surprise you, but we Millennials actually have some pretty solid values, even if they aren’t necessarily yours. We can all stand to learn a little bit from one another. These concepts that feed into the new American Dream are great places to begin.

So go out and attend an event you’ve always wanted to see in person, invest in your passion, and slow down that relationship that’s moving too fast–do you really need that baby right this second? In the end, it’s all about living life in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. Now, what’s up with this Generation Z kids?


Sources: Vision Critical, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report – MoneyBloomberg Bently



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