Creative Approaches in Coaching Millennials - part 1
In a series of blogs, Dirk describes strategies he has seen work when confronted with the statement: "I really don't know what I want". Strategies that have helped Millennials (and their coaches!) on their way to a more meaningful life and thus to greater satisfaction.
Millennials who don't know what they want
Over the past 20 years, countless Millennials, often highly educated management trainees and 'young professionals' have said it to me: 'Dirk, my problem is that I just really don't know what I want'.
Followed by mentioning that they had already talked about it with many friends, fellow students and parents and had thought about it on their own for much longer. Or rather: brooding about it.
When I asked how they felt about it, the answer was often: 'despondent', 'worried' and/or 'depressed'. It's like Jasper Scholten writes on the front cover of his book 'The Millennial Mystery': 'young, promising, driven and yet not satisfied'.
How to deal with the statement: 'I really don't know what I want'?
Strategy 1: reframe - Millennials don't want what they know!
The good news is that millennials often do know what they don't want. Which is pretty much everything they already know. Not the careers of their parents or older colleagues, not long-term employment, and not a position where they work solo, routinely, or only in one place. This is quickly perceived as depressingly boring.
As an exercise, millennials can make a list of activities, roles, and functions they know and don't want. After they do that, they can write down the opposite of that, creating a list of what they do want.
The millennials I worked with almost all wanted the following: to make an impact, to learn a lot, to contribute to change, to see concrete results from their work, to be intellectually challenged, and to do work with and amongst people. Working in teams, preferably with a wide variety of (playful) forms of work.
The challenge then is to find a work environment with roles that reflect the above characteristics. Because many of them go by their feelings, I always recommend having many conversations with potential employers in this context.
College graduates can visit business courses, company dinners, and alumni of their sororities. Millennials with experience can use their mostly large network for introductory meetings with potential employers. During the meetings, they can get an idea of the opportunities and go by their gut.
Privately, too, Millennials often don't want what they know. They use Tinder en masse to make new contacts and become addicted to sports like CrossFit in which the Workout of the Day (WOD) is only revealed at the last minute and in which there are always new challenges to be found. During the week they are constantly looking for new ways to live ultra-healthy and on the weekends they go through the noise with booze and increasingly drugs to reach new levels of intensity. Awareness is the key word here. When they actually realize that they are addicted to new unknown heights, they can find healthier activities with which to satisfy their needs under guidance.