(Image source here)
I’ve had this post rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks now. It’s a question that I’ve been thinking about every time I’ve sat and chatted with friends recently, and something that has been playing on my mind when I’ve been faced with important decisions this year.
You can barely move for think pieces and op-eds about millennial these days, and everyone has a theory about why our generation are bucking the trends that our parents and grandparents adhered to. And the thought that keeps coming back to me time and time again is this – is our generation paralysed by choice?
As my Mum likes to remind me whenever she’s complaining about her lack of grandchildren, by the time she was my age she had already given birth to me and was pregnant with my sister. At the age of 21 my Mum joined the company where she would spend the next 30 years growing her career. That same year she got engaged to my Dad, married him 12 months later, and by the time she was 23, they had already bought their first house together.
My Mum’s situation wasn’t particularly unique – in fact, when I look at my aunties and uncles or family friends who are a similar age, they all followed a pretty similar path in their twenties. They were part of a generation who progressed through life’s milestones at the same rate, give or take a year here or there.
But when I look at my own generation, we couldn’t be more different. I look around at my friends and peers and we’re all building lives on our own unique paths. Some are travelling the world, some are settling down. Some are experts in their careers and some are quitting their jobs in their 30s and starting completely from scratch. Some are starting to think about children while others are about to uproot and try something totally different.
We’re the first generation who grew up with the world wide web, and that has created so many new opportunities that just weren’t there when our parents were our age. From e-commerce to digital marketing to online content creation, new careers are popping up left right and centre. Our increasingly connected technology makes it easier to do those jobs from any far flung corners of the world, and we can keep in touch with our friend and family while we do it. There’s hardly anything that we can’t find the answer to on Google these days, and as a result, there has been a whole new boom of self-taught business owners creating careers on their own terms.
It’s seriously exciting. We’ve never had so many options available to us, both from a career and lifestyle perspective, and women in particular have benefitted. We’re no longer automatically excpected to spend our twenties at home rearing kids, and female breadwinners killing it in their careers are no longer a minority. But sometimes, I wonder if having so much choice actually just prevents us from getting started on the stuff that deep down we know we really want.
It can feel overwhelming to choose one option and stick to it thesedays when there is so much choice available, and often, that means that we just make no decision at all. I’m guilty of it myself – more than once I’ve passed on an opportunity for fear that something better will come along. Sometimes that has been the right decision, but sometimes, standing still rather than taking action has done me no good at all.
And I suppose that’s what I want to remember. Just because we have more choice these days doesn’t mean that there’s one perfect option for each of us, and believing that there is can hold us back. Sometimes it’s better to just make a decision and give it your absolute best shot. Because, surely, doing something is always better than doing nothing?