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Top 3 Things Millenials Want in Life

By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On Feb 17, 2017

Much has been written about the impact that the tech-savvy Millennial Generation (adults 19 – 35) will have on society, the workforce, and politics, but do we know what they really want in life? We turned to Christie Garton, a Gen Z/Millennial expert, author, and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund (www.1000dreamsfund.org) to give us her thoughts. Garton knows a thing or two about this very vocal and influential generation. She is the author of the best-selling college guidebook for women, “U Chic: The College Girl’s Guide to Everything” and co-author of “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever” (AMACOM 2013). Here is her article.


The Top 3 Things 20-Somethings Want In Life — And How To Get Them

By Christie Garton, Founder of the 1,000 Dreams Fund


The phrase “American Dream” is almost a hundred years old, but in 2017, it looks younger than ever.

Millennials know that the idea of “success” has changed a lot over time, even just in the last decade. They’re not looking for the same validation their parents sought. 20-somethings (and those a bit younger and older!) measure accomplishment in totally different ways. Here’s what they want in life — and how to get it right now.


#1: A happy, comfortable living space… that they can easily leave whenever it’s time


For older generations, buying a home by age 30 was a top-tier accomplishment. It was the landmark of adulthood, a symbol of financial independence and prosperity. Now? Not so much. The Washington Post summed it up nicely: “Millennial homeownership rates are way, way down. And believe it or not, that’s probably a good thing.”


While millennials aren’t averse to buying property down the road — 93% expect to “someday” do so — there are compelling reasons to wait. The Post boils it down to money, which is definitely, in part, valid. My organization, 1,000 Dreams Fund, found that nearly three-quarters of working women are still paying off student loans, which means that they already have big financial obligations to take care of. In addition, nearly 80% have credit card debt.


But actually, there are other key reasons why millennials want to live in more temporary setups. They want to travel and spend money on meaningful experiences, and renting (or living with parents) means extra monthly cash. While researching for my book, Marketing to Millennials, I found an interesting stat that millennials, more than non-millennials, have a desire to visit every continent in their lifetime (70% vs. 48%) and travel abroad as much as possible (75% v. 52%). And an around-the-world trip isn’t cheap!


But it’s not just about traveling for fun — they also want to be able to easily pick up and move for new work opportunities. After all, millennials are likely to change jobs four times by age 32! (And that stat comes from LinkedIn, so you know it’s legit.)


Basically, 20-somethings don’t want to feel trapped in one place. But it’s important to also keep in mind your long-term goals. There’s no rush to buy property but contribute to a savings account over time. That way, if you do decide to choose a more permanent spot, you won’t blow out your credit card.


#2: Respect from their parents, teachers, and bosses


Millennials hate being patronized. They don’t (usually) think they’re smarter than their elders, but they do think they are as valuable. Gone are the days where the youngest person in the room is treated like the idiot. Picture Mark Zuckerberg at 22 years old, sitting in a board room, negotiating with potential Facebook investors. Think he let them treat him like a bug?


Older generations often misinterpret this demand for respect as arrogance. They feel like, instead, young people are disrespecting them. They feel that their wisdom is being undervalued.


Both millennials and their older peers — at home, in the workplace, wherever — need to engage in dialogue. Young people don’t want to be lectured. They have a wealth of information literally at their fingertips, and they don’t want to be told the “right” way to do things.


Twenty-somethings need to understand that there’s a generational difference with the word “respect.” For example, children are now taught that it’s polite to chat with adults instead of staying quiet at the dinner table. That’s a big difference from the mid-20th century when kids were expected to “know their place.” (Here’s a cool piece on this concept.)


Millennials can attain their desired respect by proving themselves — or at least by taking steps in that direction. No parent, teacher, or boss is impressed by a plan; they’re impressed by action. Don’t just sit around thinking about a goal. Get up and get to work, and you’ll find that respect comes in return.


#3: Happiness, plain and simple


We like to assume that happiness has always been a life goal, ever since the beginning of time. But in reality, the traditional “American Dream” wasn’t really about feeling happy. It was about working really hard and eventually having some extra money to spare — which doesn’t sound quite so sexy anymore.


Millennials want happiness, and yet they’re unsatisfied. They always want more: More money, cooler job, incredible relationships. In a rapidly-changing world where perfection seems so attainable — there are so many resources, and so much information available! — 20-somethings get frustrated when they don’t have it all.


Young people need to remember that life isn’t a competition, and the easiest way to do that is to log out of Facebook. Stop looking at how other people your age are living their lives! Live yours, and live it well. Whether you’re living with your parents or renting an apartment, writing company newsletters or drafting a novel, be confident in your endeavors. The biggest advantage millennials have is the ability to choose. So choose, and pursue your path! Happiness will find its way to you.