As a marketing professional and a Millennial, I’m constantly learning about our cohort through market research. There’s always a new and enlightening consumer report detailing the behavior of our elusive demographic. We’ve overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest living generation, so it makes sense that brands want to thoroughly understand our buying and employment behaviors.
Much of the market research is amusing in its accuracy. I would, for example, be more likely to pay for an Uber than purchase a new blouse.
Other studies, however, are more troubling. With respect to our careers, research suggests that our ambition comes at the price of our overall wellbeing. And as a parenting generation, our cohort is largely ill-equipped financially. On average, Millennial parents are spending forty-two percent of their income on child care and housing, and sixty-nine percent of Millennial parents report financial stress surrounding providing a comfortable upbringing to their children. To top it off, parents are getting an average of only fifty-five minutes of “me time” per day.
It’s easy to see why Millennials are stressed. Which is why I gathered tips from successful Millennials who know how to keep overwhelm at bay. Here’s what I learned:
1. Pay Yourself First (In Time)
What do successful and balanced Millennials have in common? They all suggest taking time for self-care in the morning, before beginning their day.
“I make sure to start my day off with 20 minutes of meditation, so it’s out of the way early and I also have a clear mind to tackle the busy day ahead,” says Jia Wertz, founder of fashion brand Studio 15.
According to Aylin Cook, Senior Content Marketing Manager at PatientPop, a morning investment in self-care improves focus throughout the day.
“I find that if I rush out the door in the morning and start working, I’m less focused than when I take quiet time in the morning,” says Cook.
Just as financial literacy training suggests “paying yourself first” in order to facilitate passive financial security, paying ourselves first in time will assure we’re dedicated to our overall well-being – an investment that pays dividends in every aspect of our lives.
2. Schedule Your Downtime
Millennials are driving a change to reshape the way we live and work. Nearly a quarter of Americans now participate in the “gig economy,” meaning that at least a portion of their income is earned through freelance work on digital platforms such as Uber.
“As an entrepreneur, my work to-do list seems never-ending which makes it far too easy to keep working after hours or on weekends,” continues Jia Wertz. “It’s so important to prioritize self-care and build time into your schedule for things like meditation, working out, or simply spending time with family. Scheduling date nights with my husband allows me to prioritize time with him; simply making reservations or setting aside the time on my calendar makes me commit and forces me to walk out of the office and realize that some things actually can wait.”
3. Optimize Your Environment
Having gone to school for behavioral psychology, I often think about the way my environment affects my behavior and the behavior of those around me. A simple principle of behaviorism suggests that we are likely to behave in an environment the way we have behaved in that environment in the past.
Thus, creating a space to do certain specific things, like meditating, working out, reading, or playing games with family, will reinforce the behaviors you hope to engage in when you’re in those environments. That is, if you have a meditation space in your home that’s free of distractions, and you use this space to meditate routinely, you’ll likely find it easier to disconnect while in that context.
In addition to creating spaces that are conducive to the behaviors in which we want to engage, creating contingencies within our environment to keep us accountable is also effective. For Andrea Weisz, Senior Manager of Customer Success Operations at PatientPop, this means working out with friends.
“I meet my co-worker a couple times a week for morning yoga. When my alarm goes off, I’m more motivated to get up because I told her I’d show up.”
We’re an incredibly industrious and successful cohort – but it shouldn’t have to come at the cost of our overall wellbeing. By allocating time for yourself before others, scheduling time to do the things you love, and creating an environment that helps you unplug, you can stave off overwhelm.
Originally published on the Huffington Post on July 4, 2017.