According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data as of 2017, millenials now hold the title of being the the most populated generation in the United State labor force (35% of the population).
What's interesting about that is a recent Gallup poll indicates that of the generations currently in the labor force, millennials are the most likely to change jobs within a year compared to other generations in the poll. It's estimated that millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.
So what gives?
Why are millennials jumping ship with their job and feeling less engaged with work compared to their counterparts?
Many cynics reading this could point to the proverbial:
- Laziness of Millennials
One big indicator is the lack of engagement with their jobs among millennials. Research indicates that only 29% of millennials are engaged at work, meaning only about three in 10 are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company. Another 16% of millennials are actively disengaged, meaning they are more or less out to do damage to their company. The majority of millennials (55%) are not engaged, leading all other generations in this category of worker engagement.
This is a powerful piece of information. It's showing that the biggest generational population in the workforce is seemingly "just showing up, punching the clock, and doing the bare minimum" in exchange for a paycheck.
Again, I'll note that there are perhaps hundreds of variables that could count for a lot of lack of engagement overall.
However — the one I want to highlight in this article is mindset. More specifically, the mindset of loving what you do vs. doing what you love.
Let's dive right in.
What does it mean to do what you love?
Maybe social media is to blame for this paradigm — I'm not exactly sure.
It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet is preaching the Good Word that you should hustle in the pursuit of doing what you love.
Heck — I know I've been guilty of it.
But how does one reconcile that with work?
Perhaps our parent's generation got it right when it comes to work:
- Work is just that — work. Work is a responsibility that everyone has to take on, that's why it's called work. You perform the job in order to exchange your output for a living.
What does it mean to love what you do?
My father is in manufacturing. He's also a Boomer. I know I've asked him,
"Are you doing what you love?"
"No — but I've learned to love what I do."
My father didn't say to himself 30 years ago that his passion was manufacturing and he was going to build a life around that. Instead — he turned something viable and that the market was looking for into something that he could learn to love and find passion with.
I know the same goes for what I do.
I'm a writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and internet cowboy (self-proclaimed).
Ask any writer — whether amateur or paid — this line of work can be difficult. Whether it be:
- Fighting and beating the battle of Resistance to write
- Finding a viable audience to ship the work
- Developing a writing routine.
- Fending off distractions
This work can be tough.
Do I enjoy writing — absolutely.
But I'll be honest — there are times I find it hard to write about what my business is about.
Some days, I would rather write about the gripes I have with the day, or write about the struggles I'm dealing with in my head. However — that's not what the audience signed up for.
Instead, I have found a way to love what I do. That has been possible by adopting the mindset of working the practice over the outcome.
Let me show you what I mean…
The average mindset of putting practice before outcome
I make a healthy living when it comes to my income on most months.
However, in full transparency, it's not always the case.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast that was interviewing Seth Godin about his new book, "The Practice: Shipping Creative Work." I'm going to paraphrase because I don't have the exact transcript in front of me. However, when asked about the idea of a practice rather than setting external goals (like I want to make 1 million dollars), Seth replied along the lines of,
"The idea of practice entails the commitment to show up — regardless of the outcome. For me, I've written over 7,500 blog posts in a row over the past 20 years. I know a blog post will go out tomorrow — it won't be there because it's the best post ever, it won't even be there because I decided to post it, it will be there because it's Friday. I haven't reconsidered that decision in the last 20 years. I don't have to have a conversation with myself as to whether there will be a blog post tomorrow or not — it will always be there."
I cannot claim that I've ever come to anything close to writing a post everyday over the last 20 years.
Hell, I don't even know if I've had the skills for 20 years to write a post a day (I was ten 20 years ago).
I have however written over 800 articles over the past 4 years.
The point I'm trying to drive home, is if you want to be a writer — if you want to be a writer who makes money in exchange for their work. Regardless of the fact that you should have considered an audience and made the work for someone who is trying to solve a certain problem.
If you want to be a writer, you need to practice what a writer does — regardless of the outcome.
The impact of the mindset
Now all of this may seem nice in theory.
Hell, a lot of things do.
"Theoretically, if you practice writing everyday — you're a writer. Okay… I get it Jon, but I'm not fully convinced."
But let's see what this looks like in a practical sense…
Below, you will see an image illustrating the power of showing up for the practice and minimizing an attachment to the outcome.
You'll notice a couple of things going on with the image.
For one, there are statistical viewing counts that are circled in green and others in blue.
- Green is to indicate viewership of over 10k views since publication
- Blue is to note articles over over 5k views since publication
Second, there are 24 different articles in the sample. I wanted to get as many as I could but I worried if I expanded the list to a certain point — it would get too small for individuals reading on a smart phone to decipher.
Finally, I have redacted the names of the articles for your benefit in this exercise.
I have done this to illustrate that it doesn't matter if you know what article it is or not (many of you follow me regularly). It's me essentially attempting to create anonymity with the article and further illustrate the importance of practice.
So what can we draw as a conclusion from this image?
Well for one, I understand having done this for 4 years, most of the work I put out isn't going to be a "hit."
This I believe connects a lot with what we started this article with earlier — that people are feeling lack of engagement with their work.
I believe this is especially true in this space with professional and amateur/side hustling writers.
I have an email list of thousands of aspiring writers and internet entrepreneurs.
Many of them will send me drafts of the work they hope to publish on platforms like Quora and Medium. I'm always happy to put a pair of fresh eyes on the work.
In full transparency — I don't suggest a lot and I'm starting to see why.
Of course there are formatting suggestions that I'll help make with the work.
When it comes to the actual piece — the most important thing is to publish it, regardless of the outcome.
Because that, when stringed together — will show that you are, in fact, a writer.
You've committed to the practice of writing. For Seth, it's been 20 years. For me, it's been just under 4.
How long has it been for you?
It doesn't matter what you do — what matters is you merely do it
So I've written many times that,
"It doesn't matter what you write about — what matters is that you simply write."
And I'm starting to see that take on many different forms.
- If you want to be a painter — what do you need to do? Paint — regardless of the outcome.
- If you want to be a runner — what do you do? Run — regardless of the outcome.
- If you want to be a writer — what do you do? Write — regardless of the outcome.
Can you setup goals with the practices you've committed to?
Of course — and you should. To quote a hero of mine,
"A goal is a dream with a deadline."
— Napoleon Hill
You can say you want to reach a certain goal by a certain time,
"I want to be able to run a sub 5 hour marathon by June, 2021"
The commitment — the practice of being a runner will get you there.
The commitment and the practice in itself isn't always going to be the easiest thing in the world.
In fact, it's most likely going to be harder than it is easy — that's why it's work. Regardless however you feel, if you made the commitment to the practice, you're on your way to becoming a professional.
When you practice the craft, whatever it is — maybe…
You can learn to love it.
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