How Freedom Gave Millennials Anxiety (And What To Do About It)

Millennials are both the most tech-savvy generation and the most anxious one. Somehow our generation’s freedom came with the price of anxiety, but how is it all connected?

For starters if we fail, then it’s not just our close friends and family that will know about it. It’s Sally from third grade, it’s childhood sweetheart Peter, and its teacher Bill from math who always said you would never get it right.

Freedom comes with choice. We have the choice to decide what we want to with our lives. We’re left with this endless freedom to plan out our life right from the start. And that can be a scary as hell.

The anxious generation

A study shows half of the Millennials say they deal with sleepless nights due to stress, but what are we so stressed about? Unlike our grandparents, we’re not in the middle of a world war. Unlike our parents, we don’t have to fight as hard for human rights and freedom.

It’s safe to say, we have it pretty easy. We can go to sleep at night feeling safe. We can close our eyes knowing we’ll be free to plan the next day (and all the days after that one), so what’s keeping us up at night?

Freedom equals responsibility

The thing about freedom is it takes away our right to blame other people. It gives you, and only you, the responsibiliy.

We’re all born with the same amount of freedom. Of course, there are some who have different circumstances that gives them easier options to choose from and less obstacles to deal with. Many people use this as an excuse to explain their lack of trying.

It’s true that some people are born into more privileged life circumstances than others, but you can’t use that as an excuse for not trying. And most of us know that. Some of the most successful people came from nothing.

So, you have this endless freedom to do whatever you want with your life, but how do you go about it? How do you navigate such a big decision? How will you know if you made the right one? And what do you do, if you try hard and still fail?

Mom told you that you can be anything – and you can

Our parents convinced us we could do anything. We slowly grew into a we-can-do-it-all mentality, because as kids we don’t really question anything.

Suddenly we’re in our twenties, and we’ve done everything on the check-list, and we realize maybe we can’t do everything.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make you a princess just because your dad told you that you were one your whole life. And you won’t become a president just because your mom told you that you could be one, and you kind of agreed.

There’s a difference between dreaming and setting up an actual goal that builds towards your dream.

Let’s use the president scenario as an example. The dreamer mind-set requires nothing other from you than to daydream your days way about what good a president you could be.

The other mind-set requires goal-setting and creating realistic plans. There can’t just be an end goal. There needs to smaller goals that each gives you something individually as well as bring you closer to your end goal.

Create more possible wins, because there will be many failures at first, and in most cases you simply can’t win them all.

If your goal is to become the president, then start by going for a smaller goal like becoming a politician. Once you’ve reached that goal, then create a new smaller one you can work towards as politician.

By creating a path for you with smaller goals that each brings you wins and a step closer to the end goal, you’ve set yourself up for success.

You (usually) can’t win them all, but by fulfilling other goals you’ve still created something good and valuable. You might fail at becoming the president, but you’ll could still be a successful politician.

This way you can stop being anxious about your future by focusing on smaller victories and daily plans that keeps you going.

Failures are lessons

Sometimes the thought of failure makes us anxious and keeps us from trying at all. It’s hard to be a grown up, which is why we tend to act like kids for longer than we should.

The key is to take away the pressure. Stop thinking about what happens if you fail.

Remember, if you don’t try at all then you fail too. It’s okay to try and not win, but if you don’t even join the race, then you signed yourself out of the race for no reason.

It’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not okay to let fear crumble you.

We have to put ourselves out there, but we can’t expect to get it all right in the first try.  Failure isn’t something to fear. Failure shouldn’t give us anxiety. The failure will only become a defeat, if we make that failure our last try.

“Success” said IBM founder T.J. Watson, “is on the far side of failure.”

Fail as many times as you want. You’ll grow better and better. You’ll learn. And one day you’ll win. Once you realize your dreams isn’t something to fear, then you’ll see how the anxiety starts to tone out and give you the space you’ve been taking away from yourself.

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