Some people have asked me how everything I’ve been working on over the last decade fits together and where it’s going. Here’s a response to that question as a summary of my work and some direction forward:
Over the last decade, I’ve come to believe as a culture, we are not adequately preparing our next generation. The first two decades of life presumably prepare someone to meet the ‘real’ world—so the quality of that preparation should become evident in the third decade of life (in young adulthood).
This does not apply to everyone, but I have seen an increasing trend of intelligent twentysomethings caught in an unexpected young adult wilderness—often by no fault of their own.
It’s a twofold problem. I believe many young people are feeling stuck because of a lack of personal identity and purpose, combined with external factors such as: economics, dominant cultural values, educational methods, parenting philosophies, and the pervasiveness of technology. Altogether, this has left a growing pack of people on the threshold of adulthood yet ironically not prepared for it.
This topic initially grabbed my attention around 2003 (when I was in my twenties) as I observed my peer group making our first splash into adulthood. I first started theorizing about The Twenties BeatDown™ thinking something different was happening historically in our times that was oddly inhibiting ‘normal’ growth and development of younger generations.
Was this true? If so, what was it? Technology? Something else? Maybe nothing at all was different and I was making this all up?
My questions led me to study the transition from adolescence to adulthood in contemporary society and the various shaping influences on human development. In my scholarly research, I found there is indeed a delay in adulthood for more people plus evidence that this trend began a few decades ago. Yet only in recent years has this phenomenon become more readily apparent. When I began my studies, social media had just hit the scene. Immediately, I began to consider the implications of relational technology on human development. Specifically, I thought such technology could cause social isolation and therefore hinder personal growth.
During this time, I bounced in and out of a financial career where I had exposure to college students and recent grads, many of whom were experiencing the exact phenomenon I had been noticing. I ended up professionally coaching college interns at the financial firm, helping them to figure out who they were and what they should do with their lives. Years later, many of these interns report feeling ahead of their peers in terms of self-awareness and confidence in making big career and life-decisions.
This unfortunate gap in which many young adults find themselves is not entirely their fault, although now is certainly the time to take responsibility for one’s own life and developmental. The Boomer generation might also take responsibility for their part in culturally creating this problem and now becoming part of the solution. It will take creative intergenerational collaboration to reverse this trend in delayed development.
If we turn a blind eye to this problem, it will just get worse.
My vision for the future is hopeful. I believe there is a critical mass of amazing young people who will know their identity and lead with purpose and integrity in the coming decades. The Millennial Generation is filled with incredibly talented people who just need some direction and cultivation of their gifts. Prepare a Future℠ is a coaching process and developmental individualization curriculum I’ve created to address some of these exact issues. In the next decade, I’d like to expand this initiative into a more comprehensive Prepare a Future℠ center and think tank to stay ahead of societal trends and equip people to lead in rapidly changing times.
If you would like to be part of this vision for change or contribute, please contact me. Or inquire if you’d like me to speak to your group of either generation.