Millennials like me are the miracle generation.
We’re supposed to have all the answers and fix the world in the aftermath of March 2020’s events.
Deloitte found that 77% of US millennials have financial anxiety. They also found almost half of Gen Z and millennials are stressed out all of the time, or most of the time. Like freaking hell.
Our lives in pictures are messed up
I call it the “Dan Bilzerian Effect.” Unrealistic role models like Dan have overtaken social media and made us think we can have it all by 35. They pretend the nightmare of multitasking away at multiple goals simultaneously will work.
Any successful person will tell you they didn’t achieve ten big goals at the same time. It doesn’t work. That’s how people drop dead from a sudden heart attack.
To build a tribe these gurus post pictures of rich lifestyles, hot romance, a carefully styled office (no one knows if any work has ever been done in this fantasy office), pumping weights at the gym for four hours a day, Sigmund Freud-level psychological abilities, and endless world travel even when country borders in most places are closed.
No wonder we’re stressed out. What none of us who see these pictures are aware of is that the world around us has become a movie set. Anybody’s Lambo can be yours for 30 seconds to take a picture. You can literally walk through the gates of a mansion and snap a selfie. Or you can pay a person at a 5-star hotel concierge to snap a photo of you going to the presidential suite when you’re not even on holiday.
Hollywood fakery has become accessible to anybody with a dumbphone.
“I’m behind on where I should be at my age”
This is the catchphrase of the 2020s. I’ve heard this twice in the last week.
“But I need to buy this brand new crypto because I’m behind. When it does a 10X I can catch up to everybody else my age.”
I love crypto. But there are over 8000 of them and most, like startups, will eventually go to zero. Nobody is behind financially for their age. There isn’t some financial bible that tells you how much money you should have by a certain age.
I know people in their 40s and 50s who have lost everything and are starting again. In fact, the richest people I’ve ever met have been bankrupt at least once. None of them worried about their age versus their bank balance.
What nobody tells us is that a lot of people who are ahead financially for their age are miserable. They’ve given up all their time to be wealthy and missed out on life itself.
If you feel you’re behind financially for your age, I can guarantee you one thing: you will gamble. To get ahead you will take unnecessary risks. That risk will eventually cause you to lose even more, or wipe out your savings.
You’re not behind. You’re right where you need to be.
Good things take time to cultivate
Writer Sean Kernan points out a Navy Seal quote that says “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” This approach is how you stay in control and avoid succumbing to fear, stress, and adrenaline.
Millennials want everything too fast. In an online world where we get everything instantaneously, we’ve forgotten the power of patience. We’ve replaced patience with enormous stress.
Stress taints our actions. It causes us to adopt the “get ahead” mindset which turns fellow humans into warm bodies that must be crushed to reach a goal. This mindset explains a lot about the do-or-die army nature of the modern workforce, where wartime leaders think revenue will save the world.
My philosophy is any money-making pursuit takes at least 5 years to master. Not 30 days. Not one year. Even then you may fail. So at that snail’s pace the 35-year-old age to be rich is unrealistic for a lot of people.
Think in 5-year chunks and you’ll have less stress and more patience.
Debt and stress thrive off each other
To make a lot of money, often, the tool of debt is used. Just look at real estate. Us millennials are told we need to get rich. So we run to the bank looking for a pinstripe savior. The devil savior smiles.
“Come this way. Let’s see how much debt we can give you.”
Debt is stress.
Your ability to flex your lifestyle and be choosy about the work you do is abolished when you’re sitting on huge amounts of debt. You’ve got to stay stuck on the hamster wheel to keep paying the debt off. You’ve got to take less risks because you can’t afford anything to go wrong. Otherwise, you’ll have a banker on your back asking you why the loan repayments stopped.
I’ve demonized most debt in my mind. The bank says get debt. I see debt as handcuffs that rob everyday people of freedom, to reach a goal they don’t even understand the meaning of.
Making a lot of money has no purpose in itself. Without purpose you become pissed off when you reach your huge wealth goal and realize that a driveway full of Lambos is a snoozefest.
One area of life suffers when another one thrives
You can make a lot of money if you devote all your focus to it. The question that is missed is “what do you have to give up to do it?”
The person with the Lambo had to miss many social events, or get divorced a bunch of times, or miss their kid’s soccer games, or take advantage of someone, or tell a small white lie, or be at the office well past 5 pm.
When you exchange time for enormous amounts of money there’s always a trade-off. Work out the trade-offs to defeat the desire to be stupidly rich.
What does all this money buy you?
Let’s say you get all of this money that these gurus promise you by 35. So what? What does it give you? After your basic needs are met no amount of luxury items will magically make you love yourself and those around you.
Oh, and if you do make a lot of money you will piss a bunch of people off. They’ll hate you for your success because they don’t have it. So you could say a lot of money means stacks of enemies and critics. Do you still want the Lambo?
The best part about life is having the time to do whatever you want. It’s having the time to explore your curiosity and not be stressed out by silly money-making goals that please nobody.
The cure to this millennial stress about money: change the denominator. Measure your success in free time — not time you’ve traded for money that rots away in a savings account while inflation silently does its devil laugh.
This article is for informational purposes only, it should not be considered financial, tax or legal advice. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.