For Millennials, Experience Is The New American Dream
For decades, people from far and wide have been chasing the “American Dream.” How that dream is defined varies slightly between sources, but the idea is no matter what situation you were born into, if you work hard and make sacrifices, you can achieve success.
Investopedia defines the American dream as the ability to “make both the large and small decisions that affect one’s life; the freedom to aspire to bigger and better things and the possibility of achieving them; the freedom to accumulate wealth; the opportunity to lead a dignified life; and the freedom to live in accordance with one’s values, even if those values are not widely held or accepted.”
For most people, this translates to being debt-free, owning a home, retiring well, having a family, and perhaps a big yard with a white picket fence. However, these ideals aren’t exactly what they appear, and millennials are highly aware that something is missing.
For instance, it’s difficult to get out of debt when you need to take on a 30-year mortgage to buy a home. Millennials are aware of this contradiction, although it doesn’t stop them from buying a home.
Although they’re interested in home ownership, you won’t find millennials spending their money on expensive home improvements. They know it will just lead to higher property taxes, and more paperwork.
What you will find is millennials renting out their homes on Airbnb to pay off their mortgage while they travel abroad.
Millennials are driven by the pursuit of experience
Half of millennials perceive the American dream to be dead, according to surveys conducted by Harvard University. Most authorities attribute this to a distrust of the government, but perhaps there’s more to the story.
It’s the experience, not the accumulation of property and money that drives millennials. It’s not that millennials have given up on their dreams, they’re just not primarily motivated by stuff.
Studies done by major banks have shown that millennials have expanded their definition of the American dream to include traveling, pursuing their passions, and living abroad.
In other words, they want experience. Their only dilemma is funding their journey.
Can the dream be achieved?
The American Dream, no matter how it’s defined, remains an ideal for many; something to aim for, but never achieved. This includes many millennials. Although they’re ambitiously dimensionalizing their conception of the American Dream, they’re still looking for ways to live it – just like everyone else.
Millennials are changing the way we do business
While they’re looking for ways to fund their journey, millennials have been highly successful in influencing and transforming the way businesses operate. For instance, they’re not satisfied with the status quo upheld by bars, so we’re seeing a new species of artisanal bars emerge to meet their expectations.
CliQue Bar and Lounge is one of the artisanal bars that emerged from millennial demand. In their observation, “The new wave of consumerism is bridled in just that: craft, and artisanal. This generation’s sustenance is founded in the craftsmanship of fine food and Mixology, and the likes of blue-color beers like Budweiser and Coors Light have been replaced with craft beer. The fresher and more creative, the better.”
Nothing’s more creative than having a tableside expert mixologist hand-crafting your drink from scratch, potentially with ingredients you thought clashed, or never considered to pair. Couple that with a rooftop fire pit, some live music, and you’ve got a millennial’s attention.
Millennials are also responsible for the massive shift toward organic and sustainable farming, demanding that restaurants serve local, fresh food to support their own communities.
Say goodbye to the status quo
It’s been said that millennials are basically killing the status quo, and it’s true. They’re even responsible for replacing the traditional 9-5 work day with working remotely from home, or even a local café. They’re forcing the world to look at new ways of running a team, and redefining how productivity is measured.
Huffington Post cites millennials as “less structured” than Boomers, with technology being a fully integrated part of their life.
Perhaps that lack of structure is the chaos needed to shake things up and bring people’s attention to what really matters in life. Of course, we all need a roof over our heads, but millennials are effectively bringing awareness to the fact that experience has value, too.