Every generation has defining characteristics and circumstances. Millennials have experienced a level and speed of disruption that is largely unprecedented in history. No other generation has faced the swift and lasting changes that millennials have experienced; they’ve experienced global crisis and financial turmoil.
The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, stated that millennials are a “generation disrupted,” and growing up in a world of disruption with massive transformation has created a vacuum. Millennials have had to learn the art of recovery from disruption, and according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, “Millennials are the largest, most educated and most connected generation ever.”
In December 2017, I wrote an article entitled, “My Husband Died at 34. Here Are 40 Life Lessons I Learned From It.” The article went viral and has been viewed by more than 50 million people worldwide. It was voted the best article for millennials by several personal finance blogs in February 2018 and has now been expanded into a new book, Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness. This book presents a framework for figuring out the art of recovery from disruption—it is holistic wealth.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round, I indicated that millennials are the “holistic wealth generation.” Here is how I’ve defined holistic wealth in my book:
I have defined holistic wealth as a broad term. It refers to wealth that comprises various elements—financial savvy and independence, a life purpose and mission, spiritual connection and a generous demeanor—all of which lead to a greater sense of wholeness and resilience in times of difficulty, and to happiness and joy. At a basic level, holistic wealth emphasizes wealth in key aspects of life, including financial wealth; physical health, emotional and spiritual wealth; and wealth in our relationships with others as well as in our contributions to humanity. These elements are interdependent, and they are necessary building blocks. Abundance in these key areas strengthens wealth in others. Holistic wealth incorporates mindfulness into our everyday lives; it includes experiences and time for nonmaterial pursuits. Millennials and Gen Xers are embracing this trend and are naming sabbaticals or increased travel as financial goals—something that would never have been identified with financial goals in the past.
Millennials Are Holistically Wealthy Thinkers
They look for purpose and meaning in a job—and they think long-term. They look for projects and initiatives greater than themselves, greater than just your everyday goal to hit a sales target or hand in a final report. If that’s just the end-game, they’re not interested. They want to change the world. They are activists. They believe in social mobility for all groups, regardless of background, and are dismayed that certain groups still face barriers to success despite their educational qualifications or how hard they work.
Millennials and the Art of Wealth-Getting
Millennials have realized that the traditional notion of wealth—almost exclusively tied to your net worth and assets—needs to be redefined. Millennials are ambitious and want to earn a high salary and be wealthy, but they want to achieve this in a holistic way. As noted in my book:
Aristotle spoke about the “art of wealth-getting” and the need for riches to be measured by more than just acquisition of money. He states, “Originating in the use of coin, the art of getting wealth is generally thought to be chiefly concerned with it, and to be the art which produces riches and wealth; having to consider how they may be accumulated… Hence men seek after a better notion of riches and of the art of getting wealth than the mere acquisition of the coin, and they are right.”
They Look for Harmony and Balance
Millennials value work-life balance. This extends beyond just flexible workplace policies and parental leave. They value their physical and mental well-being and place a premium on prioritizing it. They also value taking the time to renew themselves by taking sabbaticals and extended breaks. In 2017, American University’s Kogod School of Business released its second “Greater Washington Millennials Index,” and out of 19 employer benefits included in the survey, millennials rated sabbaticals and telecommuting in their top five benefits.
They Value Travel and Experiences
According to the Deloitte study, “the youngest generations are no less ambitious than their predecessors; more than half want to earn high salaries and be wealthy. But their priorities have shifted. Travel and seeing the world was at the top of millennials’ list of aspirations (57%).”
They Have Championed the Great Environmental Challenges of Our Time
Millennials have been using their platforms as a force for change. According to the Deloitte study, “among 20 challenges facing society that most concern respondents on a personal level, climate change/protecting the environment/natural disasters topped the list. Twenty-nine percent cited it as a worry, seven points more than the next-highest concern: income inequality/distribution of wealth.”
They Embrace Spending/Investing Based on Values
According to the Deloitte study, “millennials and Gen Zs, in general, will patronize and support companies that align with their values. Younger generations are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to supporting businesses that make a positive impact on society. Many say they will not hesitate to lessen or end a consumer relationship when they disagree with a company’s business practices, or values.”
They Gave Birth to the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) Movement
In my new book, Holistic Wealth, I have several case studies of millennials who have embraced the FIRE movement, and the strategies they use for achieving their goals. When you think about a generation called “generation disruption,” its easy to understand why they have embraced this movement. It’s aligned with their goals and values towards having a fulfilling life and being able to enjoy their best years.
Of course, millennials, like every other generation before them, are still trying to figure out their finances and goals and how to make them work, especially trying to balance student loans, starting a family and nurturing a career. However, this is the generation that fights for equality, justice and the environment. They are the generation that believes in holistic wealth for all.
This article contains excerpts from ‘Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons To Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness’ by Keisha Blair. Copyright @ Keisha Blair.