Heatwaves and snowflakes

I recently spoke with Marianne, a 29-year-old who booked in with me to get perspective on her direction in life. She is a university graduate with first-class undergrad and master’s degrees in creative writing and anthropology. She has worked in City of London as a researcher; taught English to school kids in China; and is now self-employed as a copywriter and editor. We talked about what she wanted to achieve with my coaching, and I asked her how her values guided her choices.

“My values define me. Staying true to my values means not compromising them, even if an opportunity is lucrative. Because of this I’ve been labelled a millennial snow-flake!”

“Who thinks that?”

“A couple of my parents’ business friends. Our values are different. My generation doesn’t have the same opportunities theirs had, so we’ve had to rethink what’s important to us.” 

“How do the generations compare? What are the differences?”

“Well, the obvious difference is that getting a decent job is tough. Getting the ‘right job’ is even tougher. Right job means something interesting, rewarding and meaningful that is related to what I’ve studied. My generation is better educated than any other in history, which means there is a glut of qualified job seekers. 40% of us are unemployed!”

“But you’re not. From what you tell me you are doing fairly well.”

“I am, but I don’t have the certainty and security of the baby-boomer generation. Freelance isn’t carefree, I can tell you. Rents are high, it’s tough to save up to get on the property ladder. I admit I am doing well, and mind you, I count my blessings. But many of my friends have no savings to speak of and no clear career direction, even with post-grad degrees. The uncertainty makes it especially important to have a life plan. That’s why I came to you.”

“That’s what I am here for. To help you design a life strategy.”

“I am eager to start but want to make one more gripe before we begin.”

“Go ahead.”

“Climate change. Global heating. OK, I know it’s not anything I can control or plan for, but it does concern me and people of my generation – a lot. It colours our thinking.”

“How so?”

“It makes it difficult for us to think in the long-term. I think yours is the last generation to do better than your parents’ generation. Living to an age of comfortable retirement seems unlikely to many of us. It gives us the feeling that we are looking for a place in a world where there is no room for us. I also hear the snowflake-thing when I tell that to my parents’ friends.” 

“Every generation has its challenges – its monsters to slay and its dragons to tame. The baby-boomers had The Bomb and the Vietnam war.” 

“Are you saying they had it as bad as we do?” she asked.

“No. Your generation has bigger challenges. Every generation has its own unique dilemmas. The problems may be different, but the task is always the same – rise to the challenge. This is never easy. It takes courage, effort and patience. It means taking risks and not expecting the agreement of older generations whose vision is not long-term like yours. Regardless of whether we succeed or not, taking up the challenge makes us stronger, better versions of ourselves. There is a lot of value in that.” 

“I think some of my friends might also like some help.”

 “The Dharma principles are universal, so anyone can use them. I use them in my coaching because they offer an ideal framework for making a life strategy appropriate to each individual person. But they also offer a framework for effective team building and collective activism – if for instance you are looking to organise to protect the environment. I will show you how this works when we design your framework.”

“Good. I’ll share it with my friends when its ready and get their opinion.”

“I look forward to getting their feedback. In the meantime, let’s begin work on your unique Dharma framework. Let’s start by looking at your truth, what defines you and your notion of what an ideal life means to you.”

to be continued….


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