Am I turning 30 or retiring?
I can honestly say I have lived my twenties the way I’ve wanted to. I have moved abroad, started from the bottom, loved, been dumped, dumped, lived with strangers, lived with friends, partied like a rockstar and a reprobate, travelled without reason, learned the value of hard work and a dollar, climbed a few tiers of the ‘ladder’, all the while appearing not to have done any irreparable damage? Whilst I don’t believe an entire generation can share a mindset, it does seem like a typical decade for a privileged western Millennial.
However, something is changing in a way I had not expected. As I approach 30 more and more conversations with friends have become conversations you would expect to hear amongst 60 year old business execs, fantasising about their next life chapter. Conversations about wanting more flexibility, working with more meaning, working with your hands, going back to basics or creating something of your own, are all becoming common vernacular. I can feel it in myself and I can see it in my peers.
And businesses like Squarespace, Kickstarter, Soho Farmhouse, Cabin Porn, urban markets and adult colouring books have and will continue to be successful because of it.
Now the question is, if we all just stopped and had babies, would this not be a dilemma for us?
I am a DINK, as are most of my friends, not the name you called your brother before you discovered that a ‘Wet Willy’ was a more effective tactic. It is slightly more boring – I am a Dual Income No Kids. And we are a growing population. As people are opting to have kids later or opting out all together, it is having an impact on culture.
This period of self-reflection never existed according to the older generation. My parents never got to 30 and said “That’s it, I need to re-invent myself”. They were too busy with four kids. So, is it because kids make life fulfilling without this added layer of self-discovery?
Or is it because the culture and climate in which we have lived our twenties in has made the perfect hot-bed for the 30 year itch?
We started our careers in the prospering conditions of the recession so work has been a jump, how high type deal, even though our aspirations were walking into a leadership team. You can order anything, literally anything and therefore we haven’t used our hands more than an ikea flatpack. We haven’t seen a living vegetable in the ground, until visiting the newest farm to fork restaurant. And we have tools available to start your own business in a click of a mouse.
It is probably the combination of both that has created a perfect storm that is hovering over 30 right now. For whatever reason, it is an interesting mindset to understand.
So brands take note, there is a feeling that being a tomato farmer could be more aspirational than investment banking, so even though you might not make the change, your one tomato plant may be more important than a parking space. Or that building houses is envied more than being a computer whiz, so we might see people trading up their coding lessons for a 3D woodworking course.
It will be interesting to see how far it will go, how ballsy this generation is. Or if this cross-roads is just a blip on the radar as some of us convert from DINKs to DIKs.
Image source: Cabin Porn