The 20-Somethings' New Year's Resolutions

Woman lying on grass - IS535-035
Woman lying on grass - IS535-035

It's time for us 20-somethings to, as Jay tells it, start chasing history.

Growing up, we learned how to build websites before learning to drive, drove social movements with a mouse click, and made overachieving our MO (thanks Zuckerberg). Yet we are reportedly failing every adult milestone.

We grew up during one of the best periods of economic growth only to come of age in one of the worst. We are a generation of contradictions, defined by our potential and daunted by our circumstances.

But frankly, "Generation Stuck" and "Generation Y Bother" doesn't suit us anymore.

Let's take steps this year to do it bigger and better than we ever have before.

  1. Your money: Save $100 a month for the adventure of a lifetime. Could you trade a month's worth of lattes for one of the richest investments you can make on yourself? Start a dedicated savings account, create automatic transfers every month, and when the time comes, spin the globe and point a finger.

"The fastest way to yourself is around the world," writes poet Richard Hoffman, so go somewhere that you've never been before. They say we are more entitled and narcissistic than our parents' generation; perhaps we simply need a little soul-searching (kind of like every 20-something before us).

Years ago, speeding through the streets of the Philippines, my auntie explained the art of driving (while freshening her mascara at the wheel): "Since everyone is used to driving with no rules, we get along perfectly fine." Sounded like a terrifyingly fun time to me, so I enthusiastically hopped on a motorcycle. And I never saw a single accident that summer--except for the time I drove into a fruit stand.

When we travel, we see the ordinary and extraordinary details of other people's reality, and if we're lucky, we learn something (in my case, to stick to cars).

  • Your time: Spend 10 minutes daily browsing the latest news instead of the latest memes. We all have our weaknesses -- mine is AnimalsBeingDicks and for others it's Facebook--and on average, we spend seven hours a month on social media sites.
  • What if you spent half that time -- just 10 minutes a day -- reading the news instead? And what if, instead of being vaguely familiar with news discussed at happy hour or work, you had something to say about where you stand on the freshly volatile issue of gun control or why it took so long for India to wake up.

    Make it ridiculously easy: watch CNN clips at your desk at lunch. Read Flipboard on your phone in-line at Starbucks. Switch your home screen to the New York Times.

    Strive to know as much about current events as you do about pop culture and be a part of what's moving the world. It's almost as enriching as traveling and it's free. And you know what's better than free stuff? Nothing.

  • Your talents: Do work that will matter in 10 months, or even 10 years. It's a struggle to live paycheck to paycheck, let alone make a difference in the world. We're battling rising tuition costs, lower median incomes, and stagnant unemployment rates. In short, 20-somethings are hustling.
  • Yet remarkably, 58 percent of students report they would take a pay cut to work for an employer that shares their values.

    My favorite Gen Y stereotype is the worldview that anyone can make a difference, because this time, it's true.

    We might be job-hunting and career-climbing, but everyday, I see my friends hustling to change the world. One spearheads her company's in-office "green team," another volunteers to tutor at-risk youth, and one packed his bags to work at an NGO in Thailand.

    We aren't "slacktivists" as we've been dubbed. In fact, we're setting the bar on what social activism looks like today: we spend our workdays or weekends on issues we care about, seek out and support socially conscious brands, and use social networks to spread social movements.

    say we feel personally responsible for saving the world, and 100 percent of us can do something about it. Are you putting your talents to use towards something bigger than yourself?

    In a speech to 20-somethings like us, the late Steve Jobs said:

    "'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

    What does it take for you to make today a "yes" day?

    And what if we collectively made everyday an "I give a damn" day?

    Then we can become the generation chasing history.