I am of the first generation to do worse-off financially than its parents’ generation.
I’m okay with that. There are other things that we can give to our children and the succeeding generations, hard-fought bits of wisdom that will help them avoid the same mistakes we made, and some advice regarding things they can do now to make the future easier.
This will be short and sweet, and is meant to elaborate upon a tweet thread from a few days ago that got a halfway-decent response.
Becoming an adult is a good thing. Reject the youth-worship that’s engulfed American culture for the past 50 years. It will stultify you more than nearly anything. Learn. Grow. Progress. Improve.
And sometimes . . . sometimes, listen to old guys.
Alright my friends, here we go:
- Avoid Expectation Inflation: We are living in an anomalous time of unprecedented material abundance and physical security. Our parents likely never faced hardship, and they–maybe even our grandparents–grew up in a post-World War II world where (1) prosperity seemed to happen without even trying and (2) the older generations wanted to make sure that the younger generations never experience similar hardship. This led to many of us thinking that if we just followed The Rules, we’d be similarly successful–a house bigger than our parents’, more cars, better vacations–just because! This is not the case. It seems self-evident now, but when you’re in the sea, you don’t really notice the water. It’s okay to not have exactly the same lifestyle your parents had. Or even better, if you want that lifestyle, get serious about what it takes to achieve it. The rules have changed. It’s different than when your parents were younger. That world is over. I had the misfortune to be in my teens and twenties during this transition. The transition is over. You are aware of it now. Realize that the future is what you make of it, and not a given.
- Be Serious: Don’t just think about what you want out of life and where you’d like to be. Make a plan. Bring it to life by writing it down. Make a list of where you’d like to be one year from now, five years from now, and ten years from now. Add some concrete steps you can take, or systems you can put into place, in order to get to where you want to be. Put it away for a few months and then revisit it to see where you are. The time and relative lack of responsibility that you have now won’t last forever. Lay the foundation in your 20s so you have something solid to build upon in your 30s. This ties into the next bit of advice. Continue reading “The Ladder Generation”