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Millennials and the Age-30 Transition

Are you a millennial between ages 18 to 34? Are you wondering what to do with your life? 

If so, you may be experiencing the Age-30 transition. This transition from late adolescence to adulthood is extending in length due to changing economic, technological and societal uncertainties.  

During this critical period, you assess who you are and what you want to do. You can now think in abstract terms, look at reality from many angles, and consider the implications of your decisions. You may also look at time differently.  You become aware that life is finite, but you still have time to do it all! 

In North America, you are permitted to take time out, delay commitments. You experiment with romantic attractions, work at odd jobs, or try different courses in your first years at college. Adult responsibilities are put on hold so that you can feel free to experiment, explore. Flexible and inner-directed, you may be unlikely to subscribe to authoritarian values. 

Ellen studied law because her parents were lawyers, but learned that she had no interest in working in the field. So she took a timeout to travel, and rethink the direction of her life. Ellen returned from her moratorium with greater self-understanding, and renewed confidence and energy to pursue her self-determined career choice, public health nursing. 

Recent Census data in both Canada and the U.S. show that 30-year olds today, as compared to those at age 30 in 1975, are less likely to have hit many milestones that have defined adulthood in past decades. 

In 1975, the majority of 30-year-olds were working, married, living away from their parents, and had a child. Now millennials, between ages 18 to 34, are living more like the adolescents of the 1970s and earlier. Many are living at home with parents.  

Millennials are delaying marriage and family longer than previous generations. Many say they don't want children. The birth rate for women in their 20s is the slowest of any generation of young women in U.S. history. Perhaps because of their slow journey to marriage, millennials lead all generations in their share of out-of-wedlock births. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, in 2012, 47 percent of births to women in the millennial generation were non-marital, compared with 21 percent among older women. Some of this gap reflects a lifecycle effect—older women have always been less likely to give birth outside of marriage. However, the gap is also driven by a shift in behaviours in recent decades. 

The Pew survey also reports that many millennials are relatively unattached to organized politics and religion. Linked by social media, burdened by student debt, poverty and unemployment, they are in no rush to marry. Those with lower levels of income and education, lack what they deem to be a necessary prerequisite to marriage - a solid economic foundation. 

Millennials’ liberalism is apparent in their views on a range of social issues such as same-sex marriage, interracial marriage and marijuana legalization. However, their views on other social issues, including abortion and gun control, are not much different from those of older adults.

Millennials are also North America’s most racially diverse generation, a trend driven by large waves of Hispanic and Asian immigrants who have been coming to North America for the past half-century.

Despite their financial burdens, millennials tend to be economic optimists. The Pew survey reports that more than eight-in-ten say they either currently have enough money to lead the lives they want, or expect to live in the future. Some of this optimism may reflect the timeless confidence of youth.

Millennials are less likely than older generations to be affiliated with any religion. However, the majority believe that God exists. These young adults may, like previous generations, develop a stronger belief in God over the course of their lives.

The road ahead for millennials is exhilarating, conflicting, and sometimes overwhelming. The major psychological tasks of this generation, according to Erik Erikson, pioneer of life cycle theory and identity development, is attaining a mature identity. This requires exploring several options before choosing among life’s alternatives; and then committing to choices, at least for a while. 

Managing the Age-30 Transition

If you are experiencing the Age-30 Transition, ask yourself:

- What is my dream job? 

- What needs and values do I want to express in this job?

- What skills do I want to use?

- What job tasks do I want to perform?

- How much responsibility do I want (senior management, good team contributor)

- What is my ideal salary?

- Where would I like to work (downtown in a large city, rural community, in my home)

- Where can I get additional information about my career and lifestyle options?

To learn more about your desired career and lifestyle options, conduct research. Public libraries, educational institutions, private organizations, the Internet, and informational interviews with professionals in your fields of interest are good places to start. 

Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Dr. Carole Kanchier, is full of real life examples, quizzes and guidelines that show how to make wise life career decisions at age-30 and other transitions

A free copy of chapter 1, Questers Dare to Change, is available from Dr. Kanchier's web site: www.questersdaretochange.com