Generation Y or Millennials appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning than by what some would call happiness.
They report being less focused on financial success than they are on making a difference. A 2011 report commissioned by the Career Advisory Board and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the No. 1 factor that young adults ages 21 to 31 wanted in a successful career was a sense of meaning.
Though their managers, according to the study, continue to think that millennials are primarily motivated by money, nearly three-quarters of the young adults surveyed said that “meaningful work was among the three most important factors defining career success.”
Social psychologists define meaning as a cognitive and emotional assessment of the degree to which we feel our lives have purpose, value and impact. People who lead meaningful lives feel connected to others, to work, to a life purpose, and to the world itself.
People who said that doing things for others was important to them reported having more meaning in their lives. Workers who find their jobs meaningful are more engaged and less likely to leave their current positions.
This mind-set affects what types of careers millennials search for. Today’s young adults are hoping to go into careers that make an enduring impact on others. Millennials have been forced to reconsider what a successful life constitutes. By focusing on making a positive difference in the lives of others, rather than on more materialistic markers of success, they are setting themselves up for the meaningful life.