I recently did a training session for the leadership team and staff of Special Olympics of Southern California. One third of the participants were Millennials.  Their attentiveness to career development and life choices was personally encouraging.  These 2 things are also at the core of the present day topic of Extended Adolescence. Just as the category of adolescence was inserted between youth and adulthood around the beginning of the 20th century, so also extended adolescence has today been inserted between adolescence and adulthood.  All this has lead to the popular notion that “30 is the new 20.” But is this the case?

The answer is both yes and no.  Let me explain.

YES. It’s true that leaving home happens later than it used to.  Parents helping their 20-something children financially is commonplace.  Parent-child relationships are more connected than past generations.

However, the question that arises is this:

  • Does extended adolescence have any long-term negative effect on 20-somethings?
  • Where is the line of harmless connection to home and parents and a mindset that becomes toxic?
  • Is there an attitude that causes 20-somethings to get stuck?
  • What is harmless, and what can become harmful?
  • Is it possible that some important growth steps could be stalled, negatively impacting these emerging adults.
  • Are there steps  that Millennials in their second decade cannot afford to miss?

Even though there is nothing wrong with having a close connection to home, that does not erase the need to grow into adulthood.  There is still the need to become productive, and take advantage of future opportunities.  Thinking it will work out by starting in one’s thirties has created personal disappointment, often referred to as expectation hangover.

Neither extended lifespans nor extended home-stays negates the need for

  • Career development
  • Self-discovery
  • Choice of a life-mate – and in general –
  • Seizing control of your future in your twenties.

Everyday you are either preparing or repairing.  Getting clarity and purpose can be done living with your parents or in your own apartment.  Neglecting these realities can also happen in both locations.

The following are 3 essential mindsets to have in your twenties.

1.Take responsibility in your twenties.  This is where major learning and confidence building take place.  Don’t squander precious time…

  • Living vicariously on Facebook
  • Taking pointless jobs
  • Wasting time in random hookups
  • Thinking the future has been put on hold for you

This doesn’t build identity or confidence and they don’t automatically arrive when you hit your thirties.

“We can do anything”, plus “committing to nothing”, is a sure formula to disappointment.

2. Do the math.  Assigning your future to the stars is wishful thinking.  Life works best when we are deliberate.  And of course, nothing is guaranteed.  A productive life becomes reality by being intentional about your actions, and having a little luck.  Looking back 5 years ago what do you wish you had done? Any regrets? Well you can’t change that, or can you?

Try this! Go into the future 10 years, and from there, look back.  Where would you want your life to be?  How old would you prefer to be if you choose to select a mate?  At what age would you like to have children?  How would you like your career choice to look?  Choose 15 years from now if you prefer.  Here’s the point.  If you are not thinking about these things now, then don’t be surprised by what you didn’t know or do. Why not avoid the regrets?

3. Enjoy the most exciting time of your life. Don’t look at the twenties decade as an extension of your teen years.  They were fun!  But this decade is even more exciting!  This is not a time for developmental downtime.

This is a developmental sweet spot.

You are charting your course and making decisions that will impact the rest of your life.  And what could be more exciting than that?

Sorting things out is a lot more exciting than just goofing around.

The Millennial generation is alive and well.  You are the future leaders we will end up following.  The more you motivate yourself to make an investment in yourself, the better it will be for all of us.

So do us all a favor and empower yourself!