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Why I Wouldn't Want To Be A 20-Something Today

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On the CBC news, Peter Mansbridge was talking to young students at UBC. He started off by describing them as the "screwed generation." Why? Because they've gone to school, sought an education, degree after degree, but at the end of the day can't find employment, and are trapped by their debt into low paying jobs, while they pursue something worthier of their qualifications.

And in many ways he is right. I wouldn't want to be a twenty-something today. Yet, he talked to some other students who have a different take on their situation. Yes, it is hard to find a job, but instead they are taking their future into their own hands and are choosing to create their own jobs through entrepreneurship. One young woman disagreed with the "screwed" definition, and reworded it saying they were a "different generation."

And that is true too. In fact, I find it encouraging that they are looking at their options and are prepared to take the plunge and make work for themselves.

I am a boomer. We didn't have role models as we entered the workforce. For many of us, we came from the "traditional" family. Dad worked and brought home the "bacon" while Mom managed the home front, taking care of the children, pets, parents... you name it. Basically all things domestic.

So we come along, and like every generation, we don't want that. We don't want to put our careers on hold. We believe we can have it all. We had no role models, but perhaps like the young woman starting her business, we believed we were different, that we could do this. " I am woman, hear me roar" was our call to action.

Well maybe not. But our kids have watched us as we exhaustingly juggle all these roles, pretzeling ourselves to be here, there and everywhere. So what happens, they don't want that. Just like we didn't want the domesticity of our mothers, they don't want the frenetic pace that we have created for ourselves.

Work-life balance becomes their mantra. Right. Well over the years, I have had to talk on this subject, and you know what. It's a myth. You can't have it all - not at the same time. It is about choices. It is about priorities. And those change. Constantly.

Now for many women, they don't have a choice. They have to work outside the home in order to keep their family financially afloat. For some the pursuit of running a business on the "side" has been their saving grace -- in terms of making some money and keeping their esteem in tact.

With each generation the pendulum swings - - often too far one way -- then it is counter-corrected and goes too far the other. What's the answer?

I wish I knew. As an entrepreneur, I obviously believe in that path, but I also know it is not for everyone. Some folks can't take the ambiguity, nor can they afford the flux in income.

I recently watched Jonathan Fields explore what advice he would give his twenty-something self, and much of what he said was to take the time and find out who you are, what matters to you, and find your unique talents, so that when you reach your thirties you have a clear vision of where you are going.

Part of me agrees with him, but part of me questions how that pays the bills, or pays off the debt you've incurred in getting these qualifications? What I would advocate is not locking yourself into a career or job, finding you don't like it, and thinking this is forever. You need to explore what is out there and not feel trapped. Plus with maturity comes clarity.

And for those who have chosen to pursue entrepreneurship, I congratulate you. I was 50 before I started my first business, and knowing what I know now, I wish I'd done it much earlier. I don't regret any of my career choices, as each one offered vital lessons I needed to learn, I just wish I'd paid more attention to my gut instinct and taken the plunge earlier.

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