The other day I was talking to a driven, 30-something entrepreneur. He's been working super-hard at building a business for a few years now, and it's taking up all his time. He's got a wife and young kids and they've had short shrift as he devoted the majority of his waking hours to his business.
"It's the journey and not the destination," I reminded him.
"I know," he said. "But I'm in a hurry to get there."
It struck me that this need for instant success might be one of the chief differences between Boomers and the generations behind us.
Spurred on by success stories of young, brainy (and lucky) entrepreneurs like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Napster's Sean Parker, the young people of today aren't willing to wait. They want their billions now, and billions are how they define success.
I'm not sure our generation had the same financial goals or drive. Raised by The Greatest Generation, we tried to create something new in the 1960s. Our ideals were lofty and our vision had to do with changing the world into a kinder, gentler place.
We didn't succeed. But we did bring to the forefront the idea that the experiences we had along the way were of value and maybe even of more valuable than any achievement. That was our thought, anyway.
When I think back to my own teenage years, smack dab in the mid-1960s, my clearest recollections are of movements: the peace movement, the civil rights movement, feminism. The air was electric with change. We breathed it in and it powered our music, our art and our literature. We couldn't help but be charged up: Peace! Love! Equal rights! They were bigger than money, bigger than technology, bigger than life.
It didn't last. Eventually, we had to capitulate to the need to make a living, raise children and put them through college. But as a generation, our journey to adulthood was exciting and bigger than ourselves. It couldn't help but color our lives.
We were lucky.
Many young adults of today have inhaled the drug of fast money and even fame. A small handful will get there but most are doomed to disappointment. I feel badly that so many can't look beyond that to make their journey more joyful—and more meaningful. I'm thinking of a young person I know who would be most fulfilled in a career he's rejected because it doesn't pay big money. When I think back to my youth, what a career paid was never one of my considerations.
I'm also sad for those young people whose idols got fame and fortune via sex tapes and reality shows. It's heartbreaking that they have bought the idea that fame and wealth are goals in and of themselves and how they get there isn't important.
I hope they learn that it is.
Every older generation critiques the actions and values of younger generations. Yet, looking back over my many decades, I think we had the right idea.
It is the journey and not the destination.
Do you agree?
Carol Cassara is a writer and ordained minister who believes in living fully in every color of the rainbow. Her essays have appeared in Skirt! magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, several Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, on public radio and other venues. After a long career as a corporate communications executive, she is enjoying having more time to write, travel and just enjoy life. When she's not traveling the world, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and crazy little maltipoo. Her daily blog inspirations for creating our best lives can be found at www.carolcassara.com.