Why some members of Gen Z are experiencing an early life crisis. NPR

Gen Z’s work expectations and experiences differ from previous generations. That’s the reason why some members of Gen Z are going through an early life crisis.


Members of the younger generation hear complaints from their leaders.


IDENTIFIED PERSON. A Gen Z problem in the workplace. Employers report that this generation is the most difficult to work with.

INSKEEP: So we heard on the news. So NPR’s Destinee Adams looked into it.

DESTIN ADAMS, BYLINE. Generation Z – my generation, as it turns out, is clearly going through an early life crisis. I asked Tess Brigham why. He is a life coach who focuses specifically on this generation.

TESS BRIHAM: Gen Z has just entered the working world. I think you’ve all been through a lot, as we all have, but I think the pandemic and everything that’s happened in the last three years or so has really affected you, your generation, the most. And I think you’re tired, like, really, really tired.

ADAMS: The American Psychological Association reported that 9 out of 10 Gen Z adults have experienced at least one symptom of stress, including anxiety.

BRIGHAM: Anxiety makes us live in the future, and it makes us spin our wheels and worry about things that haven’t happened yet.

ADAMS: She tells her clients to journal, exercise and meditate.

BRIGHAM: Even if you think meditation will never work for me, it will. It is a practice. You notice your thoughts and let them go. Just because you have a thought like, I don’t like my job, doesn’t mean you have to listen to it, act on it, or do anything about it.

ADAMS: Brigham says that when his clients start to see a pattern, they can begin to understand what’s really going on.

BRIGHAM: I’ve seen this happen with clients where they realize their current job isn’t so bad. It was really just, like, they had to move departments, or it was just an employee that they had to get rid of.

ADAMS: While my generation is pretty outspoken, we’re not the first to struggle with work-life balance.

JEAN THOMPSON. I’m Gene Thompson. I hate to use the word balance because I don’t really believe in work-life balance. For me, it’s much more about the ebb and flow between work and life.

ADAMS: Thompson retired at age 54. He was an executive at Fidelity Investments, helping other people plan for their retirement.

THOMPSON: So I knew a lot about the financial side of retirement. And I even looked into the emotional side of retirement, but that’s the part I struggle with, not financially, but emotionally.

ADAMS: Thompson says his life was focused on work for 25 years, and he regrets it.

THOMPSON: I didn’t have any hobbies. I had no interest. I kind of lost my self-worth outside of being a corporate worker and being a mother, a sister. I didn’t know who I was. And so I regret the fact that I lost myself along the way.

ADAMS: Four out of 10 retirees with me said they regret putting work ahead of family and personal interests. Lynn Toomey, on the other hand, is a 57-year-old retired coach who doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

LYNN TOOMEY. I think there’s a segment of the population that wants, you know, if I could do it over again, I’d probably prefer life over money. I also think there are people in the population who feel they’ve done everything right, and they’ve worked so that they can retire and not worry about their finances.

ADAMS: He says it’s never too late to negotiate your best life. And for Gen Z, he says the time is right.

I’m Destiny Adams for NPR News.

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