Instant Gratification-itis: How to Diagnose and Treat it Early for Positive Career Results

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We Gen Y-ers definitely have a case of “instant gratification-itis.” We no longer have to sit through commercials, wait for letters from friends and family who live across the country, or even for dial-up to get online. Why should we have to wait to become CEOs or work at a job that isn’t totally perfect? We should be living our dream life with our dream jobs right out of college, right?

Sadly, the world doesn’t work like that, and we can’t expect it to. We have to change our attitudes to fit the economy we found or are finding ourselves in. In a recent Quarterlife Upgrade interview, host and life coach Christine Hassler and LinkedIn ambassador and expert on millennials in the workplace Lindsey Pollak spoke on this subject. Here are some signs you might be suffering from Instant Gratification-itis and what you can do to cure yourself.

Symptoms: Lackadaisical. Lying about under the covers. Insatiable appetite for frozen yogurt.

Lindsey Pollak mentioned in her interview with Christine Hassler that she was prone to do this after she graduated from college. Having been a great student, she was used to constantly working on assignments. After college, she found to her discomfort, that she was now expected to assign herself ways to pursue a career.

Cure: Start somewhere.

You can’t expect anything to happen if you’re not putting yourself out there. What you need is experience. Often seen as that dreaded Catch-22, you can’t get hired without experience, and you can’t get experience without being hired. Start with part-time jobs, paid internships, freelance work, anything to get something on your résumé. There’s a famous theory that it’s easier to get hired when you already have a job. Get a part-time job so you can move on towards that job you’ve always wanted. Besides, you never really know what you enjoy until you actually try it. Personally, after my internship ends with AfterCollege, I am looking to get any type of job while I work freelance on my writing.

Symptoms: Desire to switch jobs because your job is “pretty good, but not exactly what you want to be doing.” Suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out).

Lindsey Pollak discussed the stereotypes associated with Gen Y-ers. One of them was the fact that we are seen as not wanting to do “grunt work.” We have to prove this stereotype wrong by focusing on being humble, modest, and respectful. This means we should stick with a job longer than a couple months, ask for help when we need it, and be polite and hardworking. Wanting something “better” is in our blood, but we have to remember that we are young and there is so much to learn. We can grow from every job we hold.

Lindsey Pollak mentions an example of a girl she was speaking to who was thinking of quitting her job. She explained that she loved her job, her boss was amazing, she was actually doing work at the magazine she was at, but she thought she would rather work on a celebrity magazine. This is the perfect example of having a job that fits 99% of your perfect job criteria, but wanting the 100%.

Cure: Take a step back and ask yourself if you’re getting good things out of your current work situation.

It’s one thing if you are working in a toxic environment. Lindsey Pollak defines a “toxic work environment” as one in which we feel physically and/or emotionally unsafe. If coworkers or the boss is abusing you, then you should definitely get out of that job. If you are not getting what you were promised, you have every right to leave. Say you were offered to be taken to meetings and included in group projects, but instead you are running around doing things like sweeping floors or grabbing coffee. Realistically these are probably going to be part of the job, so you have to get used to it, but if this is all you are doing and you are not getting any sort of professional experience, then you can classify it as a toxic work environment.

Otherwise take a step back and think about what you are learning from the experience. First of all, it looks much better on a résumé to have lasted a year. Second of all, instead of looking towards the “perfect” future, there is so much to gain from the present. If you’re being given actual assignments, allowed to shadow someone, or just in the presence of professionals who are willing to let you learn, then you should be concentrating on getting as much out of the experience as possible.

Symptoms: Laziness. Disconnect from others. (Usually brought on by copious amounts of social media usage.)

Our generation is so used to communicating through our computer screens, it can be easy to forget that there is a real person on the other end. Both Christine Hassler and Lindsey Pollak have received brusque and inappropriate messages from Gen Y-ers who forget that they are still communicating with a human being. Messages that don’t use correct grammar or punctuation. Messages demanding things. Messages that don’t offer give and take.

Cure: Approach social media networking as you would face-to-face networking.

Instead of seeing the computer screen in front of you, think of your emails as old fashioned snail-mail. Use correct punctuation and grammar. Take a moment to compose your letter in your mind before writing it. Think about why you are reaching out to the person you are writing to. Include what caused you to choose them as recipients. Give concrete details to your goals. But don’t make it too long. The person reading this email most likely receives a lot of these letters. Make sure that it is extremely easy for them to understand and see what they can do to help you. Also, make it worth their while. What will helping you do for them? Will you mention them in your next blog post?

Symptoms: Frustration and irritation towards those of other generations.

Gen Y-ers are increasingly finding themselves in leadership roles. This sometimes leads them to manage those generations that are older than themselves. Because we are used to such quick results and tech-savvy communication, we can become aggravated with the way these other generations work.

Cure: Manage each person as an individual.

We have to remember that everyone is an individual and has a different way of working. The best way to manage a team is to not manage them as a team, but to see them as individuals and take the time to understand how they work.

Also, the “old-school” method of having difficult conversations face-to-face should be kept intact. This means that firing a person over IM is not a good way to be a Gen Y leader.

The first step is the diagnosis. Once you realize that you have Instant Gratification-itis, you can start on the road to recovery. Through the wisdom and experience of Christine Hassler, Lindsey Pollak and their discussion via Quarterlife Upgrade, we have been able to diagnose certain symptoms and identify their cures. Keep in mind that there are many other symptoms connected with Instant Gratification-itis and the best cure out there is to be aware. Awareness of this disease means you have the ability to stop it and become a better and better part of your working generation.

Take Action! Did you identify with any of these symptoms? If so, begin working on the cure. Create a plan that will help to find your way in the working world. Remember that it’s much easier if you break down a big project into smaller pieces. Take it a step at a time.

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