The ‘YOLO Economy’ — How Millennials are Reimagining Life Post-Pandemic


The pandemic has been taking a toll, including an emotional one, on everyone. It’s fueled by anxiety around losses of loved ones, jobs or a sense of stability and normalcy, which pushed many millennials to reevaluate their professional priorities.

See: How Each Generation Has Been Affected Financially By the PandemicFind: 22 Side Gigs That Can Make You Richer Than a Full-Time Job

The New York Times calls this phenomenon the YOLO economy, in which millennials feel more emboldened and risk prone. YOLO — an acronym for “you only live once” — seems to be the new mantra that has emerged from months of living in a state of anxiety and burnout.

“Some are abandoning cushy and stable jobs to start a new business, turn a side hustle into a full-time gig or finally work on that screenplay. Others are scoffing at their bosses’ return-to-office mandates and threatening to quit unless they’re allowed to work wherever and whenever they want,” The New York Times reports.

The article adds that this generation, feeling emboldened by rising vaccination rates, a recovering job market and bank accounts “fattened by a year of stay-at-home savings and soaring asset prices, have increased their risk appetites. And while some of them are just changing jobs, others are stepping off the career treadmill altogether.”

See: 24 Tips to Change Your Career and Land Your Dream JobFind: Small-Business Ideas for a Post-Pandemic World

Charles Jackson, President of Association for Entrepreneurship USA, tells GOBankingRates that millennials learned from their parents that hard work and sacrifice in traditional careers don’t always equal happiness.

“This pandemic has forced individuals to reevaluate their lives, careers and the goals they want to achieve, and millennials are finding creative ways to reach those goals without following the typical path in corporate America,” Jackson says. “From what we’ve seen, many who were unhappy in their current positions are now taking the initiative to start their own businesses, allowing them the freedom to live life in a way that’s fulfilling to themselves and their families. In fact, according to the U.S. Business Formation Statistics, 4.35 million new business applications were submitted in 2020, a 24.13% increase from 2019,” Jackson adds.

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See: COVID-19 Blew Up Everyone’s Plans — Guess Which Generation Is Planning to Retire Even EarlierFind: How to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance in 2021

A recent Microsoft survey finds that 41% of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer within the next year, with 46% planning to make a major pivot or career transition.

“With so much change upending people over the past year, employees are reevaluating priorities, home bases, and their entire lives,” according to the survey. “So, whether it’s due to fewer networking or career advancement opportunities, a new calling, pent-up demand, or a host of pandemic-related struggles, more people are considering their next move.”

However, not everyone has a financial safety net to be able to take those risks and reimagine their lives. While economic indicators have lately shown a reopening of the economy, there are still 8.4 million fewer jobs than pre-pandemic, according to White House economists.

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