Gen Z and Millennials approach new life milestones every year, whether becoming teens and adults, or becoming parents and professionals in their careers. We’ve also seen that the milestones they look forward to can also reflect the historical moments they’re living through: in 2021, the top life event both gens were looking forward to was the end of COVID. Last year, they were happily back to focusing on big birthdays and their health. This year, as the gens are certainly at different points in their life overall, the events they’ll be celebrating in the new year look different, too.
In YPulse’s Life Milestones and Future Plans report, we ask 13-39-year-olds which life milestones and events they are most looking forward to this year, as an open ended-question. We receive tons of answers: the summer season, a new video game release, and making a difference in their community are just a few of the things young people are excited for in the coming year, but these are the answers each gen named most frequently:
The two gens share many future milestones—for different reasons
Gen Z and Millennials share a few key milestones they’re looking forward to in the new year, including reaching milestone birthdays, plans to make more money, and just the idea of a new beginning for better luck and life. While new adventures were on Gen Z’s list last year, simply having a better year than 2022 is a new kind of milestone for these gens, who are just looking to have a year without a dramatic world event. More of Gen Z will be having their celebratory 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays, while Millennials celebrate a new decade of life entering their 30s and 40s.
Career aspirations are on the horizon for both gens, but for different reasons. For Gen Z, getting a job or starting a side hustle or business is fourth on their list and earning more money is eighth. And for many Gen Z, a job this year will be their first; 45% are now employed, up +9pts from 2022, but only 11% of Gen Z have a full-time job. In the coming year, 42% say they anticipate starting a new job—whether that means their first or hopping to a new one (as we know they are happy to do for a better offer).
For Millennials, many are excited to start a new job, side hustle, or their own business, in addition to improving their personal finances, and hopefully getting a promotion, raise, or having more success at their current job. Millennials are also leaders of new working standards after fueling the great resignation, and like Gen Z, lift each other up on social media to find career success. And after a tough year in the loom of a recession and rising prices across the board, many are looking forward to (or perhaps just crossing their fingers for) a year of financial prosperity.
Gen Z are thinking about next steps in their education
The number one milestone Gen Z are looking forward to in 2023 is graduation—which can include those from junior high, high school, and college, as it’s a top milestone for Gen Z both 13-17-years-old and 18-21-years-old. And though YPulse data shows Gen Z doesn’t believe a college degree is the most important thing to have to be successful (work experience is) they do still highly value their education. More than half of current middle school, high school, and college students tell YPulse they feel a college degree will be very or extremely valuable toward their future success. Beyond graduation, many Gen Z are excited simply to move up a grade or a level of school, and even to earn better grades in school.
Millennials are looking forward to finding or buying homes
Many Millennials say owning a home is the goal or aspiration they’re most looking forward to, making home ownership rank third for the gen behind having a good mental wellbeing and being debt free. Currently, 44% of Millennials say they own their home, but 84% of Millennials say owning a home is important to them, meaning there’s many more who are looking to get to this milestone when they can. And while marriage / engagements are also in Millennials’ top 10, and that could spur home owning, YPulse data shows Millennials certainly do not think you have to be married or engaged to live together (in fact, most believe living together should come first in relationships).
Also amongst the top milestones Millennials are looking forward to this year is having a baby / starting a family. Though YPulse data shows many young people have been delaying these milestones—particularly starting a family—that doesn’t mean it’s not important to them. In fact, 63% of 18-39-year-olds who are not parents say they want to have kids, but a range of reasons like finances and the state of the world (pandemic and other) are setting them back. But they’re not worried about it; In fact, 81% of young people agree “I don’t care in what order life milestones were done in generations past, I will do it my own way,” showing that even if they value the same milestones, they don’t feel the pressure of a pre-set timeline.