Work Life Balance

Why 9-5 Won’t Work For Millennials

Work Life Balance

Work/Life Balance Photo via Shutterstock

By Kern Carter

My mother is sixty something and anxiously counting down the days till she could retire her nurses uniform for good. She’s been working consistently for 40 years, and when she speaks of retiring I can sense relief still mixed with a bit of anxiety.

The sense of relief is obvious, but it boggles me that after 40 years of dedicated work, rarely calling in sick and in fact winning awards for her diligence and treatment of patients, that my mother is still concerned about whether or not she will be financially secure once she calls it quits.

I see the position my mother is in right now and as much as I admire all that she has done – raising three kids on her own on top of 60 hour work weeks – I look at her and say to myself “that can never be me.” I can not, under any circumstances, put in that amount of work to still not feel completely secure about my future. Furthermore, I don’t want to wait till the latter years of my life to be able to live with the level of freedom that comes with formal retirement.

Freedom 55 has no appeal to our generation

I believe that I speak for most Millennials when I say 9-5 isn’t enough. Please understand that when I use the term 9-5 I use it loosely to refer to restriction. The barriers that accompany the 9-5 life – feeling replaceable, not getting paid according to quality of work, scheduled breaks, the hurdles to really create measurable impact – none of these boundaries are in line with how we Millennials hope to make our mark.

We want more for ourselves, expect more from ourselves, and are willing to put in the work to ensure more is the outcome. But the work we put in can not necesssarily be quantified by hours. We aim to be judged by the impact our output creates, not the time spent in an office or workstation. We want to enjoy our lives to the fullest right now, concurrent to our most social years. Freedom 55 has no appeal to our generation.

And while others may see this as us feeling entitled, I feel that we are, and to a large degree already have, changing the way people, employers, governments define “career.” We are entitled to control our own futures, to feel certain that if we work effectively and efficiently that we will be rewarded with financial security.

So call us what you want, but by the time I am sixty something we Millennials will have changed the world more sharply then many generations before us. And we will have done so with a smile on our face every step of the way.

About the Author

Kern Carter is the author of “Thoughts of a Fractured Soul,” a modern tragedy of family, failed potential and the Millennial struggle with ambition, expectation, and the fight for independence.

More from Kern at

*This article is republished with permission from Kern Carter 

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