Swimming upstream. Since we were young, Millennials have been fed the idea that the path to success is linear: go to school, work hard for good grades, secure a safe job with good benefits, have a family, and then die.
How many times have you received unsolicited advice from your parents or someone else from the Baby Boomer Generation that studying art history or creative writing in college is a waste of time?
For a multitude of reasons, Millennials struggle, understandably, with shaking off these antiquated views, going against the grain and pursuing a path that hasn’t been clearly laid out before them.
 Student Loans. According to Make Lemonade, the Class of 2016 is graduating with an average of $37,172 of student loans. Millennials want to pursue certain careers or lifestyles but this staggering amount of debt prevents them from taking financial risks. And so you’ll see Millennials choose ‘safer’ jobs, at least until their debt is under control. The shifting nature of the labour market also compounds this issue. According to this 2016 study, 46% of American workers consider themselves underemployed. Approximately 75% of them indicated that they were not using their degree in their current job, while the remaining 25% stated they were working a part-time job because they could not obtain a full-time position. As a result of both of these economic factors, Millennials are finding it difficult to chase their own ambitions and truly go after what it is they want.
 External Pressure. Although the influence of advertising has always existed, we are currently in a period of extreme hyper-consumption. Products are being stuffed down our throats every single day, from the moment we wake up and check our social media to when we turn off the television before we fall asleep. Millennials, especially those that fall on the younger end of the spectrum, are still discovering their values, beliefs and aspirations. This has become a much more difficult endeavour when with a simple tap, click and a swipe we can see what our friends are purchasing and what our role-models are endorsing. In a world that is filled with so much noise, it’s almost impossible for Millennials to concentrate on the signal.
 Underdeveloped ‘Soft’ Skills. This is related to my second point. According to the Pew Research Centre, Generation Y is on track to becoming the most educated generation to date. Yet, most college and university curriculums fail to teach students the most basic and crucial real-life skills: leadership, communication, self-motivation, and resiliency. Instead, post-secondary education concentrates on teaching students how to become obedient, follow instructions, and, if they’re lucky, to develop some basic critical thinking skills. This is insufficient. With the steady decline of permanent jobs with health and retirement benefits, educational institutions need to encourage students to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and develop skills that will make them stand out.
 Lack of Financial Literacy. Millennials need to learn about personal finance. Although someone may want to take the leap to freelancing or starting their own business, they won’t be able to without a significant amount of short-term savings and a fully-loaded emergency fund. Millennials need to understand that they won’t be able to take professional risks without practicing delayed gratification and keeping their expenses as low as possible.
Millennials often do know what kind of life they want to live, but are unable to effectively work towards that goal because of the aforementioned internal and external factors. Ultimately, whatever is holding Millennials back — whether it’s one or all of these factors — Millennials need to be less apologetic about what they really want in life and develop a practical, long-term strategy to get them there.
Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this story, you should check out www.jenonmoney.com where I write about money, work, self-development, and more. — Jen
This originally appeared on Quora.