If an otherwise pleasant and reasonably intelligent 19 to 23 year old young adult has shown very little inclination in their teen years to be an achiever or go getter socially, financially, or academically, and is mostly a reactive vs a proactive person who waits until the last moment to get anything done, and only moves to do something when other people or circumstances force them to act, is there any reason to think that this behavioral trait will change as they get older?
In many cases yes. People mature as they grow older. One of my next door neighbor’s kids was a lazy and unmotivated brat in his late teens. I could hear him partying every weekend from my window. I could hear her arguments with him at least once a week.
Today’s he’s twenty-six, a college graduate, gainfully employed and just married. He came to visit his the mom for the holidays and all is well.
Yeah, I think so. You’ve described my daughter. Example: In her late teens and early twenties, she refused to keep a job in the summer. She was in her mid-thirties before she was able to prioritize like an adult. She’s fine now. She’s kept the same job for about seven years and only misses when she’s really sick. I think it’s been a couple of years since she missed a day.
Actually, that’s what it took – a job where she feels needed and appreciated. I think that’s what works for a lot of people to turn them around, knowing that what you do affects other people, whether it’s work or relationships. You have to know that what you do matters.
I think having kids has this transforming effect on a lot of people.
Sure. A mortgage focuses the mind beautifully.
Furthermore, people today grow up slower than people did 50 years ago. Any time people talk about kids today “growing up too fast,” this is a bunch of bullshit. It is the exact opposite. Childhood is prolonged. College is another four years of high school. The few years after graduating college are not the immediate placement into a professional job that it would have been in 1955 - they are, instead, four more years of the same kind of slacking and partying as in college, except accompanied by indifferent, usually short-term jobs instead of classwork, and a floundering sense of “when am I going to join the real world?” Scores of hipster movies are now starting to play off of this new generation of twentysomethings who are unsure of their place in life and don’t really feel grown-up. (Everything by Judd Apatow, for instance.) It is a definite theme in the times we live in.
It didn’t with me ;).
I half-jest, but only half. More responsible? Sure. More proactive, to the point of being able to take care of themselves? Absolutely.
But basic personality only rarely changes radically in my experience. I believe go-getters are more born than than trained. I’m a fully functioning adult with a paid-on-time mortgage and a good steady job of nearly 20 years. But I’m still lazier than not, more of a procrastinator than not, more passive than not, more reactive than proactive and neither an achiever nor a go-getter. Nor would I want to be either of the latter. The idea of being an on-the-go achiever is anathema to me.
People can mature and become much more functional in their twenties and thirties. Happens all the time, including with me. But people tend not to fundamentally reinvent themselves at that age, barring trauma or a truly unusual combination of powerful motivation + a very strong will.
To give a particularly apropos example - I got a speeding ticket months ago, the first in several years. I paid my fine on-line on the very last day to do so. I also paid a little extra to give me the option of taking driver’s ed class to expunge the ticket from my record. A few more months pass and the deadline for taking the class is looming. Despite having paid extra money, I decided to blow it off, as one point on my license shouldn’t seriously affect my insurance premium and I just couldn’t be bothered to get my shit together and burn an afternoon on a boring-ass DE class.
That’s a fairly extreme example of me being half-responsible and most often I’m better than that. And if I got another ticket anytime soon I’d take care of it tout de suite, as two points would impact my insurance. But it is illustrative of the basic personality of a functioning lazy person.
*Will *they? Who can say? *Can *they? I did. I changed around the time I fell in love in my mid-20s. I graduated college at 28.
Yes, certainly. I do think it can be difficult to change ingrained habit, though, and not everyone is going to make the change or do it gracefully.
I think it’s two different types of growing up, though. You are quite right IMO that responsibility is postponed for years, and adolescence has been stretched out to the point of absurdity, so that a 34-yo man can talk about not being ready to settle down to adult life without being universally considered a total loser.
When most people talk about kids growing up too fast, though, they don’t mean they’re getting mortgages and starting their careers too young. They mean the kids are being influenced at a young age by media meant for adults, engaging in sexual behavior, expecting to date and party at 12, and so on. It’s two very different things; I suppose really we’ve stretched adolescence at both ends, making it last 20 years instead of 6.
Hell yeah. That was me, until about the age of 25. And I was a stoner into the bargain.
What changed for me was going to Asia on a whim, then running out of money, and suddenly being forced to fend for myself, with dire consequences if I didn’t.
I’m still a slacker of sorts, but I now know what I have to do to take care of business. And thanks to my experiences, I now have a good career that I haven’t really worked towards - and am paid very well for what I do.
BTW waiting “until the last moment to get anything done” is actually a character archetype - it’s the “P” preference in the MBTI , and something I’m prone to. That’s not an excuse for being like that - it’s something that the individual needs to work against in order to conform to expectations of society - but neither is it abnormal at all; a significantly large minority of people are like this.
I was always like that, and am now a successful adult. I think the only difference is, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to see how complex the chain is, so my “force point” starts much earlier. Once, I would have waited for the boss to nag before doing a task. Now I can see, “if I don’t do X by Y time, the boss will nag,” so I get it done by that time. I’ve got a better sense of time budgeting and interdependencies, so I know when I need to do things in order to get them done all by their deadlines, even if the math works out that it’s 4 days before. But I still procrastinate, and do everything at “the last possible minute.” I just have a better sense of where that minute, realistically, needs to be.
I’m proactive only if I think it’ll save me time/produce a more desirable result. I’m all about using my non-leisure time as efficiently as humanly possible, even if that means making value judgements on the worthiness of the task itself. It’s a risk/reward evaluation. The math is better now that I’m older and can see the big picture, but there’s all sorts of stuff I should do but don’t, because it’s not worth the time.
I still have not found a way to take a long term view, and tolerate current pain for future gain. If I don’t get some sort of positive result/reward from something reasonably soon, I have trouble keeping it up. This is why I don’t exercise. Though I know it’s good for me in the long run, in the short run it’s uncomfortable, boring, and results in soreness. I’ll do it for a month or two at stretches, but always lose motivation.
So goes the mental calculations of the lazy. I’ve always imagined the non-lazy get satisfaction out of achievement for achievement’s sake, whereas I don’t.
(I will note that part of my career success has been my ability to handle things on crazy deadlines. I’m not intimidated by lack of time for proper planning, or screw-ups because of someone else’s poor planning . . . if your project is on fire, or a train-wreck, I’m your woman, because I’ve lived my whole life running franticly for deadlines and flying by the seat of my pants. So it really has not been a disadvantage)
I feel like I was a pretty lazy slacker in my early 20s, and I’m embarrassed about my lack of work ethic at the time, but if I talk about it with people who knew me then, they always say, “Oh no, you were fine. I didn’t think you were a slacker.” So I don’t know.
I started college with no career goal in mind, and I didn’t even know what I wanted to study, but I was scared of the idea of working for a living and dad was willing to pay for college. It took me six years to get a degree and by the end of it I was paying for everything, not dad.
But mostly I just worked for a few months at a time to amass a little money and then I quit, because the jobs were dead-end jobs, or so I thought. I realized later that some people parlay an entry-level fast food job into a $100,000 a year career, but I thought I was too intellectual for that.
I guess I’m saying that 18 or 21 aren’t necessarily the cutoff ages for maturity. Developing a work ethic took time. Now I’m a work horse 40 hours a week, but I do my best never to have to work overtime.
You are forgetting the time period once people do find that professional job where they continue to live in denial that they are “grown up”. Sure they are working and making money, but they look at it in almost an ironic way. They still party, live with roommates in a trendy appartment and dress like hipsters once they have had a chance to change out of their work clothes.
Movies about slacker twentysomethings who are unsure of their place in life and don’t really feel grown-up are so 90s.
The new generation of films by Apatow or star any combination of Vince Vaugn, Wil Farrell, any Owen brother, Paul Rudd, or Ben Stiller deal with people well in their 30s or 40s who won’t grow up.
Well, unlikely in fast food, but the point is valid. A lot of 20-somethings are surprised at how little they make in an entry level job. They also fail to see that the highly paid managers and partners and vice presidents didn’t just appear in their positions. They worked their way up over a 10,15, 20 year period. And that’s hard to do if you jump jobs every few months or years.
Absolutely- a slacker-ish good friend of mine turned it around recently.
I say slacker-ish, because he wasn’t a true slacker, i.e. working fast-food, or waiting tables, and he did graduate from college with an English degree. Then again, he was working for like 25k for the county, playing video games and smoking pot, when he could have been a lot more successful than that with a bare minimum of effort.
He ended up joining the Army at 34, going to OCS and getting commissioned. He’s been deployed once to Iraq, and is getting out in about 8 months, and plans to be a counselor for returned troops.
I’d say that’s a successful slacker transformation!
The description fits my ex, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll change.
Throughout high school, he was known as being very nice and very bright, but not motivated to use his intelligence for anything beyond passing tests. He wound up having to get his GED when he could have been near the top of his class. He never went to college, and worked in factories or delivering pizza. He blamed his woes on his ADD, though he never made any serious efforts to manage it. He was aware of his flaws and knew he could do better, but always put off change to “someday.” This continued through his 20s to his 30s, and he spent that decade barely scraping by, almost always suffering in some way because of his lack of motivation.
He moved across the country to be with me, and planned to use his relocation to California as a fresh start. He was going to get a job, save money, and enroll in school. Within a few years, his goal was to have a degree and a full-time job that paid well above minimum wage. But he didn’t. His old habits took a few months longer to relocate to California, but they did eventually, and by the time we broke up two years later, he was employed in retail, but still hadn’t saved any money or started school.
The breakup seems to be the kick in the ass he needed. He returned home, and then got a job, enrolled in college, and started saving money. The last I heard, he’d gotten a 4.0 his first semester and had bought himself a car.
I think he just needed to suffer a significant, irreplaceable loss because of his habits. Prior to our breakup, he hadn’t really lost anything because of his laziness. No high school diploma? Well, you can get a Good Enough Diploma instead. Parents are upset? His parents are nice and supportive, and they’ll get over it. You can adjust to not having any utilities, and borrow money if you’re short for rent. People can go to college at any age, so it was okay that he was 32 and still putting it off. Job opportunities out of reach? Oh well, there’s always retail to get you by. There were never any real consequences for his inaction.
While the fact he’s actually made things happen could mean he’s finally changed, it’s probably safer to check back in a couple years before making that diagnosis.
Not all, though. I know someone in his mid-twenties who now has two kids he can’t afford and pretty much sits on his ass expecting that someone else will bail him out.
Unfortunately, since there are now kids involved, this strategy usually works, since the rest of the family don’t want the kids to suffer for their screw-up parents. (He also has a mortgage. Guess who makes the payments more often than not?)
I hope like hell the guy outgrows this eventually. I don’t have a lot of faith that he will, though. Argh.
Yeah, kids don’t always mature you - I should know about that!
However, I, while I don’t have any kids, didn’t really mature until my late twenties and even now, in my mid-30s, feel wisdom still in the process of coming. It’s slower for some of us, is all.