Millennials Anxious Now, Optimistic about Future

December 12, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Boomers & Older | Youth & Gen X

Members of the Millennial generation are more likely than their older counterparts to say they feel “excited” about the future, but they are also more apt to feel “nervous” and “stressed” right now, according to a survey conducted by StrategyOne on behalf of Pepsi.

The research, which is part of the ongoing “Pepsi Optimism Project” (POP) that explores the mindset of Millennials, found that the Millennial generation as a whole is on par with the general population and very upbeat about the future. When asked to select words to describe how they feel, eight in 10 (81%) selected “hopeful” and two-thirds (65%) chose “optimistic.”

But Millennials (57%) are also much more likely than Gen Xers (49%), Baby Boomers (38%), and Post-War Americans (27%) to report feeling “excited” about the future.


On the other hand, the study also found that even though nearly all Millennials (95%) say it’s important to maintain a positive outlook on life and none reported a long-term negative outlook, more than half (56%) of Millennials feel anxious about their lives right now, compared with 43% of Generation Xers, 51% of Baby Boomers and 36% of Post-War Americans .


Time Spent Enoying Life

Though Millennials overall spend more time enjoying life than worrying about the future (71%), they do so slightly less than the general population (78%), the study found.

Despite this finding, two-thirds of Millennials (68%) say that they are most optimistic about their long-term future (compared with 65% of Americans).


Family and Health Drive Optimism

Although many Millennials report feeling concerned about the future (72%), virtually all of them (97%) are optimistic about some personal aspect of their lives. These levels are in line with the 79% of Americans who are concerned about the future and 98% who are optimistic about their personal lives.


Millennials are most optimistic about their overall well-being (84%) and their relationships with family and friends (81%), and are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to be optimistic about their careers (77%, vs. 66% of Gen Xers, 59% of Baby Boomers and 22% of Post-War Americans).

Other aspects of life that inspire Millennial optimism:

  • More three-quarters of Millennials are optimistic about their health (78%).
  • 77% are optimistic about their career.
  • 64% are optimistic about their finances.
  • 61% are optimistic about their romantic relationships/finding the right partner.

Activities that Engender Optimism

Millennials also report engaging in a number of activities that make them feel more optimistic, with the top ranked activities being taking care of their family (83%) and taking care of their health (82%).

Three-fourths of Millennials report that engaging in physical activity such as exercising or playing sports (76%) and supporting causes they care about (74%) tend to make them feel more optimistic, reported StrategyOne.

Other frequently reported activities for increasing optimism:

  • Being more social (71%)
  • Managing finances (63%)
  • Receiving recognition for doing a good job at work (58%)
  • Shopping (38%)

In terms of generational differences, Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to report that being more social (Millennials, 71%; Gen Xers, 59%; Baby Boomers, 68%; Post-War Americans, 61%) and shopping (Millennials, 38%; Gen Xers 28%; Baby Boomers 30%; Post War Americans 32%) tend to make them feel more optimistic.

Millennials See “Change” In Positive Light

When Millennials are asked how to describe their views of the word “change,”? nearly all of them (95%) make positive associations:

  • They most often associate “change” with the concepts of “new” (79%), “progress” (78%), “hope” (77%) and “excitement” (72%).
  • They are less apt to make negative associations with the word change. “Uncertainty” (59%), “concern” (52%), “stress” (40%) and “loss” (26%) ranked at the bottom of the list of words that come to mind.
  • Two-thirds of Millennials (67%) say that the election of Barack Obama as president is making them feel optimistic about the future of the country.


About the survey: Pepsi-Cola North America Beverages commissioned StrategyOne to conduct an omnibus survey among 2,008 Americans 18+ regarding their views on optimism. The interviews were conducted via telephone from November 13 – 17, 2008 using the field services of Opinion Research Corporation (ORC).


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