BOOK:  THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH:  Invent Your Own Path, Find Meaningful Work and Build  a Life That Matters

AUTHOR:  Adam Smiley Poswolsky

PUBLISHER:  Tarcher/Perigee (Penguin Random House imprint) [2016]

It has always confused me, the propensity of the media and other folks to pour hate on the generation of youngsters born in the two decades before the century turned.

The Millennials (born around 1980 to 2000) have been called, “the lazy generation,” “the entitled generation,” and “the me-me-me generation.”

For real, it sounds a lot like sour grapes to me.  Gee, wow!  What expectations have we older ones put on this group of youngsters that they must be made to feel like they have disappointed us so badly?

It’s been said that this generation is doomed.

Shackled by huge personal debt, shaken and pounded by the falling debris of the tectonic-plate shifts of recessions and other economic “adjustments,” and haunted by a real lack of single-job options that can actually cover their costs of living, this supposedly techno-addicted crowd of privileged, me-centered youngsters with the attention spans of gnats are going to sink into mediocrity and gloom, eking out their dismal existence in their parents’ basements…it says here.

Micah Tyler sings an a capella song. “You’ve Gotta Love Millenials,” that is bouncy, cheerful and teasing about the very real problem this generation (and the rest of us) face.


The doom-and-gloom predictions and all that bugaloo-ing “awfulness” story-telling just do not jibe with the young people I know.

As far as I can see, the young ones of my acquaintance do not match the much-bugled stereotypes.  The labels plastered all over their cohort group by the assorted haters are lies.

They are bright, these young ones.  Some of them are even brilliant.

They are eager to get their hustle on.  Some of them work 18-hour days to make ends meet as they master some discipline, trade, or profession.  Often they take on side-gigs that expand their skill-sets or they invest in their own continuing education.

Some of them have taken off on adventures that expand their view of the world, tasting life in other places, looking for a place to land or trying to clarify some vision they are pursuing.  Others delve into their roots, looking for wisdom in the ways of the ancients.

Some of my young friends band together to make some grand scheme fly, cobbling together constructs that often fall short of their aims.  Their failures do not keep them from trying again.


These young friends of mine are a rowdy and boisterous crew.

They are the freedom-runners.  They have abandoned “career ladders,” choosing instead to forge new trails through the uncertainties of a world that does not hold still, a world that seems to be falling apart….the very same falling-apart world that every generation before us all have lived in.

The Millennials I know are often unsure of where they are going, but they try to keep running on with hearts held high.  They are filled with confusion and doubt about their direction.  They are almost never sure how to answer the inevitable questions about where they think they are headed.

Many of them are looking for a direction that makes sense to them, one that has meaning for them.

Others of my young friends (as well as many older ones) who followed more conventional road maps now feel trapped by their earlier choices.  They may want to make a change, but are reluctant to chuck out the good things they have already built.  Often they have taken on obligations and responsibilities that hold their feet to the fire.

They, too, are looking for a way to move in a direction that makes sense to them towards a life with more meaning and mana.


Comes a book, THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH, written by a fellow Millennial.  The author, Adam Poslowsky (who prefers to be called “Smiley”) is a young professional who paid attention as he worked through the daunting process of re-inventing himself.

Smiley learned to ask the Big Questions that helped him find his own meaning and mana as he re-made himself from a professional administrator/facilitator at the Peace Corp headquarters in Washington, DC into a writer, public speaker and career-change couch living in San Francisco.

In the book, Smiley focuses on the process of finding work that aligns with your own life-purposes.  The goal, he says, is to “find a job or opportunity based on your purpose now,” that pays the rent and allows you to:

  • Share your gifts
  • Make a positive impact on your world
  • Surround yourself with believer
  • Live your desired quality of life

The book is packed with real-life stories of people who are succeeding in making the transition to more personally fulfilling lives and work choices.  Smiley also draws on his own experiences to point out new ways of looking for paths to reach the over-riding goal.

He does not hand out the easy, clichéd advice that says you have to quit your job and go chasing after your “passion.”

He points out that passions change.

He points out that while you are making the shift, you do still have to eat and keep a roof over your head.

What Smiley does in this book is hand you a tool box of questions and exercises and head-games as well as a dollop of resources to tap as you figure out who you are and what moves your heart now, the gifts you hold, and the impact you want to make on the world.

From there he helps you take a look at your available options and suggests ways to beta-test your ideas and your potential directions without blowing up your world.

After that, it’ll be up to you to make your moves.

Working Hands by aaron gilson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
Working Hands by aaron gilson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
This book was a crowd-funded, self-published work that made good.  It was successful enough on its own (with a lot of hustle and thought put in by Smiley and his crew) to be picked up by a more traditional publisher.  The author includes that story in the book as well.

I found THE QUARTER-LIFE BREAKTHROUGH to be an extraordinarily honest, down-to-earth and heartful book.

If you work it, I am convinced that it can guide your own Inner Smarty-pants to find the Life Answers that can work for you…even if you are NOT a Millennial and have lived way past your own quarter-life mark.

Here’s a poem…


Ya know….

I really thought it would be

DIFFERENT somehow.

I thought that as I got older

I’d develop…well, BOTTOM, I guess,

A sort of weight

That would let me float around

Without floating away…

Like…those little weight-buttons

Holding down supermarket helium-filled

Happy Face balloons.


That doesn’t seem to be happening.

Here I am, well-nigh unto being ancient

And STILL I feel like an airhead

Blowing around in a world of heavy winds.


Somehow, I thought that by now

I’d have found SOME sort of all-purpose Swiss-knife answers

That you could pull open and use to twiddle this

And twist that,

To break down all these head-scratching puzzlements

Into component parts of exceptional elegance and grace.



Instead, here I am,

Still dragging around all these kluge-solutions

Cobbled together out of various bits and dribs and drabs

That happened to be sitting around at the time.





All these kluges I’ve devised

Are actually the weight-buttons

Holding down BALLOON-ME?

Wouldn’t THAT be a kick in the head?

By Netta Kanoho

Picture credit:  (book) via



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Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.










  1. Hello there, this is some great material.
    I agree that children of this generation are more sheltered than those of the past. The beauty in life is always experienced when the screens are turned off and the artificiality is minimal. Real life and actual nature is always the answer to being happy and free.

    1. Hey Anthony:

      Thanks for your visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. Please do come again!

  2. The millennials I know are earnest if uncertain individuals who are willing to try anything to make life work. They don’t have a lot of preconceived ideas. They don’t necessarily believe the ideas of the past, but most are open to finding a new path. This seems to always be the way of youth, from one generation to the next.

    None of us can count on lifetime careers anymore and we are forced to reinvent ourselves again and again. This is the recipe for ongoing youth at any age.

    I believe the “weight buttons” that hold us down are the practical things we learn about ourselves; things we can’t even put into words sometimes, but that help us know we can take care of ourselves, that we are strong, and that we can adapt to almost anything if we just take a deep breath and feel the earth beneath our feet.

    1. Hey Jennifer: Thanks for your visit and your comments. Please do come again….

  3. So I listened to the song….
    Wow! It’s both good and funny. However, the lyrics is so true. Within this generation; people struggle more making it on their own. I think 27 year old is kind a high age. High age regarding people expect them to have money by that age. I’m around that age and still have zero. But I have faith I’ll have something

    1. Hey Linda:

      Thank you for the visit and for your comments.  It made me smile.

      Please do come again….

  4. Finally, someone said it! I myself am a post-millennial but its really nice to hear someone say how relevant our generations are and how much we have to offer. Your website could be the difference in someone’s life. I hope you keep having discussions like this one on your website and that you keep bringing really interesting books and ideas to light. Thanks, for your post I found it super inspiring. 🙂 

    1. Mary, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.

      It is a truth.  Every generation has relevance and a great deal to offer to the world.  Us old-farts get all grumpy sometimes, but mostly I think that’s mostly ’cause we think we “know better.”  Our tendency is to forget that we are living in a brave new world now.  It’s a heck of a lot different than it used to be.

      Please do come again….

  5. Madeleine says:

    I love that song! Made me laugh, thanks for that! 

    My sons would qualify as millennials (born in ’84 and ’86 respectively) I guess but neither one has been a free loader. Both had to work very very hard for their goals, all through elementary, middle, high school and later in University and college. Both are successful professionals, one as Paramedic/Firefighter and the other in Computer programming. 

    I actually see a fair amount of the OLDER generation, that seems to feel entitled to welfare, unemployment payments etc. while not working at all.  

    I know a young woman, she is about 23 now I think, that definitely fits the bill though, still living at home, spending all her hours looking for another MLM to make her ‘rich’ (and failing). She has been very spoiled, but thinks her parents are ‘hard on her’. Phew!  

    Love your poems! 

    1. See!  See!  I’m not the only one noticing the discrepancies between stereotype and real!  Thanks for the visit, Madeleine, and for sharing your story.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again!

  6. Nathan Conner says:

    This looks like a very interesting book. I was wondering if it is also available on audio yet? My wife is currently trying to find her identity again, and I think this book could help her. At least she is not shackled to any debt like many in her generation.

    I enjoyed that video you posted too lol. Watching brought to mind a few of the Millennial friends I know lol.

    1. Hey Nathan:

      Thanks for the visit.  You can get the book on audio at or, of course, at

      I hope it helps your wife.  It’s a wonderful adventure she’s embarked on.  Great job encouraging her!

      Please do come again….

  7. Hello Netta, 

    As a regular reader of your poems, it was unusual for me to find you reviewing a book about meaningful work, but this is a pressing topic for me, so your article is just at the right time for me.

    I totally agree with you that the millennial generation cannot and should not be stereotyped.

    I’m a bit older than the standard definition of Millennials, but by less than 10 years, but I associate myself much more with that younger generation than with my Generation X label.

    Thanks for summarizing the book, I feel that’s quite what I am following as a strategy for finding work.

    I loved your poem, that captures well the endeavour of this tough quest, yes, that one that is finding meaningful work. 

    Cheers, Phil

    1. Thanks for the visit and for telling your story, Phil.  I’m glad the timing was good for you and hope that you’ll take a look at the book as well.  The guy has a lot of really good stuff packed in there.

      Please do come again.

  8. Wonderful poem. While I am glad to be living today in the modern world, there are some things in the past that I wish I could have experienced. 

    It’s quite sad that kids today take things for granted, but I also don’t think this generation is doomed. I will definitely visit your site again. 

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

    1. Champ, thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

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