Generation WTF

From “What the %#$@?” to a Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless You

Christine B. Whelan

Templeton Press has built a website, www.generationwtf.com, that is a launching point for surveys, quizzes, advice from the author, and questions from Generation WTFer’s just like you! Come and join the discussion!

We all know what “WTF” usually stands for: it’s an exclamation of frustration and anger, and it’s an understandable reaction to the tough new economic realities that have hit young adults harder than any other group. WTF happened to promises of a bright future? What happened to the jobs? And what do we do now that the rules have changed?

Recent college grads were raised in a time of affluence and entitlement, lulled into thinking that a golden future would just happen. With few role models to teach values like thrift, perseverance, and self-control, young adults are ill-equipped to cope with sacrifice and failure, and their dismal employment prospects are merely the most visible symptom of greater challenges.

Fortunately, it’s not too late to change course. This optimistic, introspective, and technologically savvy generation already possesses many of the tools they need to thrive—if only they learn to harness the necessary skills for success.

In Generation WTF, Christine Whelan does just that. Dr. Whelan, one of the foremost authorities on the history of the self-help genre, worked with more than one hundred young people to test and tweak the very best old-school advice and personalize it for the modern twenty-something. After a decade of researching the industry—and years advising “WTFers” as they struggle to make their way in the “real world”—Dr. Whelan knows firsthand what advice works and what Generation WTF has to offer.

Rather than focusing on the frustration that “WTF” usually stands for, Dr. Whelan leads the charge to reclaim the acronym as a battle cry for a positive future: Generation WTF will be a wise, tenacious, and fearless generation, strengthened by purpose and hope. This practical new guide will show these WTFers the way to success and instill lasting habits that will serve them well in both good times and bad.

Introduction / 1

  • What Happened? And Where Did All the Jobs Go? / 3
  • The Experiment That Could Change Your Life / 5
  • How to Read This Book / 9

Part I: Get Wise

Chapter 1: Who Are You? Why Understanding Your Values Is the First Step to Success / 13

  • What Are Values? / 16
  • How to Live Your Values / 17
  • Is Your Internal GPS Leading You in the Right Direction? / 20
  • Finding Your Purpose / 21
  • Putting It All Together: Your Personal Mission Statement / 28

Chapter 2: Get Honest with Yourself: The WTF Guide to Journaling / 35

  • WTF Is Honesty? / 36
  • Top Honesty Advice: Grab a Journal / 39
  • WTF Did I Just Learn? / 51 

Part II: Get Tenacious

Chapter 3: Got Goal? The SMARTER Way to Achieve / 55

  • Why Do I Need Goals? / 55
  • The SMARTER Plan for Success / 58
  • Create Lasting Change the SMARTER Way / 59
  • The SMARTER Plan in Action / 60

Chapter 4: Self-Control: Your Key to Self-Improvement / 77

  • Is the Way You’re Working … Working? / 78
  • Want a Marshmallow? The Mischel Experiments / 80
  • What Is Self-Control? / 82
  • Seven Steps to Amp Up Control of Your Life … Starting Now / 85
  • Dieting: A Case Study in the Challenges—and Possibilities—of Self-Control / 102
  • Putting It All Together / 106

Chapter 5: Procrastination and Stress: The Dysfunctional Relationship That’s Holding You Back / 109

  • Do You Procrastinate? / 110
  • Meet Mr. Procrastination and Ms. Stress / 111
  • Why Am I So Stressed Out? / 112
  • What Is Procrastination? / 113
  • The Epic Battle of Procrastination vs. Self-Control / 118
  • Frazzled and Stressed? Be Nice to Yourself to Boost Self-Control / 122
  • Urgent vs. Important: Stephen Covey on Overcoming Procrastination / 124
  • Breaking the Procrastination and Stress Cycle / 129
  • WTF Did I Just Learn? / 131 

Part III: Get Fearless

Chapter 6: Thrift: Old Word, New Secret to Success / 135

  • Money and You / 136
  • Materialistic Much? / 137
  • First, a Little Background / 138
  • Step 1: Learn What Thrift Really Means / 140
  • Step 2: Understand Your Money Psychology / 143
  • Step 3: Generation WTF Solutions for Thrifty Living / 149
  • WTF Does My Money Go? / 157

Chapter 7: Become a Fearless You: The Five Life Skills You Need to Know / 183

  • Life Skill 1: Smile (Seriously) / 184
  • Life Skill 2: Admit It When You’re Wrong / 186
  • Life Skill 3: Avoid Arguments by Thinking Win/Win / 188
  • Life Skill 4: Interview like a Pro / 195
  • Life Skill 5: The Importance of an Honest Day’s Work / 199

Chapter 8: Make Meaning: Thinking Outside the “You” Box / 207

  • Create More Meaningful Friendships / 211
  • Create More Meaningful Relationships / 221
  • Create More Meaningful Communities / 234
  • Don’t Know How to Start Giving Back? Try This / 235
  • WTF Did I Just Learn? / 243

Conclusion: Generation WTF: 5 Things to Do Before You Put This Book Away / 245

  • So What Next? / 248 
  • Finalize Your Personal Mission Statement / 248
  • Join the Generation WTF Movement / 249
  • Remember Your Core Values / 249
  • Set a Goal—and Accomplish It—This Week / 251
  • Spread the News / 251

Acknowledgments / 255

Appendix: A WTF Advanced Calendar Strategy to Keep You on Track / 257

  • Victory: More Helpful Tips / 263

Notes / 265

Resources / 275