Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
from “The Times They Are A Changin'” by Bob Dylan
Even back in 1964, Bob Dylan understood that change is inevitable. The sooner you adapt, the better off you'll be. I'll even go one further than ole Bob. The times aren't just changing — we are changing the times. Our behaviors and reactions are constantly evolving. Ripples of creativity, anger, innovation, dissatisfaction, greed, and optimism wash over humanity every day. Sometimes these ripples make waves. Sometimes they create tsunamis — like wars and economic recessions.
One consistent attribute of the human spirit is resilience. We have an amazing ability to recover and adjust to misfortune, challenges and change. We are able to learn new ways of coping and responding to the ever-shifting events around us. As our societal responses emerge and take shape, we begin to see trends forming that give us a glimpse into the crystal ball of our future lifestyles.
There are hundreds of emerging trends on the horizon. Many of them are not real pick-me-ups to say the least. But I've researched some value trends that will have a positive impact on your life. Strangely enough, many of these positive trends have emerged from our economic meltdown. But isn't that they way it is with life? When it gives you lemons . . .
So here are ten trends that could be life-changing for you and your family:
Showing restraint in spending and acquiring has become the new normal. The economic meltdown has melted our ability and enjoyment of free-for-all spending. We are now saving more, and even the most affluent see the value in cutting back and living more simply. Doesn't that take the burden off keeping up with the Joneses? Thank goodness.
This goes hand-in-hand with restraint and is a counter-trend to mass consumption. Consumers have been talking about simplifying their lives for several years now as reflected in the magazine titles and food labels we see. For many, the result of simplified living is a better life overall because we are producing less waste, eating simpler and healthier foods and having more time for ourselves and our families. A less complicated, cluttered life brings more peace of mind.
3. Global Influences
As globalization burgeons, people around the world are exposed to tastes, flavors, products and ideas from everywhere. We can communicate with just about anyone, anywhere, at any time. This ability is opening our minds to new experiences, and we want more. Increasingly we are becoming eager to try things irrespective of where they originate.
As materialism declines, experiences are what people are seeking. And not just the same old experiences. We want adventure. We are looking for more creative ways to enjoy the world, and the travel industry has seen a huge up tick in active, experiential, and personal growth oriented travel. Trips that involve outdoor activities like rafting, hiking, kayaking, or biking, as well as educational travel is on the rise. We want memorable, beneficial adventures that we can share with friends and family. With so many travel options available at reasonable rates, now is a great time to plan the adventure of a lifetime.
With less expendable cash lying around, we want to spend our money on real products and craftsmanship. We want authentic experiences that don't flash with bling and over-marketing. Spin has spun itself out. Useful, well-made, practical, and meaningful are words that define what we purchase and why it's appealing. This move toward authenticity is a reflection of our shifting personal values. As we scale back to basics, we see the value od our outer world reflecting our inner core essentials.
6. Changing Gender Roles
Women will play an increasingly more important role in redefining traditional ideas at work. In 2009, for the first time ever, women represent 50% of all jobs in the U.S. Women represent 57% of all bachelor's degrees and 60% of all master's degrees, making them the most valuable part of a company's talent pool. The result will be more customized careers, flexible work arrangements, and the encouragement of more female-oriented management traits like empathy and compassion. It is also becoming less rare to see the woman as the main income earner and the man handling childcare and domestic duties. The pressure for maintaining traditional gender roles is definitely loosening up.
7. Mass Mingling
For the last several years, you've probably been hearing that the movement toward virtual communication and social media is going to create a generation of isolated robots who are wary of interpersonal relationships. Well, it appears that just ain't so, Joe. In fact, the opposite seems to be happening. Our online connections are encouraging real-world meet-ups. In some instances, that might not be great. But for networking, social gatherings, education, and business meetings, the virtual world is just another vehicle to finding like-minded people.
8. Happiness Measurement
Happiness is becoming a measure of economic prosperity. Factors such as quality of life and vacation time will be included in the overall measure of economic well-being. Including the happiness equation as part of the world of economics is certainly a huge paradigm shift taking us away from purely rational considerations. Behavioral economists are scrabbling to quantify “happiness”, and we are seeing more books on the shelves about how to find it. I think if we look at the other trends I've list, it's easy to see that happiness probably includes a good dose of simplicity, adventure and authenticity!
Increased experimentation with our own identities is spilling over into our cultural landscape. With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we can brand ourselves and launch businesses around our personal passions. In fact, everyday people are becoming national celebrities because they are media savvy and have something to offer. The absence, for the most part, of censure and ridicule, allows us to be creative in how we express and present ourselves to the world.
We've known for years how to stay healthy and fit. The expectation of living a longer life isn't enough anymore. Now we want to stay young and look young. Cosmetic surgery has become popular, accepted and easily available. You can order off a menu of cosmetic treatments that smooth your skin, zap your veins, and suck your fat. Looking young isn't just for the fabulously wealthy anymore. I must admit, though, that I'm looking forward to the trend of loving wrinkles and revering the old and wise. Perhaps the trend toward authenticity will support that!
Sources: GfK Custom Research North America; Trendspotting Market Research