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12 trends that are affecting your future
London, On.- The TV news was showing interviews with random people in the street. Two people were watching while they waited for a flight at the airport. One remarked, ‘Isn’t it amazing how much ignorance and apathy there is out there?’ Replied the other, ‘I don’t know and I don’t care.’
In today’s rapidly changing world ignorance and apathy are not effective options. Not knowing and not caring can come back to bite us. But trying to stay on top of the changes that can affect our lives, our careers and our businesses is not easy.
Fortunately, Linda Nazareth has just published a book describing the trends that are turning today into tomorrow. It is called Economorphics, encompassing the economy or that part of our lives that hits us in the very sensitive spot, our wallet. It describes how the economy is morphing or changing. Nazareth describes 12 changing trends and concludes with some ideas on how to put them to use.
The trends will probably not surprise you. Briefly, they are as follows. Read the book for more detailed analysis.
1. The world’s population is getting older with a higher proportion of elderly dependents and fewer young, productive workers.
2. More people in the world are on the move, affecting both the places they are leaving and the places they are coming to.
3. A higher proportion of people live in urban areas than ever before.
4. Economic power and growth is gradually shifting from North America and Western Europe to the developing and newly-developed parts of the world.
5. The global middle class, described as those who have some discretionary income left after providing for basic necessities, is growing.
6. On the other hand, in the developed world and especially in the United States, those at middle income levels are getting squeezed as the rich get richer and the poor don’t.
7.Commodity prices are set to rise, which is good news for those who supply commodities of all kinds and bad news for all of us who consume them.
8. For many, being at work will no longer mean being in a specific location.
9. Financial markets will be less predictable. Being aware of the above trends will help to understand them. For example, the growing global middle class will increase the world demand for capital, while having more older people who tend to spend rather than save will reduce the supply.
10. Out of necessity or desire, most baby boomers reaching the traditional retirement ages will be seeking interesting and/or lucrative activities rather than the golf course or the rocking chair.
11. If the global economy is to prosper, women will have to play a larger and more varied role.
12. Innovation, as demonstrated in increased efficiency and productivity, is the factor that will enable us to benefit from the positive factors that these trends imply and to alleviate any negative ones.
Are you thinking, ‘Tell me something I don’t know’? Being aware of these trends at an intellectual level and truly incorporating them into your decision making are two different things. Here’s an example from recent history:
Vancouver’s Expo 86 was more crowded in September than in August. In 1986, people ‘knew’ that the baby boom had ended 20 years earlier. Therefore, many families did not have children in school and thus were free to go to Expo in September. But they assumed that most other families still had kids, so Expo would be less busy in the fall. They were very wrong.
Read Economorphics for Linda Nazareth’s detailed analysis of these trends, how they will interact and how they might affect you. She then suggests doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to determine how the forthcoming shifts will affect your life, career or business. I suggest putting the emphasis on the strengths and opportunities.
One relatively new trend is toward positive psychology. This field shows that people who are optimistic and who focus on the bright side are more successful in all aspects of their lives. Business people are notoriously optimistic. Almost all business surveys see things looking up. Even when bad prospects are unavoidable, business people are likely to add that the outlook for themselves and their own operation is still okay.
We need to know and understand the trends that will shape our future. Then we can use our creativity and optimism to turn them into positive results.
Troy Media BC’s Business columnist Roslyn Kunin is a consulting economist and speaker and can be reached at www.rkunin.com.