One of the most interesting projects I worked on when I started with my current emplyer in 2000 was an internal project to help bring to life the “school leaver”. It was in December so we did a series of one on ones in Sydney and Melbourne with 16 to 18 year olds who had just left school. One of our objectives was to understand, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where they all sat on the “pyramid”, and what sort of qualities they demonstrated that placed them there.
We researched some of the techniques that Maslow used to determine this, and we came across his “Philosophy of the future” – simply ask people what their ideal life would be about in five years. Where they want to be will tell you where they are today. We had a range of responses to this question across our 20 school leavers – all very illuminating. The most heartbreaking was a young girl who was virtually homeless. Her ideal future was to have somewhere permanent to live with her young daughter, and maybe have a friendship with her mother again. The most inspiring was a 17 year old guy who “wanted to be making a difference.” The dismaying was “I wanna be partying!”.
I began thinking of this again reading Seth Godin’s new Book Tribes in the train this morning. He says…
“Consumers have decided…to spend time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter, and they things they believe in.” (page 10)
And I thought, that was me three months ago, but not now. I’m not sure I want to spend any money (and even time) on some of that at the moment. It feels too frivolous, things seem to unsettled, too uncertain. And I feel like I have been wavering on my own philosophy of the future over that period as well. So before I would have said my ideal life would be about travel, kids, being happy and content, working on interesting stuff that matters, exploring and learning; now I have noticed I am falling into an internal dialogue of “Shit, I hope I have a [insert latest insecurity] job/roof over my head / food in the fridge etc next year.”
So I wonder if you can humour me and tell me what’s going on for you right now? Has your “philosophy” changed over the past few months? Is it like mine and changes a few times every day? Or are you unwaveringly (and envioulsy) positive about what’s instore for you?