Fast Company

Dream Time

I ran across some amazing numbers in a survey by the Center for a New American Dream of attitudes to consumption in the United States. More than eight out of ten Americans believe that "society's priorities are out of whack"; 93 percent agree that Americans are "too focused on working and making money and not enough on family and community". More than 8 in 10 say they would be "more satisfied with life if they just had less stress". 40 percent have made conscious decisions to buy less since 9/11. 83 percent agree that the way we live consumes too many resources. 81 percent agree that protecting the environment will require most of us to make major changes in the way we live. And so on. If people at the epicentre of the world economy are in this state of mind, it confirms the core proposition of My book that profound change is not a future necessity - it's already happening.

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5 Comments

  • Jack Cheng

    What I'd like to see is how these numbers compare to similar studies done in the past. I bet people have felt like this for some time now - it doesn't seem really new or shocking, and part of it has to come from the fundamental attribution error - that we underestimate the effect of situational factors (and overestimate the effect of dispositional ones) in others. And like Eric said, saying everyone else needs to change is ALWAYS easier than doing it yourself.

  • Jason Womack

    I think I get it, but there's more to it than numbers and words. Take this one for example:

    WORK
    88% of respondents say that working too many hours results in not having enough time to spend with family. 70% say it prevents them from doing things they want to do.

    When people DO spend time with their families, is that relaxing? Enjoyable? Tolerable? I know of people - I've worked with them - who have told me in confidence they'd "rather" be at work, where they have some sense of control and an idea of how to do things, than at home.

    And, the second one, do people have any idea what they really want to do? In seminars, I ask people to create the beginning of a "someday/maybe" list (things they'd like to do sometime, but haven't or are not starting yet). Would you believe most people won't write but one or two things down?

    Why is that? Maybe it's easier to fill out surveys and complain (or, complain about filling out surveys) than to actually go out and create something better...

  • Kelleen

    It is my belief that people will do what they are rewarded for doing. How do we change our reward systems to focus on those behavior espoused above?

    Another thought. This reminds me of the poem "Joe Heller" by K. Vonnegut (in the New Yorker) referred to last week.

  • Eric Prescott

    What's frustrating is that so many people acknowledge they need to change, but they don't. Part of it is inertia, part of it is working too much to investigate ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. What are the solutions that will make it practical for willing, everyday people to make these changes? That's what the conversation should be.

  • jim wilde

    Hi,

    "... that profound change is not a future necessity - it�s already happening." You're 100% right. Many of the CNAD survey on attitudes have reached a tipping point. We provide organizations with an enterprise blogging system ">http://www.advancinginsights.c..."> Ideascape - that makes it possible for thses attitudes to bubble up to the surface where something can be done about them.