Thank you, Ford.
Everyone was glad to say goodbye to 2016; the year ended in a crescendo of craziness, leaving us craving calm and optimism but perhaps with a dim view of the future.
Change is stressful, but eventually the stress subsides. What is left in its wake? New ways of living planning, doing and coping that result in a better, more rewarding quality of life. The key is to understand these things and put them to work for you rather than holding on to the outdated ideas that no longer work.
Each year, Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s futurist, surveys people for their opinions and attitudes and boils it down to the things that matter most, giving the automaker a look at global trends that will shape their customers and the marketplace. The result is a compass that can help all of us—Ford in building better mobility systems for you, and you in building and living the life you want.
From the 2017 Trends report here are the actionable, sharable ideas that you can put to work right now. You may not have control over some of the madness that the future promises, but you can steer your own ship to the achievements and outcomes that you want.
1. Trust Matters More Than Ever
This isn’t a new idea, in fact, it’s one that Sheryl and the Ford team found in their first trend report five years ago. But the importance of trust—as they were completing this report, fake news and election hacking became a thing—is bigger than ever. Trust will be an even more defining factor in shaping our opinions and beliefs, citizen fact checking will continue to rise and transparency will take on even greater economic value.
Ford calls this the Female Frontier, another trend uncovered in past reports and one that will continue to grow. For the first time ever there are more women in law school than men and globally, women continue to gain more power, influence and income. This trend extends to parenting, another trend that Ford uncovered: men are taking on more of the responsibility and both men and women are bringing new attitudes to parenting, tossing out old rules that don’t work and adapting to the world we live in.
3. The Tech Spiral
You get this one right? Too much tech is making us all a little ADD (or a lot), the pace of technology stresses us out, we are often on information overload, we get conflicting answers (there’s that trust thing again) and too many choices, which leads us to question if technology is helping us or hurting us. Of course, the answer is both, so we have to look for tech innovations that are purposeful, intuitive and integrate into the other elements of our lives.
4. The Deciders Dilemma
Here’s the upside of the tech spiral: too much information, conflicting answers, seemingly endless opportunities are creating new economies to turn commitment-phobes and remorseful buyers into happy campers. ZipCar, AirBnB and CitiBike are just the start.
5. The Good Life 2.0
Another benefit to all this tech and cultural overload? The next era of the good life. We’ve been hearing for a while that conspicuous consumption is being replaced by meaningful experiences, and that trend is in hyper speed. Without the stress of long term financial commitments and the agility of learning and choice, people are defining prosperity as more about purpose and experience than accumulating things.
6. Time Well Spent
Time is money, right? Today it’s an even bigger and more personal currency. As technology offers us more information, solutions and opportunities, the way we spend our time has changed dramatically. So have our expectations for how we and those around us spend our time. While we are completely annoyed at the eons it seems to take for a file to load (even though it might be 10 seconds), we generally consider spending an hour a day on social media to be time well spent. But if we can better economize our time, say completing the Fresh Direct shopping list and uploading baby photos to Facebook while we sit in traffic on the the 405, we’ll have more time to live the Good Life 2.0 with that baby while we enjoy a fresh kale salad.
7. Championing Change
This is one we’re all feeling as we head into 2017. So many have felt, and still feel the need, for change, but they also are feeling the power to help make it happen. Technology, social media and trust (or lack of), paired with economic power and the speed of information enable armchair activists, giving everyone the opportunity to impact social, economic and environmental issues.
8. Community Ties
Anonymity was long the sad joke of life in the big city: People often lived in the same building for years, decades even, without knowing their neighbors. But we’re realizing that we’re all in this together, and now we have more tools to connect, share and understand each other as well as the agencies, corporations and others who are a part of our world. Corporations are more active citizens, and citizens are more active community members. From community notification systems to sites like NextDoor, people are sharing, collaborating and taking a greater role in the health and wealth of their communities.
As we head into the next few months the stresses will continue—a new administration, pressure to grow economically, the weather, the continued explosion of technology. But now we’re better suited to make considered rather than reactionary decisions. Welcome to the future.