Confronting the future: it seems we don’t care where our boat takes us

While we often hear about someone writing history, we less often hear about people writing their future – perhaps because it seems that certain things never change.

This includes people’s attitudes to change.

In 2015, I presented data on attitudes to change. I was reminded of this by a reader this week who had stumbled upon my original work. I realized that I had continued to collect data with the same questions until 2021, so I decided to see if anything had changed.

The information came from an instrument that my colleagues and I had developed and placed online on my then website called the Luck Readiness Index which measured opportunity awareness.

IllustrationCredit:Jim Pavlidis

Between 2015 and 2021, a number of major unexpected events in Australia and around the world have caused huge upheavals. It seemed reasonable to expect that these events would have an impact on people’s attitudes to change.

On the central question “I would normally avoid change if I could” in 2015, 34 percent of a sample of about 600 agreed that they would do so. By 2021, the sample had doubled to about 1,200, of which 32 percent agreed that they would normally avoid change. In other words, there has been almost no change. A solid third of the sample are change avoiders.

Similarly, almost two thirds of people said that the uncertainty about the future worries them, the figures were 63 percent in 2015 and 60 percent of the sample in 2021. We might have predicted that covid-19 would have pushed up these numbers a bit, but no.

Although most of the sample reports were worried about the future and thought that their lives would be very different, less than half have a clear idea of ​​what their future will look like. In 2015, 86 percent of those surveyed agreed that their lives would look very different five years later. In 2021, the figure was 85 percent. In 2015, 47 percent agreed that they had a clear picture of what they would do in the future and how they would get there. In 2021, the figure was 44 percent.

It seems that we continue to expect our lives to change significantly within a relatively short time frame, as little as five years. Still, less than half of the sample have a clear idea of ​​how they would approach this future, with 30 percent in 2015 and 36 percent in 2021 saying they did not have a clear idea of ​​how they would approach their future.

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