The Rise of Living Life to Its Fullest

 - Mar 3, 2010
References: trendhunter
Last year, worked with American Express and Angus Reid to quantify a trend we call Potentialism.

Essentially, Potentialism refers to the act of branching off the traditional path of life to pursue a passion and realize your full potential. This can mean prioritizing travel, hobbies and personal fulfillment above career success.

This was obviously very interesting to American Express, since they are big into travel, rewards and things like Front Of The Line tickets, so they wanted us to follow up and further explored HOW people are realizing their potential.

Among the findings: 38% of Canadians have a 'list' of things they want to accomplish in order to realize their full potential.

I found this concept to be particularly intriguing because I'm a potentialist! A couple years ago, I left my comfortable director-level salary at Capital One to pursue building Trend Hunter, which to me, is like working on a hobby.

But I'm not alone.

Who Are Potentialists and Why?
In October, our research indicated that about a quarter of Canadians fit this profile, a number that has since risen to 31%. Why the growth? Our research supported two major factors: Demographics and - of course - the economy. In terms of demographics, it's logical to assume that as boomers approach retirement, they start to think about their career and getting the most out of what it is that they do. This leads them to prioritize travel, family and pursuing new hobbies.

There's also a little something going on with the younger generations; the children of the boomers. As the children of the wealthiest demographics, young urban professionals today grew up with a 'safety net'... That means they don't HAVE to pursue the career that immediately ensures success. They can pursue lives that lead to personal fulfillment.

The second major factor is the economy. Times of turmoil and chaos caused people to think about what was so important to them. Even if you yourself did not lose your job, newspaper headlines had you thinking, "What if??"

Lists of Things to Accomplish
Today, we are releasing follow up research which shows an increase in the proportion of people that fit this segment. Also, we dove a bit deeper to better identify the ways that people were realizing their potential. Some findings:

- LISTS, LISTS, LISTS - 38% of Canadians have a list of things they would like to do to realize their potential, which included: travel (77%), charitable work (41%), learning a new language (32%) and writing a novel (29%).

- INTENSIFIED EXPERIENCE - Diving deeper into the segment, it seems that this rising group of people is interested not just in simply doing things, but really experiencing them. For example, although 77% have specific places they want to travel, 31% of Canadians want to experience living in another country.

- HEIGHTENED AMBITION - Not only do Potentialists have their lists (unintentional play on words), but that vast majority of them believe they will accomplish some or all of what is on their list (94%)... This level of positivity is resounding.

- GLOBAL GAMING - I'm a pretty big junkie of the Olympic games which just passed, so it was of no surprise to me that 23% of Canadians want to experience an international sporting event.

I'll be talking about more of these takeaways in upcoming media interviews, but hopefully everyone at Trend Hunter enjoys these findings!

Personal Takeaways
Of all the pro trends and in-depth consulting that we've worked on, I have a sweet spot for Potentialism. First of all, the concept is a relatively 'feel-good' story as it suggests a future with more people realizing their potential and pursuing their dreams. Secondly, it's one of the best takeaways from our current period of economic chaos. That lends itself nicely to the work I did writing EXPLOITING CHAOS, a book that demonstrates how to spark innovation during times of change.

It's been an enjoyable experience to be a part of this research, and to have the opportunity to quantify a shift in cultural mindset... So thank you American Express!