"Good morning, yesterday, You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find, The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember..."
- Times of Your Life -Paul Anka (Written by Bill Lane / Roger Nichols)
Time, those minutes, hours, months, and years, seem to be flying by faster these days. Being a fan of history and technology, have often wondered whether this fast pace is the result of the epoch we are living in. How has technology impacted our lives through history and what changes are ahead for the next generation?
What core set of ideas must we embrace to experience propitious times of our lives?
Let's briefly look back at the first decade following the year 1900, as this new century began in the United States:
- Life expectancy was 47.3 years for women and 46.3 years for men. The average worker made $12.98/week for working 59 hours. 8,000 cars were on the road and only 10 miles of those roads were paved.
- The industrial age was in full swing with mass production lowering prices. Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were read more than any book other than the Bible. Teddy Bears became a fad from a cartoon of a bear with Teddy Roosevelt.
- Radio broadcasts and transportation, especially automobiles, ships, and trains changed the way people viewed the world. The Wright Brothers made their first flight in the Carolinas. Henry Ford delivered the first affordable automobile through mass production ($700-$900 per car).
The art of the futurist was alive at the turn of this century. Around 1899 / 1900, the German chocolate company Hildebrands (popular chocolate at that time) published a series of postcards predicting "Life in the Year 2000." The predictions included Personal Buoyancy Balloons, Personal Moving Pavement, House Moving by Train, Televised Outside Broadcasting, Personal Flying Machines, The Weather Control Machine, The Combined Ship & Railway Locomotive, Undersea Tourist Boats, Roofed Cities, Personal Airships, Summer Holidays at the North Pole, and a Police X-Ray Surveillance Machine.
Fast forward 50 years to the decade of the 1950s:
- Life expectancy increased to 71.1 for women and 65.6 for men. Almost seven million cars were sold and the average salary was $2,992.
- In the 1950s the hydrogen bomb was created and transcontinental television began. Eisenhower drove legislation to start the interstate highway system. The first USA satellite successfully orbited the earth. The first domestic jet airline flight took place between New York City and Miami.
Fast forward another 60 years or so to today. While life expectancy continues to increase in the United States, a study published in early 2013, indicated that it now lags numerous other developed countries around the world. "Males live around four years less than their Swiss counterparts, and females 5.5 years behind the Japanese. And the gap is widening."
Technology continues to aggressively move forward. The typewriter died in our generation. The PC has gone through multiple generations (along with operating systems). Remember those 8 track tapes, regular audio cassettes, the tape recorder, LP albums, dial up modems, "You've Got Mail" from AOL, floppy disks, the scientific calculator, and even that very first large heavy cell phone.
Air travel is now global and airplanes can stay up in the air for up to 20 hours (direct flight from Singapore to New York). Lots more cars are on the road and Google is experimenting with a driver less version. The top 10 technologies that emerged between 2000 and 2010 which are now common in every life include the iPhone, Google, Windows XP, Social Networking Sites, USB flash drives, GPS, TiVo, iPod, Nintendo Wii, and Wi-Fi.
While the pace of technology continues to accelerate, the quality of life in the United States may be declining. The current global economic climate will make it more challenging for the next generation (our children) to enjoy an ever increasing standard of living.
Because of all these potential headwinds --the pace of technology change, lower quality of life, and the longer term economic challenges -- you have two simple choices:
- Give up and accept a lower standard of living.
- Embrace change by focusing on identifying strategies that improve the quality of your life and increase your standard of living.
Here are three simple powerful sets of ideas to embrace choice Number 2 and thrive to propitiously live the times of your life:
- Never stop learning - Often driven by technology changes, multiple business models have gone obsolete. Your formal education prior to starting your career is no longer enough. To stay relevant and thrive, every individual needs to constantly improve their professional skills. Job security in that one position that lasts a lifetime is dead. Embrace technology changes as your friend in identifying new ideas to bring both to your personal and professional life.
- Have a Plan A, B, and C - The most important strategy to avoid being swept aside by change is to plan your own future. Think of your career in three horizons. Plan A is your current job where you should adopt strategies that diversify your skill set and constantly increase the value of your work to your current employer. Plan B is the backup plan with a two to three year horizon that you should always have in play, if for some reason Plan A runs into challenges. Plan C consists of activities that build the long term value of your brand and set you up for more alternatives to future financial independence. The highly interconnected future is all about branding, especially at the personal level.
- Live life with passion - If you are living your life with passion, time will indeed move faster. The quality of your life will improve as you focus on both making sure you stay healthy, and also on strategies to achieve your dreams. Options are all around you to experiment with new ideas to constantly fine tune new opportunities into great new business ventures. Always remember that your life has an expiration date. Make every minute count.
"Here comes the saddest part, The seasons are passing one by one, So gather moments while you may, Collect the dreams you dream today, Remember, will you remember, The times of your life."