How to Be a Trendsetter in Changing Times

Bob Dylan sounded pretty convincing when he said the times they are a changing. But few of us back then would have believed that we’d experience change at blink-speed.

When Bob Dylan was at the peak of his popularity, Trendsetters were little more than a blip on the outer extremes of the radar screen. In the blink of an eye, the blip became a bulge. This group is now championing some significant social changes.

In the pre-Trendsetter era, life progressed along a traditional and predictable linear path. People went to school, got a job, got married, had kids, retired, went on a holiday of a lifetime, and got their affairs in order awaiting the imminent arrival of the Grim Reaper. Post-retirement life expectancy was about two years. In the U.S. today, Trendsetters number more than 80 million and are increasing at a rate of one every second. This group controls about 70 per cent of the wealth and accounts for more than 50 per cent of consumer spending. Their shopping lists can include anti-aging cream, hair color, facelifts, nose jobs and other cosmetic surgery, Viagra, botox, luxury goods, and big toys such as RVs and Harleys.

If you’re a trendsetter (or about to become one), here are four essentials for you to consider and hopefully take on board.

Champion the change.

One of the gross misconceptions associated with Trendsetters is that they are set in their ways and have difficulty adapting to change. Trendsetters are change-champions whose accomplishments are hardly those of the stay-put and stodgy. Trendsetters have

* been to the moon and back many times;
* led many workplace reforms and flexible work practices;
* fuelled the plastic surgery boom;
* introduced telecommuting, which, in turn, motivated the need for better technology;
* made multi-millionaires out of fitness club owners; and
* demonstrated the need to build friendships among people of all ages.

Follow Gandhi’s advice: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Believe and Achieve.

Roger Bannister recorded the first sub-four-minute mile (in May 1955); yet, by the end of that year, seventeen others had equaled or bettered Bannister’s mark. The main barrier wasn’t four-minutes: it was belief. Not only do Trendsetters know that a positive attitude towards ageing is one of the secrets of increased longevity and life quality, but they also must believe it and act accordingly. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that ageing can be retarded through changes in self-perception.

Be Flexible.

A familiar observation associated with ageing and the speed of life has been that once you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed. Trendsetters, however, insist that the view from over the hill is spectacular. Many Trendsetters claim that they’ve been there, done that, and got a sweaty T-shirt to prove it. What they’d like to know is, ‘What else is in store for us?’

Of this we can be sure. Trendsetters are an Internet-savvy group, who

* pride themselves on their surfing-the-Net discoveries;
* have developed a voracious appetite for online learning;
* pursue paid, volunteer, or both types of opportunities for work;
* make use of the many available online facilities;
* scour the Net for travel bargains; and
* devote themselves to new hobbies and interests they discover during their online explorations.

Look forward to the next phase.

Trendsetters know that achievement doesn’t have a use-by date. And they have an impressive list of role models whose achievements help to reinforce that message. Examples include the celebrated conductor Leopold Stokowski, who signed a six-year recording contract when he was 94; Ichijirou Araya, who climbed Mount Fuji when he was 100 (he had climbed the mountain in each of the four previous years); Coco Chanel, who admitted to being 70 when she was actively involved in designing; and Sean Connery who was 59 when he was voted the sexiest man alive.

George Burns erred in his observation that people who live to be 100 had it made, because very few people died past the age of a hundred. Times certainly are changing. An increasing number of people are making it to 100. This phenomenon, however, should not be interpreted to mean that people want to live for ever. Even though Seneca observed that one is never so old that one does not honestly hope to live another day, moving on is part of life in progress. Besides, the mythical Tithonas and the Struldbrugs of Gulliver’s Travels all found that immortality was not all it was cracked up to be.