Changes in so­ci­ety mean peo­ple rate life progress dif­fer­ently these days, says new re­search.

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

How do you de­fine progress in your life? New re­search strongly sug­gests the way peo­ple mea­sure their for­wards move­ment has changed. A re­port by ASB Bank and re­search agency TRA, Align­ing with progress in New Zealan­ders lives, sur­veyed more than 1000 New Zealan­ders on what progress meant to them and whether they felt they were pro­gress­ing in their lives.

The results showed a to­tal of 56 per cent re­garded them­selves as ei­ther mov­ing ahead (41 per cent) or sig­nif icantly mov­ing for­ward (15 per cent), while 26 per cent per­ceived they were stand­ing still and 18 per cent go­ing back­wards. A fur­ther 42 per cent said money was an is­sue and they were only “just get­ting by day to day”.

Per­haps the most in­ter­est­ing f in­d­ings of the sur­vey come when drilling down into in­di­vid­ual and de­mo­graphic re­sponses to see how peo­ple mea­sure progress in their own lives.

While 56 per cent felt they were mov­ing for­ward, sig­nif icantly or other­wise, and 44 per cent felt they were stand­ing still or mov­ing back­wards, the way Ki­wis ex­pressed them­selves in the sur­vey demon­strated progress may not be mea­sured by the same big events – for ex­am­ple, buy­ing a house, mar­riage, child­birth – as has typ­i­cally been the case.

Ac­cord­ing to ASB gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing, Shane Evans, the re­search shows the quar­ter­acre dream is no longer a rel­e­vant bench­mark for achieve­ment in New Zealand.

“We set out to un­der­stand what progress means to New Zealan­ders and if the idea of ‘ keep­ing up with the Jone­ses’ was still a key driver of suc­cess. We found it’s ac­tu­ally the day to day events that en­able us to feel like we’re mov­ing for­ward and have a sense of mo­men­tum in our lives,” he says.

That was shown in sur­vey in­ter­views where sub­jects were asked to re­late “wins” in their daily lives as well as some­thing they had moved for­ward with over the last six months. While past eco­nomic eras might have sug­gested that big life events would dom­i­nate, the ma­jor­ity of cur­rent re­sponses showed smaller step­ping stones cre­ated the aura of progress for many.

Like Colleen, a ma­ture stu­dent with two young chil­dren, who rated her “wins” as hand­ing in a dif­fi­cult es­say and learn­ing how to make egg tarts. Her 6-month progress was around gain­ing a part-time job that en­abled her to pay her fees and rent, other ex­penses and take her chil­dren to a fun park: “It was a re­ally big thing get­ting that job,” she says, “it re­ally helps.”

Gary, a younger pro­fes­sional, rated his self-re­pair of a com­plex me­chan­i­cal is­sue with his car as a win, sav­ing him­self a potential four-f ig­ure bill. In his six-month

“In­come and equal­ity may not have changed much, ma­te­rial de­pri­va­tion may not have changed much, but hous­ing costs have.”

progress, he talked about a scar­ring break-up and mov­ing for­ward with help from friends and fam­ily, es­pe­cially f irm­ing re­la­tion­ships with the lat­ter.

John, another young pro­fes­sional, re­garded his com­mit­ment to get­ting f it and fo­cus­ing on his football ca­reer as a “win”. In the last 6 months, he had opened sav­ings ac­counts and re­ally or­gan­ised his life, not just with day-to-day ex­pen­di­ture but plan­ning for the fu­ture.

Gil­lian, a young mother, talked about cop­ing suc­cess­fully with an ad­verse team sit­u­a­tion at work as a “win”. A keen net­baller, progress over the last six months was typ­i­fied by en­cour­ag­ing her daugh­ter’s love of net­ball: “Shar­ing sport with my daugh­ter has been re­ally ex­cit­ing and some­thing I trea­sure.”

Nicky, an older mother, talked about hand­ing in an as­sign­ment on her way to qual­i­fy­ing in a new pro­fes­sion as a “win” and progress over six months was mea­sured by the fam­ily’s de­ci­sion to sell their Auck­land house and move to the South Is­land.

Small day-to-day events had more as­so­ci­a­tion with progress for many than big mile­stones – like learn­ing, get­ting tasks done, help­ing some­one eat­ing healthy and pay­ing the bills, food on the table, good sleep and fam­ily time.

Gen­er­a­tion Z and “Yo Pros” ( gen­er­ally younger peo­ple in a job and liv­ing on their own but not con­sid­ered a yup­pie) are among the 23-34s who are more likely to see a new “toy” as progress in their lives. More ma­ture peo­ple (45-54) are most likely to see avoid­ing hard times as progress with 54-plus ex­pe­ri­enc­ing less progress.

Evans said the fo­cus on smaller items of progress, along­side larger life mea­sures like buy­ing a house, was prob­a­bly a re­sult of the coun­try’s hous­ing is­sues: “In­come and equal­ity may not have changed much, ma­te­rial de­pri­va­tion may not have changed much, but hous­ing costs have.”

Al­though wage in­creases for in­di­vid­u­als might have been rea­son­able when com­pared with ris­ing house and rent prices, this was likely to give peo­ple the im­pres­sion of stand­ing still, per­haps re­sult­ing in peo­ple re-fo­cus­ing on smaller land­marks to mea­sure progress in their lives.

ASB gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing Shane Evans said it had been in­ter­est­ing to see how the def­i­ni­tion of progress had changed over the gen­er­a­tions.

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