January 2006 - Forecast for the Year
Themes and Trends for 2006
2006 looks like a year of cynicism, tempered by realism achieved by studying issues thoroughly in the United States at least. We have seen scandal after scandal without a serious change in the way some business leaders and politicians approach their responsibilities. People are tired of that. We expect to see average people being more vocal about their opinions and to want to delve deeper into the facts of situations.
We've also seen major disasters in this country (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma), watched in horror as Southeast Asia struggled with the after-affects of the tsunami and seen many countries try to contain bird flu. We realize that our leaders are not really prepared to cope with major disasters. So, on a local level, we must find ways to help ourselves.
In 2005, our forecast talked about moving ahead, realistic/pragmatic perceptions, accepting what is and paying more attention to individual values and beliefs.
In 2006, we will expect cynicism and pickiness will become more prominent as people compare their own ideas, values and beliefs to what they see happening in their outer world and decide they are not happy with what they see. This will force some to take a more thoughtful look at what is truly important for them (continuing from 2005's focus), which provides an opportunity to re-evaluate our choices, clear out old ideas, make room for changes and discover new ways of doing things. We expect to see some new creative ideas coming forth from this re-evaluation and cleaning out process.
One way cynicism shows up is in our news media. A recent example of media cynicism was our local paper's question to local readers: "The holidays are a time of religious celebration, renewal and hope. And yet, during the past year, the world has witnessed the devastation of a major U.S. city, death and destruction on an enormous scale in Southeast Asia and Pakistan, and a war in Iraq with no end in sight. So what’s to celebrate? How can you be hopeful in a world filled with despair? How can you even believe that God is alive in such a world?" While the question might be cynical, most reader's responses were quite inspirational and filled with hope.
We expect this year's aspects to perpetuate the continued polarization that we have seen in recent years. We will see more of "us vs. them" talk and blaming of others. Eventually, we will come to realize that "we" are the problem and only "we" can solve it. We expect that will take a few years to achieve.
As we focused last year on what is true for us, we examined and reaffirmed what we believe is important. This year, we will see many people noticing that the outer world does not match what they believe is right. This year, people will be more willing to speak up about their unhappiness with what is happening and be more willing to step forward to do something about it. They will do this from a realistic assessment that things cannot be fixed overnight or by magic. They will realize that will take hard work and diligence to improve our world.
Recent news events show how this might show up. Recent revelations that the US government has engaged in secret monitoring of citizens without due process raises serious questions for many people who believe in our "inalienable rights" as defined in our Declaration of Independence. They will speak up that this type of secret monitoring is wrong. Others will just as adamantly believe that our government has the right to do whatever is needed to protect us from "terrorism." You can easily see how polarization occurs between these two opposing values and beliefs.
This re-examination of personal values as compared to what we see in the outer world also leads to more interest in ethics and how well justice is served (or not served). It means looking at how we do business, how well our government uses our tax dollars, how we treat other people, how we treat ourselves, how countries interact with each other, how we treat children, animals and the environment. We expect to see more citizens speaking out about things they believe are unethical or unjust.
This might be exhibited in citizens interacting with a government office and demanding their rights in a way they might not have done in past years. It might show up as people purchase products and services, demanding higher quality and attention to details that they might not have in past years.
For those in government, and those who sell products and services, expect to see more people who will challenge you about what you do and how well you do it. The positive side of this is that it will push us toward higher quality and to listen more to our customers, something that many government agencies and business people have been lax about in recent years. People who do not feel they are being treated fairly or appropriately will take their money elsewhere or demand that changes be made. And, they will be more willing to let others know about it.
This phenomenon has grown in recent years with the growth of the Internet and the ability for almost anyone to have a forum to express themselves, whether via their individual websites, "blogs" or group discussion boards. As people become more frustrated and dissatisfied with how their outer world compares to their inner values, we expect to see much more expression in general of people's feelings and beliefs. This, in turn, could contribute to more discord and challenging times, possibly even elevation to battles or violence as people demand to be heard.
We expect that some businesses and governments will be greatly challenged this year as more corruption is discovered and revealed. This is long overdue and will eventually lead to better business practices, better government, more attention to higher quality and stronger ethical behavior.
We already mentioned challenges to people who interact with customers. These include all organizations that provide products or services, both public and private. Shoppers, customers and clients will be more conscious of what they are buying, how the cost compares to the value they expect and more vocal about their unhappiness when a product/service does not live up to their expectations.
To counteract some of this criticism and pickiness, we expect to continue to see growth in industries that offer adventure, travel and new experiences. These offer relief from the day-to-day harshness and disillusionment with our outer society, and allow people to "get away from it all" for a healthy respite.
Technology in many forms continues to explode, fueled by the Internet and rapid methods of delivering information and products to customers. Spam, viruses and adware will continue to plague us, unfortunately. We expect to see even more focused attention to this issue and a realization that it needs to be somehow brought under control.
We expect that the health care and the medical field will continue to struggle with quality and cost issues. We also expect to see breakthroughs in many areas. As patients are more interested in their own health care and more vocal about they expect, this will challenge the health care industries to take a hard look at what they are doing and how to do a better job of providing care and services. We expect to see more revelations of drugs that are harmful and have been put into the marketplace without full disclosure of their risks and dangers.
As the population ages and "baby-boomers" near retirement age, we expect to see some real attention start to be paid to how this will affect our entire society and way of life.
As people question their outer world, we expect to see much stronger interest in spirituality and alternate forms of spiritual practice that resonate with individuals. We expect organized religions to be questioned and encounter many of the issues described for businesses and governments expressed as displeasure by their members. This questioning process often leads people to identify their own values, discard what is not right for them, deepen their beliefs or alter their beliefs based on new information. People won't tithe simply because their church demands it; they will tithe because it truly feels right for them. Or, they might choose to find other ways to express their support of the people and places that provide spiritual nourishment.
Overall, we expect 2006 to be a year of many challenges that will lead to better quality eventually, a step in a long series of changes in the basic foundation of our society that will make it stronger. In the short term, people will say "What is the world coming to?" or "What ever happened to our basic foundation?" Over the longer term, we will rebuild our society in a way that is even stronger than it is today.
We wish you satisfaction, comfort, adventure, good health, good friends and good times in 2006.
This forecast represents our views and opinions. Please, don't just take our word (or anyone else's) for what will or will not happen. Use whatever methods work for you in planning for the future. Wise people will use all the forecasts they can find, then see what feels right for them rather than letting any one dictate their activities.
No guarantees about the future are implied or given - use our views as you would anyone's opinions.
Last year's forecast: January, 2005
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