No other generation has ever had it as good: we're more prosperous, better educated, more travelled. But, we're less content. Survey after survey tells us that we're less happy than our parents and grandparents were 50 years ago. Could it be that we're the Post-Materialists and earning more to spend more is losing its appeal? Are we looking for a level of fulfilment that money simply can't buy?
A new phenomenon known as "climbdown" would certainly suggest this. The climb-downer is less preoccupied with climbing the property and career ladder and more concerned with enjoying life. They want more time to explore life, even if that means having less money. Climb-downers would use the spare time to go back to university, learn new skills, do voluntary work or spend more time with the family. They don't need the status of a huge mortgage and a trophy home, preferring to put their money towards fulfilling ambitions, be it taking a year out for the holiday of a lifetime or turning a hobby they're passionate about into a successful business.
In a survey conducted for Britannia Building Society, the number of people saying they wanted a fulfilling life outnumbered those wanting a highly paid job by three to one. Such a finding marks a dramatic about-turn in attitudes towards success since the Eighties. Around twothirds of people under 35 who were surveyed are considering a downshift to a simpler life and one million people between 35 and 54 in the UK already have plans to make it happen.
Put simply: we're no longer prepared to put off doing what we love until we retire. No amount of money can compensate for a wasted life. We want a life of our own design, based on who we feel we really are. And we want it now.
Intriguingly, success manuals down the years have all shared one emphatic rule ? do what you love. In his brilliant book, Stop Worrying and Start Living, published in 1936, Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People) wrote: "You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing." I agree, and I would add happiness to that too ? you'll never be happy unless you like, even love, what you do.
Nowadays, on our road to happiness, we also talk about values, core beliefs, a sense of purpose and personal integrity, and grappling with these issues is a challenge unique to our generation. But searching for inner truth and answers to what constitutes a well-lived life is difficult to do alone, so our 21st-century society has come up with a new profession to assist us ? life coaching.
I've been a professional life coach for almost 20 years, but admittedly, I've probably been doing it for most of my life as my dad was a Dale Carnegie devotee, just like all good door-to-door salesmen were. Growing up in Northern Ireland during the height of the Troubles, I was raised on self-improvement and the dream of a better life, elsewhere.
So, I'm a big believer in following your dreams ? and being realistic with them at the same time. And if you're honest with yourself, all the answers and solutions you need to make those dreams happen, lie within. I'm with Albert Einstein when he said: "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."
In the hurly burly of everyday life, it's hard to hear yourself think, let alone discover your own truth. So my job over the coming months is to help you to find that truth, see the way ahead and make your life exactly as you want it. No ifs or buts, just lots of inspired thinking, creative solutions and practical tips. Is it possible to love the life you're in? Absolutely.
SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS TO firstname.lastname@example.org, NO PROBLEM IS TOO BIG OR SMALL. The first 50 e-mails will receive a Fiona Harrold Online Life Coaching Course of their choice. Please visit www.independent.co.uk/legal for terms and conditions. Fiona Harrold is author of several self-help books including The 10-minute Life Coach, Hodder Mobius, Â£6.99; www.fionaharrold.com.Reuse content