From Rat Race to Snail’s Pace
15th March 2019
Weren’t we supposed to have more leisure time this century?
I remember sitting with my parents in front of the box watching the presenters of Tomorrow’s World evangelising a new high-tech future. My parents couldn’t quite grasp the new futuristic concepts, but they weren’t meant to – this was meant for my generation. New technology promised us more leisure time and pledged that we wouldn’t have to work as hard as our long-suffering parents.
Sir Clive Sinclair’s C5 may have come and gone (quicker than its top speed) but other predictions of labour and time-saving innovations are here today – part of daily routines, and memories of life without them left behind in a world of rollerblades and pressure cookers. So where did it all go wrong and where did all our promised extra time go?
In a world characterised by globalisation and increased competition, companies want their pound of flesh. We nod our heads and run faster on the treadmill, working longer hours and seeing less of our families and friends. The need for commerce to increase sales and lower costs is matched by our hunger to have the latest gadget, the biggest house or the new flash car. Ironically, we have less time to enjoy these possessions we’ve worked so hard to acquire.
However, amidst this hectic new world, alternatives have slowly been developing. These alternatives are driven by a trend that contradicts the speed we are living our lives; the trend of taking time out for simple pleasures.
We can all cite examples of people who have taken control of their work/life balance – people who are seeking more from life than work can deliver or the moment’s rush a new purchase can provide. This has not been a sudden shift in society’s thinking – it has been building for some time. From the current trend for detoxing our bodies and minds, to the dream of having the courage to spend “A Year in Provence”, we are starting to demand experiences from life that allow us to savour small pleasures.
And we can see this trend in the way brands are responding to this preoccupation with the enjoyment of the simple things. M&S’s new brand positioning is all about making the most of every day – because life’s too short to put up with second-rate quality. The ‘Hold my Hand’ campaign by Jet2holidays focuses on the fun, carefree feeling holidays provide us with rather than fancy hotels or exotic destinations. The list goes on.
The reality is, for most of us, jumping completely off the treadmill is unrealistic. Mortgages need to be paid and our fascination with the new needs to be fuelled. However, the concept of slowing down and savouring small moments is resonating with common culture and little by little, step by step, we are inviting slow, refreshing pleasure into our otherwise hectic lives.