Moving from Economy to Lifeonomy

Moving from Economy to Lifeonomy

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I recently gave a talk to 100 people and asked them about to think about whether or not they would have any deathbed regrets.

I also shared some recent research on the 5 most common deathbed regrets. They were as follows:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Only 3 out of the 100 people in the audience could say that their current decision making would result in a life without regret. Only 3 out of 100 people!

If only 3% of people in a room could say that, what does that mean for society as a whole? If we asked the whole population the same question, would the numbers correlate? My belief is that they would.

This result shows, at its heart, the essential problem with the Western model of society. We are building our whole society out of alignment with what we really care about. Deep down, most people must sense this, but for some strange reason we are all agreeing to do things that none of us really wants to do. We are suffering from the ultimate societal groupthink.

This is fascinating to me and it challenges me. Could it be that the majority of us are not happy with the way we live, yet we all propagate our lives this way because we think that everyone else wants it? If this is the case, then it has to be possible to undo. It has to be possible for society to really connect with what matters, and for us to rebuild and reimagine the way we all live.

This is why I believe so passionately that there is an opportunity for small nations to change the world. And also why I believe so passionately in our project to inspire the small nation of Guernsey to be the first country in the world to reimagine the very building blocks of Western society. And for that one small nation to provide all the other nations on earth with a path to something so much more human than we currently have.

Guernsey is an interesting country to start with, because many people would ask, ‘What on earth is wrong with Guernsey?’ We have a very wealthy economy with an extraordinarily low unemployment rate. People are well paid and don’t necessarily have to work that hard for their money. Guernsey is a Low Tax Jurisdiction (what some may unjustifiably call a Tax Haven). In other words, our main industry is Finance. And that industry is at the foundation of one of the most successful small economies on earth.

This all sounds great, until you scratch beneath the surface. You see, the thing is, I actually don’t know many people who are happy in their employment in Guernsey. I don’t know many people who would do the job they were doing if they didn’t need the money. Guernsey does not have an unemployment problem. It has a fulfilment in employment problem. And to me, this is a really serious issue.

We are seeing an explosion of consumption (or ‘numbing’) happening in Guernsey – and the West in general – and we also have a mental health epidemic that continues to grow and grow. These are consistent signs that we are, deep down, unhappy with the reality of life. Our higher level needs are just not being met.

Beyond a certain point, money is not a prime motivator. The true motivators for human beings are mastery, freedom and purpose. If you want to know more about this watch Dan Pink’s TED talk on The Puzzle of Motivation.

Most people’s work provides very little mastery, freedom and purpose. They are in very short supply in most modern economies, too. We are all working more and more to pay for things that we just don’t need – and the price we pay is the life without regret – the life that we are all capable of achieving, but usually don’t.

That is why the project we are undertaking stands to be one of the most important in the world. Can a seemingly ‘successful’ society leave behind its economy (with its lack of humanity) and build a new type of ‘lifeonomy’ – a fulfilled way of living in a community that matters to everyone? Can we build a society where everyone is happy and fulfilled? What would that society look like? What role does government and community play in that type of society?

These are all great questions and time will tell the answers. In the meantime, we get on with the job of doing our bit to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020.

As ever, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions -and I invite you to get involved.


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  1. mamokhethi says

    Hi Marc, this is really interesting because we spent most of the time doing other people’s expectations than our own unique self. We forget that we are individuals. This is why we will regret about our experiences as shaped by culture, society and friends.

  2. srinath vankadari says

    I must say that your article is very thought provoking and also life transforming. Thanks. I am honored to be connected with you.

    Can you tell me more about your Country?

  3. “We are suffering from the ultimate societal groupthink.”
    Yup, I agree with that.

    The problem you’re describing is not just a Westerners problem, it’s a worldwide problem. Individualism and the ability to think for ourself are losing its foothold in our world and it’s a sad thing to see.

    Sometimes, the problem is not with their inability to choose what’ good for themselves. They probably can’t see an alternative lifestyle because 1)It’s not presented to them and 2)It’s hard to move away from society’s norm and live a good life. Frankly, our job who is aware of this problem is to try to guide them and hope that they can see for it themselves.

  4. Marc,
    I’ve been mounting an a battle against this very issue in my community (small-city Ohio, USA). I don’t have any answers, but this seems to be my quest too. Our economy still trips and falls over expectations of double-digit stakeholder returns that come at the cost of laying of thousands of people every year. Entrepreneurship is on the rise as a result, but without support systems in place to help shift a mindset from corporate to independent, it’s rocky at best and stressing everyone out as businesses open (bringing hope) then close (shifting hope to doubt).

    So far, the best progress I’ve made seems to be simply encouraging joie de vivre—coffee with friends and really listening (aka put the phone away!), craft beer community hours where people have a chance to meet other people face to face (aka not on facebook, and NOT networking), glasses of wine at local wineries to help to develop a sense of pleasure again (slowing down), and random dinners either out of doors or at new local restaurants to encourage connection with nature and our food. While it doesn’t help with the big problems, it is changing the atmosphere of fear and gloom to include bigger and broader strokes of joy and peace and hope.

    I’ll be following your progress and “benchmarking” frequently! (And I’ll drink a cuppa tea in your honor.)

  5. Dyrke Schaefer says

    Another great thought provoking commentary. I’ll certainly be following your progress with the changes you’d like to make in Guernsey. At some point, I hope to come and check it out ( just a day’s journey from the Netherlands ). My impression is that many, many people realise that real change in societies is needed and that major shifts are just around the corner. Most don’t have answers. I know I don’t. Most are just waiting to see how things play out. I will certainly be doing my best to share my thoughts and ideas with friends and family as often as possible.

    Thanks for the inspiration.


  6. At this time I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming over again to read further news.

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