Canadians Prioritize Rich Life Experiences Over Career and Monetary Success

    - American Express Research Questions Whether Canadians Are Living A
    Rewarding Life And Identifies Emerging Sector: The Potentialists

TORONTO, Oct. 14 /CNW/ - A growing number of Canadians are rethinking their priorities and are searching for new experiences to help them live life to the fullest. This is one of the trends identified in a study commissioned by American Express that reveals some unique insights into the way Canadians think about life.

The results show a growing trend towards a way of life referred to as "Lateral Living" with more people exploring alternative avenues towards personal fulfillment and success. According to the study, more than a quarter of people (28%) fall into this category, and can be described as "The New Potentialists".

This manifests itself in people branching off from the traditional path of their life to reach their full potential as individuals through the pursuit of their passions. That can mean throwing themselves into charity work, embarking on a second career, or going on adventure travel trips.

"It's far more than dabbling in a hobby or passing interest - it's really about chasing your personal dream" says Jeremy Gutsche, innovation expert, author of Exploiting Chaos, founder of and a consultant on the project. "People are saying to themselves, 'there's more to life than this' - but it doesn't mean they're about to give up their day job. Instead they are making time for themselves in addition to meeting their regular commitments in search of their own personal vision of meaning and fulfillment."

But what does this trend mean for Canadians as a whole?

The research suggests that many do aspire to make some changes in their lives. Travelling the world, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures ranks top of the wish list for half of us (49%), and more than a third (36%) would like to spend more time enjoying a hobby, while more than a quarter (28%) would just like to spend more time with their family.

While more than a third (37%) said that the economic recession has made them re-evaluate what is important in their lives, less than one-in-ten feel that making more money and career success is their main priority.

In fact, when asked to prioritize aspects of their lives, nearly half of Canadians (45%) say that time with family/friends is on top, followed by a healthy lifestyle (17%) and rich life experiences (15%), while monetary and career success are less important (9% and 7% respectively). And when asked about their current life, more than three-in-four Canadians (77%) are more focused on their personal life experiences than their careers. This is especially true for women.

Overall, the mood is one of optimism, and while this may be a journey for some people, three in four believe they will realize their full potential.

American Express says it commissioned the study to better understand how to connect with people as the company set about creating its advertising and marketing programs.

David Barnes, VP Communications at American Express Canada explains, "The insights helped us move away from some of the celebrity focused campaigns of the past. Our new campaign with the tag-line 'Realize The Potential' taps into this growing trend where people are looking to do more in their lives. It's as much about the potential of the individual as it is the potential of our products and services."

The campaign suggests for example that the word "Impossible" is two letters too long, and encourages people to "be a traveller, not a tourist".

"This is very much the attitude of the Potentialist, the type of person who is getting on and doing the things that excite them and not wondering 'what if?'," says Barnes.

    Some Research Highlights:

    -  80% of women believe they will reach their full potential; only 74% of
       men feel the same way
    -  89% of women are optimistic about the future, compared with 84% of men
    -  Two in five women (40%) say the past year has made them re-evaluate
       what's important in their lives, compared with 34% of men
    -  90% of those surveyed believe Canadians have as much of a chance of
       realizing their potential as the rest of the world

    Regional Findings

    -  British Columbians are more likely to believe they lead a lifestyle
       that is culturally enriched and stimulating than anyone else in the
       country, with 63% indicating this is true.
    -  Albertans have been most impacted by the economic climate over the
       past year, with 42% indicating the recession has caused them to
       re-evaluate what's important in their lives, and 51% indicating that
       they have recently changed the focus of their lives.

    -  Residents of the Prairie provinces are Canada's most optimistic: 89%
       stated they are optimistic about the future, and 80% believe they will
       realize their full potential.
    -  When looking to the future, Ontarians responded most favourably to the
       thought of spending more time at home with the family (31%).
    -  Atlantic Canadians are most interested in pursuing a life-long
       ambition, with 20% citing this as a goal (compared with 12% in BC and
       15% in Ontario).

Global Findings

A similar global survey was conducted by The Future Laboratory and commissioned by American Express in the summer of 2009, indicated that 'Potentialism' is a global trend that demonstrates itself in other major countries including Australia and the UK.

    -  20% of Australians say they're currently realizing their potential -
       with the number one barrier to doing so being time (45%).
    -  46% of Australians want to learn a new skill; 37% want to face a new
       mental or physical challenge.
    -  16% per cent of respondents from the UK say they are realizing their
       potential, but four out of five say the recession has made them
       re-evaluate what's important
    -  Only 21% of UK respondents consider their career a definition of their
       success; 46% say they would like to learn a new skill.

Methodology Details

From September 16 to September 17, 2009 Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among 1003 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists and have yearly household incomes over $50,000 from all Canadian provinces, except Quebec. The margin of error - which measures sampling variability - is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a representative sample. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Angus Reid Strategies

Angus Reid Strategies' polls are conducted using Canada's premier online panel, Angus Reid Forum (, which is recruited via an industry-leading process that incorporates a randomized, widespread invitation approach and a triple opt-in screening procedure. The panel is maintained through state-of-the-art sampling techniques and frequent verifications of personal identity, contact information and demographic characteristics. This premier online survey platform presents respondents with highly visual, interactive, and engaging surveys, ensuring that panel members provide thoughtful and reliable responses.

About American Express in Canada

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express Cards in Canada. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel, Travel Services Network and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

SOURCE American Express

For further information: For further information: on the statistics or to speak to a Canadian living a Potentialist lifestyle, please contact: Killeen Kelly on behalf of American Express Canada, Tel: (416) 644-2273, Email:; Jolene Price, Tel: (905) 474-8746, Email:

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