January 2004 - Forecast for the Year
Themes and Trends for 2004
2004 brings some welcome relief from the intensive chaotic and aggressive energy of the past year. This year, we seek truth and Truth — that is, we seek to know the truth about what is happening around us in the physical world and seek to find our own Truth about the nature of the Universe.
We will see this truth-seeking demonstrated by more attention to finding the hidden truths, forcing out imposters, publicizing lies, deceptions and distortions as people demand more truth-telling from our corporate and political leaders as well as from their friends and family. We may see more public scandals this year as in recent years as the search for truth continues.
In the United States, we are entering a very political year where the choice for our President will become a growing theme until the November elections. The general population is tired of cover-ups and will increasingly demand to know the truth this year. Leaders who are honest and are perceived as telling the truth will do well. With quite a large selection of possible presidential candidates, this year should prove to be very interesting.
The war in Iraq with all its harsh realities will be a focus of great discussion this year. Expect to see many revelations about facts or actions that have been hidden until now. And expect to see many theories about the best course of action. There are no easy answers to resolve a bad situation.
We continue to see polarization between those who desire to control the population, media, religion and thoughts vs. those who believe in freedom of thought, religion and less centralized control. This struggle will continue to play out for years to come.
As people find their own truths, they may find a growing desire to connect with a Higher Power if they haven't already. This will generate continuing interest in spiritual activities of all types — an area that has seen a great resurgence in recent years.
We will continue to see public evidence of those who believe that there is "one god" that everyone should believe in as part of the polarization theme. Many people will question this theory and continue to put pressure on public organizations to recognize freedom from religious persecution and government-endorsed religion as a core mandate of the United States Constitution. It is possible we could see the phrase "under god" removed from our pledge of allegiance in 2004.
Communication in all forms will be an important theme this year — seeking truth, telling truth, wanting to know the truth, desiring to tell the truth, dealing with rumors and lies, continued surging growth of the Internet, many new uses for wireless gadgets as well as connecting with friends, family and associates.
There will also be many very strong theories about how things should be or should not be, and possibly great debates about what is right or what is wrong, what is ethical and what is not ethical. Ethics (or lack of ethics) in all industries will be a theme as the search for truth unfolds.
As the energy of fun becomes more prominent, we will see an interest in adventurous endeavors, travel, risk taking, laughter, silliness and activities that lighten our mood or make our life more interesting. Expect to see some drama, acting out and people going overboard as well. When this happens, try to remember that with anything, there is a balanced approach, an impoverished approach and an excess approach. Find the balanced place for yourself by connecting with what is true for you and let others do what is right for them.
Along with the desire for truth, we will see people wanting to see all sides to an issue, learning what is behind each point of view, then deciding for themselves what is the most realistic course of action. This approach is a great contrast to 2003's aggressive energy of action without much thought.
A realistic approach takes more time, so things might seem a bit slower compared to those who prefer to just jump in without thinking or explaining their actions to anyone else. This change is a refreshing one. The downside could be endless debates without any action.
There will be many new discoveries that are revealed this year, building on last year's destruction, cleaning house and the new beginnings made by many people.
We expect to see some business growth and economic expansion this year although we are not yet on a completely smooth course. There is still the possibility of major set-backs as corporate, religious or political scandals are revealed. Some people will take appropriate, realistic risks and others will rush ahead too fast, then pay the price for their greed.
The travel industry should benefit from people's desire to have fun and adventure. The airlines will continue to struggle to make a profit with the many new demands of security that impose ever stronger restrictions on people's ability to travel easily.
Technology should be a growth area in 2004 as new uses for wireless devices expand into everything. With communication a theme, the Internet will continue its explosive growth. The proliferation of spam and its damage will continue to be a big focus this year as more and more countries attempt to find a solution to misuse of the Internet. People will demand truth and have little patience for spammers' attempts to hide behind their favorite tricks.
Truth in advertising will be demanded and consumers will expect realistic product descriptions and warranties.
As in 2003, privacy and individual rights will continue to be a subject of great interest by the public, forcing governments to try to deal with growing identify theft and misuse of personal, private information. The European community has been much farther ahead of the US in this regard. We still expect to see more serious consideration in the US for adopting the European guidelines for data privacy and protection, over the strident protests of US companies who have greatly abused the information available to them.
All in all, 2004 will feel like a better year than the several previous years in many ways. There could be shocking revelations that test this statement. As truth becomes a greater focus, people will find themselves dealing with reality rather than illusion, deception or deceit. While that may be uncomfortable for some, it is a much healthier way to operate.
We wish you good health, good friends, good times and abundance in 2004.
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, 2003
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Page updated: October 16, 2023 Institute for Management Excellence, Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved
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