The Foundations of a New Marketing Paradigm V

This is the fifth of a series of articles written by our colleague David B. Wolfe noted author and older consumer expert.


by David B. Wolfe

How Life Focus Changes with Each Season of Life

Each season of life has a characteristic primary life focus. Life focus is a catalyst of personal development and has the largest influence on our worldviews – not on what we believe, but in how we connect to the world. A young child, for example, connects perceptually to the world quite differently than a teenager does.

How we perceive the world changes by season of life, in large part because our primary life focus changes by season of life:

SPRING: Play is the primary life focus. Among higher form animate creatures, play is critical to learning. Even small salmon can be observed darting in play among freshly fallen leaves that have not yet flattened out on the riverbed. This play helps to build muscles that will be need on the return trip home to spawn a few years hence. Kittens, puppies, lambs, kids, calves and colts all play to develop motor and other skills they will need for a self-sufficient life.

The imperative to play draws human juveniles into activities that aid physical development, but also psychological development. Modeling life is a big part of play in Spring, whether it involves Tonka trucks and Barbie dolls in the single digit years, or dreams about heroic achievements, material accomplishments and career possibilities in later adolescence. Modeling of life scenarios is essential to achieving the primary developmental objective of Spring: acquiring basic intellectual, emotional and social skills needed to enter adulthood with reasonable prospects for success.

SUMMER: Work is the primary life focus. The fruits of work enable people to achieve self-sufficiency. It is also the activity people depend on to establish their social value and give material proof of their accomplishments, and their social and vocational potential.

Competition for social and vocational status is generally the most intense during Summer. As true throughout most of the animal kingdom, young people aggressively vie with each other for mates, social standing, and career advancement. Work, and the material gains it leads to is central to social and vocational competitiveness. It is the single most important activity for fulfilling Summer’s primary developmental objective: becoming someone socially and vocationally.

FALL: Life Balance begins replacing work as the primary life focus. Of course, not every person entering midlife responds to the inner self‘s call of the for life balance. However, it is the emergent life focus of Fall that represents a midlife shift in worldview away from the often all-consuming, often fiercely competitive season of Summer when most people end up with little time to devote to their own, deeper inner needs.

The inner self, long submerged by an outer-world directed agenda, seeks a simpler life in which focus shifts from becoming someone to being someone. This facilitates fulfillment of the primary developmental objective of Fall: inner-self and spiritual development that reveals the ultimate meaning of one’s life

WINTER: Becoming one with all is the primary life focus in Winter. Older people experience this as a stronger sense that everything is somehow connected. Many project this sense in shaping their legacies for incoming generations. Concomitant with the development of this greater sense of connectedness comes a desire for reconciliation with life’s harder moments. This reflects the universal desire to be at peace with self, family, friends and the world at-large as one draws one’s last breath in fulfillment of Winter’s primary developmental objective: reaching a transcendent state that deepens life satisfaction and increases resilience in the face of untoward conditions the future may hold.

Prospects of marketing success rise when marketing communications are keyed to both the primary developmental objective and the life focus of the coveted customers.

Next: How the stories we live by change by season of life.

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