It May Be Good, It May Be Bad, But Change Is a Constant for Women

If women seem different from the way they did a year ago, you’re not imagining things. A survey conducted by RoperASW for O, The Oprah Magazine has the data to prove it. The polling pinpointed various aspects of life and asked women whether they’d made changes in the past year or planned to do so during the year to come. Their answers made it clear that change (whether important or trivial) is the modern norm.

Sizable minorities of women pointed to major changes in life status. That included 12 percent getting engaged/married/remarried, 8 percent getting divorced or separated, 10 percent having a first child and 11 percent having additional children. A striking number (25 percent) cited “caring for an elderly relative or friend.” While marketers hope women interpret every change in their lives as a shopping opportunity, the financial change garnering the biggest vote was “getting out of/reducing debt” (42 percent). That easily surpasses the number buying a new major appliance (30 percent) or those buying or leasing a new car (29 percent).

Since many changes are imposed on people by external circumstance, you might think they’d cling to continuity elsewhere in their lives. But they don’t, judging by the number of women making what we might term elective changes. These range from changing their hairstyle or trying new hair products (49 percent) to changing their clothing style (23 percent) to joining a new club or group (18 percent). You’ll be pleased (if perhaps surprised) to learn that 40 percent of respondents mentioned “becoming kinder and friendlier” as one of the changes they’ve made or soon will make. That’s fewer than the number who spoke of reading more (58 percent), but greater than the number “becoming more computer or technology proficient” (34 percent) or developing a new hobby (20 percent).

As you’d expect, health and career are major focal points for change. It’s noteworthy that the number who cited losing weight (53 percent) was smaller than the number “improving personal eating habits, diet or nutrition” (71 percent) or increasing their level of exercise (64 percent). As for work, 23 percent cited getting a new job; 14 percent are changing careers. Eight percent are retiring, while 9 percent are quitting to stay home full time with their children. Six percent spoke of starting a business. When deciding on these and other changes, women rely mainly on their internal resources. Thus, many more said they “followed my own instincts about what was right for me” (83 percent) than mentioned doing an Internet search on the subject (34 percent).