Association of Colleges

November 12, 2009 03:00 ET

27.5 Million Brits Affected by IFS (In Future Syndrome)

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Nov. 12, 2009) - Tomorrow never comes for millions of Brits who have hit the pause button on their life during the recession.

It would seem we have become a procrastination nation as four fifths of Britons (80 per cent) admit they have deferred something over the last two years with half (49 per cent) blaming the recession. The syndrome has meant they have put their dreams including learning a new skill (15 per cent), changing careers (eight per cent), getting fit (37 per cent) and going travelling (19 per cent), firmly on hold.

But people should not despair according to the Association of Colleges (AoC) who commissioned the research - 'In future syndrome' (IFS) is not terminal and 2010 is set to be a year of action for the country.

More than four fifths of Britons (85 per cent) who have put something off claim they will get around to doing at least one thing in the next year. And many have already made progress. Out of those with work or skills related intentions, 35 per cent have already researched the courses or qualifications they would need while 14 per cent have actually got in touch with their local college.

Besides the recession, it is lack of money (49 per cent), time (50 per cent), confidence (32 per cent) and skills (12 per cent) that appear to be fuelling IFS. Confidence is a particular issue - 40 per cent of those who put off changing their career did so due to lack of self belief and 20 per cent of those who delayed gaining new qualifications cited the same reason.

Martin Doel, CEO of the AoC, said:

"Thinking up ifs and buts why you can't do things is a natural instinct, but it's a real shame lack of confidence and self belief are listed as reasons for delays. Rather than stalling on ambitions during a recession, instead people should be looking at their skills, talents, careers and interests and looking for the opportunities that exist. Colleges are the perfect place to start putting your plans into place, whatever your dreams and ambitions are."

Donna Dawson, psychologist, commented:

"IFS can keep us from achieving our dreams because once we start putting things off, it becomes easier to continue to do so, and harder to find the discipline and self-confidence to change.

"The opposite of IFS is to focus specifically on what we want, to set it as a goal, and then to break down this goal into smaller actions that will help us to achieve it - actions that can be undertaken on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis. Also, making a list of those things that are hindering us from achieving our goal, and putting solutions next to these problems, can help us to clarify and visualise the whole process. Writing down a concrete plan of action reinforces our intentions and can help to motivate us if we begin to feel frustrated, depressed or unconfident. And feeling in control of a situation is the fastest way to regain self-confidence."

Colleges Week (9-15 November) is a national celebration of the role colleges play in providing opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities. The week is coordinated and organised by the Association of Colleges and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact the Colleges Week team on 020 7419 7322 or collegesweek @

Research was carried out by PCP. Total sample size was 1064 18-69 year old adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in November 2009. The survey was carried out online.

(i) According to mid-2008 ONS data there are 34,410,780 adults between 18-69 years old in England. 80% of our sample say they have delayed something over the last two years. 80% of 34,410,780 is 27,528,624.

Contact Information

  • Colleges Week Team
    on 020 7419 7322
    collegesweek @


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