COVID-19 hasn't killed Canadians' ambitions, finds CIBC

Big Six bank survey indicates long-term goals have not changed, but respondents are striking a balance with practicality in mind

COVID-19 hasn't killed Canadians' ambitions, finds CIBC

Even though they’re still living under the long shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Canadians have not given up on their long-term life and financial goals, according to a new survey from CIBC.

In a Maru/Blue survey of about 1,500 adult Canadians commissioned by the bank, 27% of respondents said Covid has had an impact on their ambitions. Around two fifths (42%) said they’ve put their larger ambitions on the back burner, and nearly three fifths (58%) said they’ve re-evaluated what’s truly important in their lives.

Still, that doesn’t mean Canadians have lost their capacity to dream. A quarter of respondents (25%) said the pandemic has prompted them to create a bucket list of goals and ambitions, and nearly three times as many (73%) said their goals have not changed much compared to before the pandemic.

When asked to list their long-term ambitions, travel (29%) and freedom from debt (21%) emerged as the top two answers. Those were followed by making positive lifestyle changes, getting back on track after the pandemic, and saving for retirement.

"Canadians are staying true to their long-term ambitions, and while the pandemic may have set some back in pursuing their goals, they remain focused on taking the right steps to make their ambitions a reality," said Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president of Financial and Investment Advice.

The disruptive effect of the pandemic was clear to see as nearly three quarters of the respondents (73%) reported focusing more on smaller, practical ambitions.

A question about primary goals revealed an almost-even split among Canadians between realizing one of their big ambitions (28%), paying off debt (32%), and saving for the future (30%). Furthermore, 53% of Canadians agreed that big ambitions and smaller, practical ones were of equal importance.

Looking at the challenges in the way of Canadians reaching their goals, the survey found 37% were held back by money-related obstacles (37%); another 17% said managing everyday commitments were their main issue. Other roadblocks cited included time constraints (11%), not knowing where to start (8%), and confidence (8%).

Confidence isn’t an issue with the majority of Canadians, however, with 64% saying they’re confident they’ll achieve the big ambitions on their lists eventually and 56% seeing themselves as an ambitious or goal-oriented person. But while 48% agreed that sharing your ambition with someone makes achieving it more likely, just 25% said they seek help and guidance from other people in achieving their goals.

Beyond that, over half of respondents said they’re taking an informal approach to reaching their goals, including 64% who’ve never sought mentorship and 52% who’ve never written down specific goals.

“Taking small but impactful steps towards your goals is the most effective way to do it,” Lucreziano said. “Having the right conversations with your external support system - friends, family, mentors, and advisors - can help you see the necessary steps to take, and make the process easier."