Every once in a while, you stumble across a data set that creates a real "Aha!" moment. I experienced that today, when the folks at CashNetUSA sent me a map ranking U.S. states by the level of motivation shown by the people who live there.
The map draws on a variety of data, including how willing they are to eat healthy and exercise, whether they're growing more (or less) obese, how frequently they social and volunteer and, most important, how many businesses they start.
The following map shows how motivated people are, state by state. The greener the state, the higher level of motivation. E.g. Coloradans are the most motivated, while West Virginians are the least motivated. (If you're curious, here are the detailed maps.)
If the general configuration of this map seems familiar, it's because states where people are least motivated are also the so-called "fly-over" states whose manufacturing sectors were hit the hardest by automation, free trade and de-unionization.
In the past, the people living in these economically depressed area would have been motivated to find work elsewhere. Today, however, people seem to lack the "get and go" to, well..., "get up and go." As the conservative pundit Michael Barone pointed out in Newsweek:
"Americans see themselves as people on the move. When the going gets tough, or when opportunity beckons, we get up and go. We move around a lot. Actually, we don't--or don't nearly as much as we used to. The percentage of Americans moving every year is less than that of half a century ago and down significantly since the early 1990s."
Apparently, rather than make the positive changes required to become more successful, many in fly-over states would rather eat junk food, sit on the couch, complain about the economy, and vote for politicians who promise a return to the Wonder Years.