Businesswomen and executives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. No matter in whatever role we find ourselves, we as women are natural futurists. But we can become better at it. Here are four things to consider to learn how to think like a futurist.
Think – Actually, think about your thinking. To be efficient in a complex world, our brains default to patterns of thinking and of behaviour. We inherit values from our families and from society and we seldom stop to consider why we believe certain things or why we think in a certain way.
I am not suggesting that we should necessarily change our values or beliefs, but if you can carve out a little time to reflect on your own history and your future, and the future you would want to see manifest, then you are on your way to learning to think like a futurist. If you have any beliefs or opinions that you refuse to examine, that may be a red flag to you that there is an area in your life that you need to pay closer attention to.
Learn – To cope with, let alone thrive, in our fast-paced world, we need to be constant learners. That doesn’t mean that we necessarily need to return to university and get a new degree. There is plenty of content and learning material online that will allow us to explore new ideas, get deeper insight, and find alternative solutions to the challenges we have. We should cultivate a curiosity about our world and keep learning so that we never feel left behind. Of course, there is also a limit. We don’t want to become gluttons for all the information in the world, but choose areas or streams of ideas, to learn that will help us.
Anticipate – Anticipation is a key future skill to develop. It is an expectation of something that is coming. Our anticipation may be an emotional reaction of happiness and excitement, or of fear and anxiety. What is key to anticipating the future is twofold. We must deal with the emotion, and we must prepare.
The emotional part is more difficult. You know when you anticipate a bad event like a difficult conversation, a retrenchment at work or bad news, your body floods with chemicals causing complex emotions to erupt. The same is true of good news, only different chemicals. But in either situation, while we are in the middle of a chemical emotional soup, we cannot think clearly. If you want to anticipate the future more rationally, then make time to deal with these emotions. Find quiet, alone time to experience them, and then let them pass.
After that, your brain can calm down and then you can make rational plans. It doesn’t matter if the future you anticipate is so-called ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ you can prepare for it once you are calm.
Formulate – The future has not happened yet. There are directions that we can go in, but if you can write out what kind of future you would prefer, for yourself, your family, your business, or department, then you have a much better chance of achieving that vision. When people are disappointed in how life has turned out for them, it is often because they wished that the future would be different, but they never actually planned it. If you plan it, create a formula for it, and write out the strategies and tactics to achieve it, then you are most certainly improving your ability as a futurist.
These are four elements to Think Like a Futurist – Think about your Thinking, keep Learning, deal with the emotions of your Anticipation and create a Formula. There is more to learn, but if you start with this, then your future is already in better shape than it was before.
Charlotte Kemp – Futures Alchemist
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