The Futures Effect
How to make the future an asset for your health and wellbeing
Every decision and choice you make has an impact on your future and the future of the people around you. Men, women, children, people you know, people you don’t know and will never meet, people who are not yet born, and people who will live well beyond your lifespan. How much and how far into the future your influence reaches is unknown, but the fact that you will have an impact on others is beyond question.
At the same time, as others are influenced by your decisions and choices, your words, your behaviour and your actions, so are you by theirs. That you exist today is a testimony to that fact, as it is a consequence of millions, billions — who knows, even trillions — of decisions and choices made by people other than you, including your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents — all the way back to the behaviour of unicellular organisms and, even beyond that, to some origin event.
Over the past 10 months, while trying to adapt to and cope with the immense changes that COVID19 has brought along, I’ve been thinking a lot about the effect we have on the people around us, and the sometimes unintended consequences of our behaviour.
The lesson from that pondering is how our behaviour, insignificant and innocent as it might seem to us, can have a global impact. For a year now, we have been under the influence of the consequences of human behaviour. Behaviour that started in China and which has spread globally through human-to-human contact. Behaviour that probably did not have the intention of changing the world, but did so, and was carried along through the decisions and choices of millions of people. The result we all know: nearly 100 million people infected worldwide, more than 2 million of whom have died, not to speak of entire economies that have collapsed. On a more positive note, new economies have emerged as new opportunities have been created.
I’m not out on a blame game here, but I want to raise awareness of what this pandemic has made visible. It has made it very clear how interconnected we are, and how our behaviour affects other people far beyond our imagination. Thus, your behaviour matters in the grand scheme of things. It matters a lot.
The question is: why is this interconnectedness so difficult to grasp? Why is it so difficult to embrace the concept that we are interconnected and see it as a strength rather than a weakness? Maybe it is just that we had stopped feeling or seeing it — but we can certainly feel and see it now.
The fact that our individual behaviour matters to others is also something that has been suppressed over time. Up until recently, it was probably easier to deny that we create our reality and that we are responsible for the world we have created. It might be that, from a short-term perspective, it is so much easier to blame others than to look inside and deal with our own shortcomings. The magnitude of our responsibility can also be very overwhelming, but I’m convinced we can overcome this.
We are the future, and we have within us the tools needed to overcome our fear of the future, fear of our influence and fear of our responsibility.
How?, you may ask.
One of the underlying issues is that the future is inherently uncertain, and we don’t like uncertainty. We are also more prone to go for a less rewarding but immediate benefit rather than to resist the temptation of an immediate reward in favour of a bigger reward later.
Futures thinking, futurization, forecasting… whenever the future is concerned, we immediately associate it with uncertainty and delayed gratification. But what if this image of the future is incorrect? Yes, the future is unknown and therefore uncertain. You never know what you are going to get — unless you start thinking about future trends, create images of the future, design the future on purpose and align your decisions and choices to it.
When you plan your next holiday, does that make your future more certain or less certain? Making a choice for your holiday destination: does that delay your gratification? The happiest part of your vacation is often long before your holiday itself, when you are planning it. Thinking about your upcoming holiday also can get you through a difficult day just by bringing it to mind. I know I have often said to myself, when my energies were waning, “Soon I’ll be on holiday, yeah!” and continued working.
So it is important to have something to look forward to, plan for and make into a reality. Well, what about designing a good future on purpose?!
Incorporating futures thinking into our decisions and choices has both short-term and long-term benefits. I believe that understanding this will help us overcome our fear of the future and motivate us to start setting long-term objectives.
Again, think of going on holiday. What are the benefits of choosing a destination and planning your holiday six months before you actually go on holiday? Compare this with when you leave it up to chance.
A good future for mankind is not created by chance. It is built on every decision and choice we make, the actions we take or do not take, and the time left for us to make a difference.
Today, by Futurizing Yourself— the practice of intentionally and proactively incorporating futures thinking into your decision, choices and actions to create a GOOD life and GREAT future for yourself and others — we have a chance to consciously make a difference in the world by transcending our limitations, rising above our shortcomings and becoming more in phase with the fast-changing world we’ve created.
The benefits of futurizing y’ourself on your life, your health and wellbeing, and the way you feel, are an immediate reward that doesn’t have to stand in the way of the later, bigger rewards for you, the economy, society and Planet Earth.
I call this “the futures effect*”: the short-term and long-term rewards that occur when we develop our time-travelling potential and enhance our futures-thinking mindset, allowing us to make better-informed decisions and choices for our future today.
To be continued…
Be good to yourself and y’our future.
Osteopath, Body-centred Stress Coach, Author and the founder of the Reaset Approach to manage stress and build resilience through futurization and foresight
- The Futures Effect is a term and concept coined by Tom Meyers (2021) to portray the ensuing result(s) from futurizing y’ourself and incorporate futures thinking into your and our (y’our) decisions, choices and actions.
- Tom Meyers (2018). Futurize Yourself — Design your life on purpose. http://www.futurizeyourself.com
- Jane Mcgonigal (2017) Our Puny Human Brains Are Terrible at Thinking About the Future. https://slate.com/technology/2017/04/why-people-are-so-bad-at-thinking-about-the-future.html
- Kamila Sip, Jay Dixit & David Rock (2018).Why it’s so hard to think effectively about the future. https://qz.com/work/1494807/why-its-so-hard-to-think-effectively-about-the-future
- Carla Herreria Russo(2016) The Happiest Part Of Your Vacation Isn’t What You Think How about that? https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-make-the-most-of-vacation
- Jeroen Nawijn, et al. (2010) Vacationers Happier, but Most not Happier After a Holiday. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11482-009-9091-9