The Futures Effect (Interview)
The Benefits of Futures Thinking for y’our Health and Wellbeing
Interview by Mauricio Herandez from the ‘Universidad del Futuro’ and osteopath, body-centred stress coach, author and influencer Tom Meyers
☑︎ Why a futurist mindset is good for your health and wellbeing
☑︎ The benefits of futures thinking now and later
☑︎ How a future narrative helped me out of a suicidal #depression
☑︎ The questions that saved a life.
☑︎ What to do, when your purpose hasn’t found you.
☑︎ Why futures thinking is a stress management tool.
☑︎ Preventing climate change
☑︎ Mindfulness and the power of now are ok but don’t forget y’our future
☑︎ Mañana?! The danger of postponing tomorrow.
☑︎ The upcoming book: The Futures Effect (Futurize Yourself — part 2)
This interview is also on Mixcloud:
Mauricio Hernandez: Hi, everyone. Today, we are starting a series of interviews with futurists, enforcer practitioners from all around the world. The very first one is with my friend, Tom Meyers. Tom is a futurist, a writer, a public speaker, and an osteopath, and he’s based in Belgium. He wrote a book called Futurize Yourself, that I’m sure is going to be very inspiring for a lot of you as it was for me. Right now he’s preparing a second book, and he’s going to talk about it in our interview. If you have any comments, please just let us know here in our social media or directly in our website, universidaddelfuturo.net. I hope you enjoy this interview, and see you very soon.
Mauricio: Hi, everyone, how’re you doing? I hope you’re doing very good. This is one of the first interviews we’re doing here for the Universidad del Futuro. This is the very first one, actually, and I’m very, very glad that the first one is with my friend, with my friend here, Tom Meyers. Hi, Tom, how you doing?
Tom Meyers: Hi, Mauricio. I’m doing very well. Very excited. Thank you very much for having me and, yes, inspire people on your end of the world, because I’m in Brussels, Belgium, thousands of kilometres away from you. [chuckles]
Mauricio: I know. That’s something I like very much, because I know that you’re going to talk to us of a lot of things, a lot of interesting things you have done, and why future has become so important in your life. I think that’s very good to hear for everybody here on this side of the world. First of all, I want to ask you, Tom. Well, I appreciate, I really appreciate the fact that you are here. Thank you very much again. I have said that a lot of times before. Well, you are an osteopath, you are a public speaker, you’re a writer, you’re a futurist. You’re a lot of things, Tom, but why don’t you tell us first, who’s Tom Meyers?
Tom: [laughs] Well, they call me Tom-Tom the Health Navigator. I’m what they call a multipotentialite, so I can do many things, and I’m good at many things. I haven’t specialised in anything, really, but that’s okay. These days, multipotentialites, they are the future. Where to start? I’m 50. Let’s start with that one, 50 years old, so give me some credit. What I am today wasn’t what I was about 20, 21 years ago. 21 years ago, I was running a gourmet deli, which meant I was selling charcuterie and cheese. It also was not really my place.
My conversion was around the age of 29. Today, and what we’re going to talk about is probably also about that journey, in our interview or into what we’re going to share today. Who I am today is somebody that feels that he wants to share his story, share how the future is something that we can use to the benefit of our health, our well-being, to the many challenges that we are facing currently in the world, including COVID, climate change, the influence of technology on our lives, instead of looking to the past to go forward, to really go forward from the future or with the future in mind.
That is something that I really want to share today, and I think that’s my main activity, even as an osteopath and body-centred stress coach, which is a manual therapist helping people with neck, back, and shoulder pain, or depression, or change. Even there, I feel that we must have a futurist mindset, because at the end of the day, it comes all to how do you want to feel in a fast-changing world? How do you want to feel on an ideal day?
You have to know how. You have to define that word, feeling. How do I want to feel? Then, when you know that word, you can start to implement into your decisions, choices, and actions actually things that make you feel that way. Even from a health perspective, being a futurist or having a futurist mindset is so essential, but it seems that we never have asked the question, or that we haven’t really dared to look too much ahead. Maybe that’s cultural, or is that because, yes, we’ve come from a long period of surviving in the moment, but in a lot of parts of the world, this is still the case.
For us people that are in a situation where we have a roof over our heads, we know where our food is coming from, or where at least you can buy it, we have to start looking a little bit further ahead, because the future is coming very fast. If we are not preparing or anticipating for this, for the changes that are coming, it will impact us not only on the individual level, but also on the societal level into something that is going to create a lot of stress and a lot of discomfort.
I believe that by looking forward, by anticipating and preventing some of these things to happen, but also how to become more resilient for the changes that are going to happen, that we can do a lot of good today and feel it today. What is often misunderstood is that when we talk about the future, it’s of course far away, but we can feel it and do something that changes our lives today.
It’s not delayed gratification, it’s not you need to prevent things, and you need to stop doing this and that because of the future. No, you can have positive influences on your daily life by thinking as a futurist, by thinking ahead. Actually, I feel that is sometimes the challenge that we have or that I have in explaining this, that it’s not necessarily all about the future. It’s actually about today, but for today, tomorrow, the day after, 5 years time, 10 years time, and I’ve created and recreated from a vision that we want to or our preferred future that we want to achieve.
Mauricio: Yes. I think that’s one of the main concepts that we are working here in foresight and futures, the people like both of us that work with this. I think this is one of the main concepts, the fact that we have to work the future now in the present, because actually, there’s no distinction between present and future. I would like to ask you, Tom, how did you come up with this? How did you come closer to futures, and foresights, and all these kind of concepts that I understand you were not very related to before. How did it happen?
Tom: It was while writing my book, which got the title of Futurize Yourself. I think the first title was something, Who is Tom-Tom? Of course, that was just like an interim title. The content from how did I get here, I was standing on a stage in Italy giving a presentation and I thought, “How did I get here from this depressed suicidal person 14 years earlier at that stage?” “
When I opened my shop, I thought it was the greatest idea that was an opportunity that was handed to me by a friend. After years of traveling around the world and working in hotels and restaurants as a waiter or a wine waiter on a cruise ship, I was finally going to settle, and this was the opportunity that would give me the standing in the community. I would finally make it in this world. Of course, two months later, it just didn’t turn out to be that way. It was a shattered dream. I’m really bringing it into the essence here because it’s a long story. The local pharmacist, Anna Marie, she was the first person I really confided in my troubles. Confided in that I was actually having a depression, and that I was not feeling very well, and that I had some really dark thoughts. It was she who told me to go and see this astrologer coach. I said, “An astrologer whatever, that’s for desperate people. Who goes to that anyway?” I was desperate enough and I went.
It was nothing what I expected in the first place. It’s not about divination or prediction about the future. No, it was just about somebody who we call today a life coach who helped me revisit my past and shed a new light on it. Then, she gave me questions to find my potential that I was born with. Then, another question to imagine how an ideal day would look like in 10 years’ time. That’s when the futurist woke up in me. I didn’t really know it at the time, I only started to see the future, thinking part of that when I was writing my book. Before writing my book which was published in 2018, I had never heard of something like futurists. I had not heard about this before.
Looking into the concept, at that moment, it was that futurists were posting things on Facebook, and I got to see them and some connections were posting about this strange guy in Switzerland called Gerd Leonhard. I’ve tumbled upon one of his videos, and I thought, “My God.” He’s talking about the fast-changing world, and I thought from then, “Here I am, I’m talking about a book about how to find your potential. Has this still value into this fast-changing world?” I nearly had a trauma of thinking that my book had no value into this fast-changing world.
I went looking and reading, and I went from one book to the other. I’ve read his book, Humanity vs. Technology, and it was a revelation to me to see these concepts. Then, I was looking at my book and what I had written, and I actually had written these concepts from my own personal experience without knowing that they were concepts in the first place. [laughs] It was like, “No, my book has value. It’s actually a practical futurist book.” [chuckles] This is how I came to be fascinated. I had nearly 20 years of experience in being a futurist. [laughs] I didn’t know.
It’s also in the practical elements, because many of the known futurists are conceptualists. They are abstract thinkers about the future. My future is practical, just like a sportsman. A sportsman always lives towards the next game, the next Olympics, the next European Championships. They’re always focused on the future. Athletes are the perfect futurists, because all their decisions, their choices, and directions are built towards a realisation, their dream to get where they want to be in the future.
Isn’t that fantastic? Then how you start to see futurism as something that is in our daily lives. That got me so passionate about it, Mauricio, to really see that these concepts, if you go deeper into that, and you start using them, and you start using them forward instead of just looking back always, “Oh, yes, that was interesting,” from here, from there to here, but then you start projecting them forward and using them.
My life became more meaningful, purposeful. I became happier, I became more fulfilled. Also, because I based my future on my potential. I didn’t know before my shot, before I was asked, that there was a therapist in me. When I was asked to question myself, it was obvious that there was a therapist in me. It was obvious that it was a research we need, somebody who likes to communicate, and teach, and travel, and explore. That had always been part of me, but I didn’t know. I had never defined it, I had never really come across that.
Once I knew and I imagined the future, in 10 years time, I want to be a therapist who’s developed his own approach, who had written a book about it, and is asked around the world to give presentation and workshops, as we’re doing now. This is a presentation, international, it’s global. Once I set that future out there and I made it my prime objective and all my decisions, choices, and actions, were aligned with that, it came through.
I’ve fulfilled my potential. I evolved on purpose, because I felt that this is what is in me, then I have all the qualities needed to make that into a reality. If I made that into a reality, I could imagine because I’m born with these talents, with this potential, that my life which had been meaningless would become meaningful, and that from somebody that was good for nothing, I could be good at something. That is just, for me, the wow factor that I wanted to share.
Mauricio: You talk a lot about this in your book that I think is great. Actually, I invite everybody to get Tom’s book, because Futurize Yourself is really, really a great story, because it’s the story of your life. I think that’s really important, because you wanted to share all you felt in your life since you were a teenager, basically since you were a kid, and how you found a lot of problems like we all have in our lives.
How did you go out from those problems just when you focused on your future? I think that’s really important, and that’s great. Once you realise that future was really important, especially something you talked a lot about in your book is purpose, purpose in life, how do you discover that purpose. Once you discover that purpose, you realised everything that was dark before, now, it could be different, it could be really bright. I think that’s amazing, and I think that’s one of the most important parts of the whole book.
Tom: Definitely, the parts, it’s about if purpose hasn’t found you, which it rarely does, give your life a purpose on purpose based on your potential. You will see that when it’s based on your potential, you will be very close to your purpose of life in any case. A lot of people, I hear, “Yes, I haven’t find my purpose yet.” Then I say, “Have you looked? Have you asked yourself the right questions?” The questions are in my book. They’re explained as I received them and how I found them. Also, it’s not necessarily the good thing to wait and sit back. For that buzz of purpose to come and put itself in front of your doorstep, “Here you are, here’s your purpose,” it doesn’t happen like that.
Most people need to work for it, need to question themselves, need deep questions about who they are, what they are, what their beliefs are, and also what brings them value, gives them energy, what other peoples are asking from them, what their aspirations are. All of this together, if you filter it down, brings you closer to your purpose or your potential that you can imagine your future to be like. That purpose, that aim, you put it out there.
Then when you start to walk, then you start walking, and then you get confirmed, “This is it”, or there is still something that is not completely right so that you can slowly and surely but adapt yourself and get closer to that purpose along the way. Once you find it all, you still will continue to evolve because it doesn’t stop, of course. Purpose is not something that is finite. Thankfully it is not finite. That would be boring, wouldn’t it be? [laughs]
Mauricio: Yes, absolutely. I’d like to go further to these questions you talk about. You talk about this in your book, the three questions. What were those three questions, Tom?
Tom: Let me find a way to give you those questions easily. Just hang on a moment. Let’s think this. What about that?
Mauricio: Great, that’s perfect.
Tom: Can you see that?
Mauricio: Yes, I can.
Tom: These are the three questions that I received. Eline, the coach asked me, “Describe me what you admire in others.” For me, that was something like, “I was good for nothing, my friends were always better than me.” She wanted to know in what they were better. I needed to describe that what I admired in them, “Oh, he’s so good in this, and I’m just nothing.” What I saw was that my friends were great communicators, great orators, walking dictionaries, the best jokes at the right time, while my jokes would five days later. Then, I had a good answer, but of course, it was too late by then.
I really admired that about them. The second question she gave me was, “What do people admire in you,” in the sense that you have your friends and you have you. What do people come to you and don’t go to your friends? What do you attract? That was not very easy to respond to, because I felt I was good for nothing. One of the things that I wrote down at the time was, I was working in administration at times or even in the hotels that I worked at, they always asked me when the photocopier didn’t work.
Why? Because they had some kind of a notion that if I came close to that photocopier, it would work again. I would do something with it and it would work again. More than 50% of the time, it did work again. [laughs] I have no idea how I did it, they would be there for an hour doing things, and it would not work. I come there, one minute and boom, it works again. [laughter]
Mauricio: That’s funny.
Tom: I haven’t done anything with that skill because I can’t, I don’t know what is. That’s how you answer these questions. It’s also when you go a little bit further, when I put my hands on people, when I was listening to other people, imagine, you have your auntie sitting around the table talking, and you’re going to listen in, so what do you do? You stand behind them. I put my hands on their shoulders, and automatically, my hands start massaging their neck and their shoulders. It was something that, for me, I didn’t even think about it, it just happened.
Then, when I was bored by the conversation, I would leave and they say, “Hey, Tom, don’t go away, continue doing this.” With that question, I also thought of this. One people commented on was my hands, they loved them, they loved to have that on them to do the massages. I could imagine that if somebody didn’t have a potential as a manual therapist or somebody had these bad vibes, they put their hands on these and then, “Leave me alone.” I imagined that could be a difference. My hands were loved, some people’s hands were not loved, and I said, “Okay, I’ve got good hands, therapeutic hands or something like that.” That’s a potential.
Then the third question was, “What have you done?” I thought that I could do this forever. I’ve traveled a lot, I worked on a cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth II, I’ve backpacked around the world a couple of times, travelled in South Africa for two months, traveling and moving around. That, for me, I could do that for the rest of my life easily. I love that kind of movement. I wrote that down, but also, I created a workshop into wine degustation, so how to taste wine. It was in 2000, so way before the internet was very popular. That was nothing on there at that moment.
I was looking into books and writing down and making this kind of concept, and I was drawing things and creating a little booklet and preparing a presentation. All of that, I really loved. I loved that kind of research, looking and creating new concept, so that became my research. Then when I did the presentation for the first time, I was scared, I was so nervous, but I didn’t stop, never lost my thread, and the people in the audience were saying, “How many times have you done this before, Tom?” and I said, “This is my first time.”
They said, “No, that’s not possible.” It was so natural. I had never done this before, and for people, it was like something I’ve always done. These three questions, you need to take them a little bit wider than what is actually written. That is how I came to really define my potential. I’m gonna show you another slide here. As a communicator, teacher, therapist, researcher, globe trotter, and life emotion, I knew that movement around. These are the three questions. This is what, for me, came out of that.
Mauricio: This is how you say you realised purpose is not something that is just in there and it’s just coming for you, you have to go and look for it. What’s your purpose? I think these three questions are something that is very helpful in order to help you to find your purpose, because as you said, purpose is not something that is just in there and it’s coming for you, and don’t do anything, just sit down and wait for your purpose to come over to you. That’s not the way it happens, right? You have to go for it.
Tom: Yes, for some people it does. Can you imagine that for some people, it just comes naturally into their lives? For other people like myself, it doesn’t. I never got into contact with my true potential, and that made me feel so bad. That made me feel so depressed. I was doing things, but it was like a vicious circle, I always came to the same point. I was doing something great and then it failed. The circle, in the beginning, it’s very long, like a very long trajectory of things you have to discover and it’s exciting, and then it comes full circle again. Then the next time, it’s like a much shorter circle before you get back to where you were.
That circle became always more closer and closer and closer until there was no way out anymore. For me, life had become completely meaningless. If life is meaningless, why continue? If that was it, if this misery was always coming back, I just didn’t want it. I just did not want to continue living life like that, to always be in pain, and stressed, and distressed. I wanted to give up until I was told how to find my potential and then how to futurize it and to start living more consciously on getting the skills and learning what I needed to learn to become and evolve into my full potential. That became my purpose.
Mauricio: Basically, futurizing yourself just changed your life completely.
Tom: [chuckles] It did, yes. It didn’t have a word then when I started in the year 2000. It’s only later, looking at Gerd Leonhard’s video and reading his book that that words combination popped up. Futurization is incorporating futures thinking into your present decisions and actions. That’s what futurization stands for, and yourself, yes, it’s you. In a way, you could say it’s you and ourselves, but in this case, it’s yourself, you as an individual.
That is another misconception, is that many people are waiting for others to change the world, to change their lives. “It’s not my fault, it’s the other. It’s not me, it’s this condition or that condition.” I noticed that if I went and took all of that away and became responsible of my own fulfilment, and happiness, health, and well-being, that was really the life-changer.
Mauricio: Exactly, exactly. Something that I also liked very much of what we have talked before is that the last time we talked, you told me futures can also be very, very good for your health. I think that’s a very interesting concept, because I haven’t heard that before. How come? How is it that futures can be very good and very important for your health? I’m not only talking about physical health, but also mental health. How is it? How does it work?
Tom: Well, the world is changing. Let’s take an example of the taxi driver. We know by now that more and more automated cars will come on the market. Now, taxi drivers, there are some already taxis that are fully automated, so the likelihood that a taxi driver will lose his job within this, in 5, 10 years’ time is very high. Now, if you’re a 30 or 40-year-old taxi driver today, you should know by now that this is going to be the case, that you are going to lose your job and you need to re-skill yourself. Now, will you re-skill today, so when the day comes that you lose your job, then you’re ready to take something else, or are you going to wait?
I can guarantee, when you wait, that you will have a lot of stress for a long time, and stress for a long time is really bad for your health and well-being. It changes muscular tension, so you get neck ache, back ache, shoulder ache, it changes the way you think, so anxiety, depression. Over a long time, you also have memory problems, it changes your immunities, so many things.
If you start implementing the ideas of futurization and say, “Okay, that might happen. Today, I will start learning and adapting to become agile for when the day comes that I lose my job, that I have somewhere else to go,” that is the simplest example how futures thinking is good for your health and well-being. To be honest, anything that is prevention is futures thinking, anything you do. Movement, we know that we have to move, we know we have to sleep, we know we have to relax now and then to recuperate and regenerate, that we have a lot of minerals and vitamins, and that we get enough sunlight.
Brushing your teeth. Why do you brush your teeth? It’s not just because it gives you your fresh breath, no. Brushing your teeth is because you want to prevent your teeth from going bad in sometime in the future, you don’t know when. It’s for the future, so you are doing something already that is futures-oriented to prevent something that you anticipate if you don’t do it is going to happen. That is what I mean that the future and futurist thinking, or futures thinking, or anticipation forecasting, whatever, it has notions of health and well-being.
This is another one, big one, climate change. If we can just project 10 years, 20, 30 years from now, by the year 2050, it is predicted that some coastal areas of Mexico will be under water, Seychelles might be gone. Here you have Venice that will be more under water. Well, how is that going to make you feel? If you don’t live there, you have to move houses or stress. Everything that is around you is a big factor for your health and well-being.
If you still want to live in that coastal area, and this is predicted, if we don’t change our attitude today, this is going to happen by the year 2050. Some people will not be there anymore, but other people will, or your children will be there, or your children’s children will be there. Are you going to be a good ancestor to them and say, “From today, into my decisions, my choice, and action, I’m going to implement that we won’t get there, that we can prevent that climate rises or the temperature rises with more than one and a half degrees in the next 50 to 100 years. We can’t wait 10 or 20 years before we start.”
That is also health and well-being, no? Climate change has an immediate effect on our health and well-being. The more that I’m looking at it, the more I’m looking to these futures of forward-thinking concepts, the more that I see how this is so important for our health and well-being, but from a very close encounter as I described with the taxi driver or brushing your teeth, to a more wider global societal overview perspective. We all have an impact on that, you, me, all the people that are watching this. We are the future. The past is gone, but the future is still in the shaping. How do you want to shape it? It depends on every decision, every choice, and every action we make forward today.
Mauricio: That’s very interesting, because I think in a way, what you say is that we all are futurists most of the time without even knowing it, like it happened to you before. Just as you said, like just brushing our teeth, for instance, that’s something very common, we do it daily, and we are not realising that we are working with futures in that moment.
Tom: Yes. There is also, at the moment, for example, the practice of mindfulness, being in the present, the power of now is so popular, yes, but that doesn’t mean to forget the future, right? You can brush your teeth mindfully to be in that present moment, to really experience that. Yes, great, but why do you do it? That’s anticipatory, that’s prevention, that’s future-oriented.
We may not stick into this now, here, the present too much, and just don’t look forward, because we will run against the wall of change. Then like the taxi driver that’s just being in the present, the present, the present, hasn’t been looking forward or ahead, this is just an example. He will be faced
at one moment he could lose this job, peak anxiety moment. Breathing and brushing your teeth mindfully will not change that. You will not be able to wipe it away. It will be a problem for a long time. Mindfulness is a great approach, but don’t forget that it is only an approach, a mindset for something very specific. Don’t lose the overview.
Mauricio: Of course. I want to talk about this a little further because, well, I’m a Mexican, I live here in Latin America. I think we don’t work with anticipation and with futures. We live for the day, basically. For a lot of people, it’s like that. Sometimes because a lot of people cannot think about the future, they are trying to survive every day of their own lives. I think it’s very important to know, what’s your opinion? How do you see things from your side? When you talk about — how do we work with futures here in Latin America? What’s your concept? I would love to know your opinion about it.
Tom: I’m going to answer that, but permit me, there is something beeping in my cabinet and I’m going to switch that off first. Just a moment.
Tom: You’re really asking a cultural question. In my travels, I’ve been to Mexico, or at least when I was working on the cruise ship. I went to Acapulco, for example, and also to the more West Coast, diving, because I used to dive when I was on the cruise ship. I don’t know much about Latin America.
Mauricio: You were in some other countries, right? I think you were in Central America, in Panama, in some other countries. Right?
Tom: Let’s say that, on the cruise ship, you go about everywhere, to New Zealand, Japan, India, Singapore, Taiwan, Panama Canal, I’ve been there as well and to some beautiful islands. I’ve been around the world about three times. I haven’t visited every country, of course, but seen a lot of the world. I don’t know much about South America and Mexico and so forth, but what we think that South Americans are like is mañana. “Oh, we’ll do that tomorrow.” That’s not a futurist way of thinking.
Mauricio: Exactly. That’s what I wanted to say.
Tom: It’s not that tomorrow. It’s like they’re postponing tomorrow. “Why worry about that? Living the moment now. Live here and now. Tomorrow, it’s not important.” We’ve just seen, and I’ve just said how important tomorrow is. If you always do push away tomorrow and not think about climate change, or about losing your job to technology, well, that’s your own downfall, isn’t it? Change is changing exponentially. It’s really, really fast and getting faster and faster. You’ve been keeping up until now, but if you keep up this mañana, mañana stuff, you will be completely phased out. You will not be able maybe to get to the level that is needed to follow this fast changing world.
This is the risk. This is the challenge, I think, that I might think you have culturally, and that it is very difficult to change that, but before you change it, start to understand it. It’s like what they say with stress management, if you don’t understand what needs to happen and why, you just give exercises and then this exercise and that, but you don’t know why. It’s not going to last very long. It’s about understanding the importance of thinking about the future to your personal health and well-being, to your family, what it means for your children, for your children’s children, and to really feel it.
Get to feel the importance of futurization, of implementing futures, thinking into your present decisions and actions and not push it away until tomorrow.
Mauricio: I think this is happening even, of course, with our governments in all the region. Just going back to your book in applying it to this that we’re speaking now, it’s like we are lacking purpose as countries and as regions, as the whole Latin American region. I sometimes wonder if this is not a problem of just coming up with a purpose. What do we want for our future? I think we are not making ourselves that question. What do we want as countries, as individual countries? What do we want as a whole region? I don’t think we are doing that job. We are not thinking about our purpose, our future purpose. What do you think about that?
Tom: That could be very much so. I think very few countries probably have that question. Others are more culturally following the trends and starting to look a little bit more ahead with narratives for 2050 or 2100, so creating the narrative of possibilities, and starting to see from what can we do to prevent or to have the narrative that we want? As a government, it’s very important to start creating, indeed, these narratives. The scenarios of the preferable, the possible, the probable futures as a nation and as a continent to then apply their laws and to have done the community or the citizens to really follow you because you have a vision of something that you want to create.
It’s also important to speak to the citizens themselves, it’s like participatory leadership, because if it only is going to come from the policymakers, often, policymakers live in another dimension as you can see. They’re not always in touch with the reality. You need to see policy together with reality. You need to bring these two together, but at the end of the day, ask ourselves, [silence] “What do we want to be as ancestors for future generations?” We all are born, I believe, with a profound wish that when we leave this earth, to leave it a better place.
What does that mean to leave earth a better place? I do believe that it’s a place that is evolving, that it’s more fulfilling, sustainable, and that it is good for mankind. That we will be more and more digitised, that we can do so much. We are so ingenious. We have so much potential that there is a way to work together. There is a way that we can fulfil more of our true potential into this world, and that climate is one of the priorities because without a sustainable climate, of course, that’s a global thing, nothing is going to really be as easy or easier because we need the climate to have to create the crops. We need the climate to feel well.
When the water is up to our knees, we won’t feel very well. When it’s always too hot or too cold or we have this continuous storms, we will always be in a stress response. Climate is a very basic human need that we need to take care of. Stress is when demands outweigh your resources. Now that is as much true on an individual level, on a company level, and on a global level. When we demand too much resources from the earth, the earth gets stressed. The consequences, climate change. Consequences, more tornadoes, more of this bad weather situations, floods. The more that the radiation of the sun will affect us and it goes on and on.
At the end of the day, it’s the same thing. The earth is a body as a planet, just like our body. When you put too much demands on the earth, it will get stressed. Just like if you put too many demands on your body, on our body, we get stressed and the consequences are internal climate change. You get more sick. You get many more diseases. You get more prone for diseases or viruses for example, definitely now.
Mind your body before your body reminds you. That is as much true for yourself as for the earth. Mind earth as a body before it reminds, actually, we’re a bit late already. Even for us, we are a bit late because how many percentages of the population is stressed and rising due to the pandemic at the moment. At least we’re seeing an increase in burnout, in depression and people that needed to be taken in for mental health issues, and for back pain, neck pain. I see that in my practice going up as well. We need to really start taking more care of ourself, but not only ourself also others. Just taking care of me, me, me, it’s not going to work. We’re on this together.
Mauricio: Yes, I think it’s going from the individual to the collective and I think that’s a very important thing that you say. We’re almost finishing this talk today, and again, thank you very much. I know you’re writing a new book right now. You’re almost finishing, right? I would love that you just please tell us a little bit more about it. What’s your new book about, and why did you decide to write it?
Tom: It was always in the making because when the first drafts of my first book, Futurize Yourself: Design your Life on Purpose, when the coach, astrologer coach read it for the first time, the first draft because I was explaining her method and I was describing her in a certain way and I wanted her permission. She wrote back to me and said, “Tom, this is three books. You need to split it up.”
Already from the beginning, from the first draft, there was already three books present. I took chapter one and the first book is actually chapter one but then, making it a bit broader and deepening the story, and also putting quotes from my diaries and things like so. It was always planned to create that. Of course, what happens is that I’ve evolved. I’ve got new theories, I’ve deepened myself much more into this futurization concept.
Futurize Yourself: Tome 2, which is the second book. The content is really about evolving on purpose because people are asking, “Okay, now you designed your life on purpose? You know where you want to go to and how did you make it happen? How did you know that this was the right choice?” I had this image, I’m going to be a therapist who would develop his own approach, written a book about it and who’s asked around the world to give presentation and workshops [unintelligible 00:55:40] but that was — I was depressed.
I just put it out there and I thought that I could imagine that that could give me a preferable future and it did. I was lucky maybe but now, I think it was that if all thing on purpose is asking the right questions again on the journey to learn from your mistakes to go forward, and then to start, not only understanding. Søren Kierkegaard said something like, life must be understood backwards but lived forward. I think, yes, understood backwards and live forwards, until I started to understand it forward also. I combined understanding backward with understanding forward.
Once you reach for this, futurization, the future stays an unknown but you have scenarios and you have a way of knowing what to do when things come in front of you. You already can imagine that which decision goes or brings you to that direction. You’re starting to know a little bit more the future. It’s like a holiday. You plan a holiday, you book a holiday, you’ve got your tickets, you know where are you going. How sure are you that that holiday is going to happen? The likelihood is very high, so you know what your future’s going to be.
Your holiday might still be canceled for some reason or another but the likelihood that it is going to happen is most of the time, like 80 or 90%, if not 95. I know that that holiday is going to come. I know my future. I understand it. I’m starting to understand it forward as well.
Then, I created another concept. I like concepts. It’s The futures effect. The futures effect comes in a way from the overview effect. The overview effect is what astronauts gets when they look onto the earth and see the earth in its cosmic perspective. It changes, it’s a mind shift for them. They see this precarious earth, this ball within the universe and the blackness of the universe and they say, “Wow, I feel so connected to it and this is so precarious, there’s only this small thin layer that is protecting us from this solar radiation and so forth.” They become much more conscious when they come back, about their decisions, their choices and their actions and to making the world a better place.
Now, the futures effect is the overview effect but more from a terrestrial point of view is that when we start thinking about the future, the effect it has, that’s the benefits for our health and wellbeing, thanks to futures thinking because at the end of the day, I believe we want to create GREAT futures. GREAT is an acronym for good future, resilient future, evolving future, actionable future, and transcendent future. We transcend ourselves, and also transcendence into being a good ancestor.
My book is divided into this five chapters; good future, resilient future, evolving, actionable and transcendent future. What that means for me, what that means with my experience when I talk to my patients. Patient examples, how that influences them and what they are telling me when they’re thinking more about the future and about their health and wellbeing. It’s less of a biography as the first one. This is more of an open exploration of ideas, with samples of my past and samples of patient experiences.
Mauricio: Great. When is it going to be ready?
Tom: The first draft is halfway. I’m at about 21,000 words at the moment. Let’s hope by the end of this year, that it’s in print, or at least in the digital print.
Mauricio: Great, just let us know [crosstalk].
Tom: That it will be published because I think it will go very — if I keep on doing this, at the rate I’m doing now, I hope the first draft will be finished by the end of June.
Mauricio: Great. We hope it’s ready very soon so we can take a look at it. I think it’s going to be great as it was your first one, Futurize Yourself, I think it’s a great book, really. I have read it twice now, and I think you will be very interested on it, you won’t be able to take out the book once you start because it’s a very interesting story. Again, I think it’s very brave on you to talk about what happened to you and your personal story because I think it’s very intimate, the book itself. I really appreciate that, that you can share, and you want to share your personal story with the rest of the people.
Well, just before we finish, I want to ask you if there’s something else that you want to say, something that I didn’t ask, something you want to say to everybody here in Latin America listening to this interview. What would you like to say to them?
Tom: I really would like to say to them to become invested in the future. It’s very important that you and we all start with that today, and that we start to be mindful of our decisions, our choices, and our actions, because we can shape the future and the future of generations to come in a positive way. If we start denying, or not doing, not taking the actions or the decisions, I do believe that the future will not be so bright as we hope it to be. Today, we have everything in our power to make a great future from happening, but it will depend not only on governments, companies, but it will very much depend on the larger population, on people like you and me.
I always think my journey’s been very interesting. I’m not an educated person, I’m born in a very normal family, and I’m able to make a difference. I believe we all can make a difference from the place where we are, but it needs to start somewhere with a vision of how do we want to feel for example. How do we want to evolve? Where do we want to evolve into? Then doing it on purpose because it’s not going to happen by itself.
Tom: If people want to know more about me, futurizeyourself.com is the website, but find me on LinkedIn, that’s probably the best place where you can also ask me questions. Just go to my profile or your profile, we are linked so you can find me easily on the LinkedIn profile.
Mauricio: I will put your LinkedIn profile here so people can see it and they can contact you. Thank you very much for saying that. Thank you very much,Tom, for this interview. Again, this was the first one that we are doing and you were a big one to start this. I think it’s very important that we can be a bridge here at Universidad del Futuro, a bridge of knowledge, knowledge that is being done everywhere in the world.
Mauricio: What you say that your book, all that you have done is very important for people this side of the world to know about that. I think this is a good way to start. I really appreciate the fact that you gave us your time, thank you very much, Tom. I know and I’m sure this is not going to be the last one. We will have a new one very soon. I hope when you have your new book ready, that you can talk to us again, and thank you very much. Thank you very much to everyone, and we’ll see you very soon.
Tom: Thank you very much, Mauricio, for inviting me, it’s been a pleasure.
Mauricio: Thank you, Tom. See you soon. Bye, bye.