Working With Your Future
By actively working to organise your future, rather than just letting it happen to you, you often find that you create a much healthier connection across the boundary where you experience tension between what you expect should happen, and what actually does happen. Instead of trying to completely control the future or feeling surprised or disappointed by what emerges in the future, you begin to realise how much of the future already exists in your inner world, and how you can make your chosen future happen by creating a healthy and free-flowing connection between your inner and outer worlds. As you become more aware of how you are connecting to your future, you give yourself a greater understanding of your potential to shape it and how you can recognise valuable potential opportunities that you may otherwise have missed.
Why Idealised Futures Don’t Work
In most organisations, the conventional way to work with the future is to describe it in the form of a plan, or a series of plans, where the outcome is an idealised view of the future company. Most organisations locate their value in the future and they tend to be valued by others based on future expectations, rather on the strength of the connection between their imagined futures and actual outcomes. This focus on the future often emphasises an idealised workplace that should exist in the future, rather than working with the organisation that is actually emerging, existing and evolving in reality.By emphasising an idealised future, an organisation often becomes disconnected from current reality and loses the opportunity to healthily connect with its envisioned future, usually based on the outcomes of previous experiences rather than connecting them to possible future opportunities.
Initiating Your Future
The first step in initiating your future is by creating a series of small experiments that enable you to step into the future, so that you can test out how well what you have been imagining actually works in reality. Rather than investing all your efforts in a single major initiative that may or may not work, even though your inner world imaginings are certain that it will succeed, you can create a far healthier feedforward and feedback gyre by continually prototyping what you have been creating and seeing how closely the outcomes reflect your intentions. Creating the future is an iterative process, where you push out different futures from your inner world into your outer world, and then focus your efforts on the ones that provide you with the future that you need, and learn from those that push back and give an unwanted future.
Maintaining Your Future
By using an iterative process to make progress towards your imagined future, you constantly maintain your course by rapidly correcting the differences between intention and outcome. Becoming fixated on an idealised future by not adjusting your course can mean that you can drift away from where you are heading to and can end up in a destination that doesn’t resemble the future that you initially envisaged. As you continually review your progress, what appears like a straight and obvious line in retrospect, is very often a series of small turns as you adjust your course but maintain your heading. If you are constantly feeding your future back into your understanding without continually pushing it back out in a healthy feedforward-feedback loop, it can be easy to become stuck in an idealised future that is not really working for you.
Adapting Your Future
One of the biggest challenges in working with idealised futures is that those futures can seem so real in the inner worlds of the individuals who are imagining them. It can sometimes feel easier and seem more satisfying to stay in those idealised worlds by just disconnecting from the real world as much as possible. The more that you disconnect your inner future from your outer future, however, the more it becomes an idealised theory rather than a fulfilling reality. Creating your future is not a mechanistic step-by-step procedure where everything will undoubtedly go to plan, it is actually an iterative and evolutionary process, where you are continually adapting your perspectives and beliefs, using your inner world to understand your outer world and your outer world to explain your inner world.
Embracing Your Future
As well as being a successful outcome filled with potential opportunity and promise, the future can also appear to be scary and threatening, and that is often why people prefer to work with known futures that minimise threat, but which also reduce opportunity. By using an iterative process where you continually make small steps into the future, you usually reduce the level of risk that you are exposed to and when you engage with any potential threats, you can discover more about them and potentially use them to your advantage. Rather than feeling that you are stuck in the present, with no real influence on the approaching future and feeling that you cannot commit to taking a big step, making a series of small iterative steps enables you to explore your future and means that you are continually progressing in working with your future, and will reach your intended future much more quickly.
Turning Your Future Around
it can often seem a challenge to work with the future and to make it appear in the way that you would like it to. It can be easy to think of the future as a series of events that have no direct connection to what is happening for you right now but the future is not an event, it is a flow of what you are imagining in your inner world across the boundary into your outer world where you can create it in reality. By constantly feeding forward the imagined futures of your inner world and feeding them back to see how your vision of the future is actually emerging in reality, you can begin to turn your future around. Anything is possible in your imagined inner world and this can become a reality in your outer world if you initiate some small steps into your future, maintain your progress through feeding forward and feeding back, always evolving and adapting your process to arrive at your chosen future.