When I wrote about being futureproof, I suggested an approach to do little things daily that fortified you against future, and fear of the future. These are things I do, or try to do, and I see the difference they make. But what about the changes that are hard to predict because they begin so high above us. What about the problems being built today by other people that we’ll face in the future?

The Self-helper and the Conspiracy Theorist

A self-help acolyte and a conspiracy theorist were sitting having coffee. (No it’s not a joke despite its promising beginning, heh.) They were catching up because they were friends at school.

Self-Helper: You know I’m really hopeful about the next few years. There are so many opportuinities in this country…

Conspiracy Theorist: What? Not me. Do you know what the Trilateral Commission are planning for the 3rd world in the next 2 years?

SH: Nah, I don’t follow that stuff. You know, as long as you think people outside yourself are shaping your life, you give them the power. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. What happens to us from now depends on us not Freemasons, satanists, or “the 5 White Men in Brussels”.

CT: Really? *smiles* Does the fact we’re getting more and more forgetful—in little things, and who knows what else?—does that depend on us? Can we take responsibility for that?

SH: I’m not more forgetful late… wait, actually I have been getting more forgetful lately. But…*frowns*

CT: *nodding* even forgetting words you’ve always known in the middle of a sentence? Yes. You think that’s normal but it’s not. And it’s not aging either. It’s the chemtrails—the chemicals they’re spraying by plane in the skies all the time in every country in the world. They…

SH: Wait, wait. You can’t be telling me that they’re spraying us with chemicals to make us forgetful. That’s just paranoid rubbish. Wait, here me out. These kinds of stories go round because the average person would rather blame someone for her problems than do something to change things. Blame is easier. People are lazy. The problems are never because of others. They’re because of the person with the problems.

CT: Really. Tell that to children living through sex abuse from the authorities in their lives. How do they take responsibility?

SH: *shaking head, looking down* Those stories are fabricated. To keep us looking for the bogey man. People make those up and spread them so they don’t have to change. Because change is hard. They’d rather have these fairy tales. They’re all fiction…

CT: And who benefits most when you think every distressing story is a fiction made to keep you from “taking responsibility for your own life”? The perpetrators, that’s who. The criminals behind the greatest injustices of the 21st century.

When the changes come—Future Thinking

I don’t know who of the 2 friends you side with, but I do know that changes will come. Changes always come. And of course, it takes more than doing a few daily exercises to be prepared when they do come.

When changes come, you need to have a defense, an alternative. Here’s an example

My escape from the slowdown of 2011

In 2011 I was running a business offering budget products—you know, for the lower rung of the market. It was a volume business, inexpensive product, few options, extra features at extra charge, just like any budget business. Then the Central Bank announced an interest rate hike, effectively, of almost 10%.

In non-finance terms, that meant borrowed money just got a lot more expensive. In developing economies, bank borrowing is done by the middle and upper classes. (The lower classes depend on Shylocks.) When they need to pay more interest to borrow money, the middle class reduce unnecessary spending, which throttles the informal sector (read: the lower and under classes). This is not politics, this is economics. My target market for my products was circling the bowl about to be flushed.

(Aside. Mel Brooks had a great comedy, a parody of Star Wars called Space Balls. where President Skroob has a slogan, “Skroob the People”. In that vein, my target market was skroob-ed.)

Turns out I have a degree in economics that might be part of why I foresaw the hit on my market in October 2011. I diversified into the upper mid-market with a product adapted to fit—more options, more customization, higher price. The diversification worked and my income shifted dramatically in 2012 to this mid-market offering. The budget product lost about 50% of its customer base that year. But I made more money in ’13 and ’12 than I did in ’11.

Because I’m clever? No. Because I was lucky enough to foresee a coming change that would affect me.

Foresight, Future Thinking, Futures Studies and Scenarios

There’s a discipline that’s quite popular with large organizations and some governments, law enforcement, etc called variously, Futures Studies, Scenario Planning and Foresight. They use it to flesh out possible futures based on current trends. It’s a whole discipline now with institutes and advanced degrees and such, so it’s predictably complex.

Here’s a slideshare that sheds some light on the Scenario Planning process >

In the early 2000s I was part of a Futures Scenario Planning project by young people. It didn’t predict what actually happened in Kenya so maybe it’s a rubbish process. All we know is that we’re always trying to tame the uncertainty. It’s very hard to be objective about whether good or bad—or both—is coming, isn’t it?

Future-proof your life by following your inner flight path

Sting sang a song, Let your soul be your pilot which is admittedly a cheesy song. Except to those who like it of course. One line in the song is “no more useless information”. Many things could be said about that. But I think if you’re looking for guidance in troubled times, the real direction you’re looking for is always inside

DNA/inner instructions/your inner flight path

What excites you? What takes you away for a few minutes or hours and you come back to your senses feeling refreshed? What maybe challenges you, but you like it and it makes you grow? What ignites you and enthuses you?
Whatever things you answer to the questions above, try to build your future on those things.

Because those are the things that mean something.

Bom dia e boa sorte