Looking To The Future


As your vision begins to take shape in your mind, it’s tempting to rush to the next stage and begin planning how you will make it happen. 

I would urge caution. A few extra days of research, discussion and reflection are negligible in the context of your entire life. So before we get to the my suggested planning approach, the next few topics will help you to step back and consider the bigger picture, beginning with an overview of how the world may be different in the near future.

The Future Will Be Different

The Futurist magazine produces an annual Outlook report covering developments in business and economics, demography, energy, the environment, health and medicine, resources, society and values, and technology. Here are some of their recent forecasts:

  • buying and owning things will go out of style – pay-per-use and subscriptions, shared facilities, rented homes will become more common
  • nanotechnology will revolutionise manufacturing increasing energy efficiency and productivity
  • aquaponic recycling systems will appear in every kitchen
  • jobs as we know them will disappear, with individuals providing specific services to a range of ‘shell’ organisations
  • the ‘cloud’ will become more proactive and contextual, not simply a data store
  • robots will become caregivers
  • handheld breathalysers will offer early detection of infectious airborne microbes
  • drug-delivering nanorobots built from DNA will be used to detect and attack cancer
  • learning will become more social and game-based
  • the US rich-poor gap will lead to economic stagnation within ten years

While scanning these global trends also keep an eye on what’s happening closer to home. What plans exist for your region, city or town? What businesses are opening and closing? What grants are available? What events are happening? How do people spend their time?


Traditional media like newspapers, television and radio can be a rich source of information, and you can subscribe to magazines in areas of interest. Online, there are blogs, forums and many useful websites provided by commercial organisations, universities, professional associations and governments. Google is your friend (and is itself another example of an immense change that has happened relatively recently. How did we find things out before Google?) To bring some order to your research you may find these three services useful: 

  • Feedly is a ‘single place to collect and read what matters to you’ and will present you with fresh information each day from your chosen sites
  • Google Alerts is a service that e-mails you updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news) based on your search queries
  • to keep track of useful information I recommend Evernote, which is available across all platforms. It integrates very well with Feedly, and the Evernote Web Clipper allows you to capture information from any web page.

I would also recommend that you talk with other people either in online forums (for example LinkedIn or Facebook groups) or face-to-face. The opinions of others can help you to see things in new ways and thoughts are often improved by having to explain them to someone else. At this stage, it is all about gaining new perspectives and even foolish questions can provoke new insights. Be careful not to jump to the defence of your ideas too quickly; keep an open mind and welcome the input of those playing Devil’s Advocate; they may be doing you the greatest service of all in pushing you to confront wrinkles in your vision.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
― Abraham Lincoln