Does the quality of your future depend on how long you spend thinking about it?

Businesses that commit to the futures process tend to hit the stretch targets that they set for themselves.

As a qualified futurist I spend a lot of time with businesses making sense of what the future might hold and helping them think very deeply about their own futures ('futures' is plural because there is always more than one future available to you) based on that analysis.

Needless to say - we spend a lot of time thinking about 'the time yet to come'.

This is obviously a very useful thing to do with a trained futures practitioner, because the future is the only place and space in time that you possibly have an influence over; and if you play your cards right now, is a powerful asset available to you to leverage.

What I as a facilitator in this field have discovered over the past couple of years, is that businesses (both big and small) that completely commit to the futures process and take their thinking about the future seriously. more often than not tend to hit the crazy yet informed stretch targets that they set for themselves in the sessions that we conduct.

In an article published by Scientific America, which covers some fascinating research on how human beings make sense of time, the researchers tasked themselves to understand how different cultures around the world internalised their own perceptions of time.

Time is obviously an abstract concept, but throughout the world people understand the movement of time (from the past, into the present and into the future) through metaphor.

Most Westerners will perceive of the past as being located behind them and the future in front of them. The future in therefore for most of us - something to look forward to.


'Speakers of Aymara, a language of the Andes, conceive of the past as being in front of them and the future as behind them. The pattern can be seen in everyday language. Nayra pacha means “old times,” where nayra is the word for “eye” or “front,” and pacha roughly means “time” or “epoch.” Qhipa marana means “next year,” where qhipa is the word for “behind,” and mara is “year.” This conception, however, is not just a matter of words. It is also observable in the spontaneous gestures Aymara speakers produce while talking, often pointing backward when referring to future times and forward when discussing the past. What motivates this “reversed” pattern?

For the Aymara, knowledge acquired through visual perception is taken to be certain and reliable. It is of utmost importance to communicate facts and stories by grammatically marking whether what is being said has been seen directly or learned from another source. Aymara people spend much more time talking about past events than about future times. After all, they can tell whether last year was dry or wet—they were there and saw it with their eyes—and can discuss that with clarity and conviction. But how next year is going to be is anybody's guess—nobody has seen it, and so it is just a matter of futile speculation. The known past is therefore conceived as being visually in front of them and the unknown future out of view behind them.'

Needless to say, through this example - if by your orientation towards time (or thanks to other factors) you believe that the future is something that you cannot influence and it is pointless in even imagining a time yet to come, which will be different from the past or present - you have then no cognitive ability to design 'the tomorrows' that you want. You literally wilfully surrender your power to create a better future.

You consider the future to be largely handed to you by fate and just like the Aymara people, you spend most of your time focusing on the past rather than the future, which is where your reality will always be located.

Does this in anyway sound familiar?

How much quality time do you spend thinking about the future? Shouldn't you perhaps do much more of it, considering that this is where you are going to spend the rest of your life?

If you need an expert to help you do it more effectively then give me a shout.