The job of a futurist is to explore multiple alternative, contesting futures – different ways in which the world might evolve – and help individuals or organisations create better futures. I noticed from my work with clients that the pandemic made conversations about futures, and especially about personal futures, difficult. For some, it almost feels like “What’s the point? I cannot control anything at the moment anyways! I am in survival mode right now.”
Fair enough. When our zone of influence shrank to choices like “Shall I cook a healthy meal or snack my stress away?” or “Shall I work from the bedroom or the kitchen today?”, thinking about anything longer-term might feel even harder than it usually is. To be able to imagine better futures, we need to be in the right state of mind. To be able to work towards this better future, we need agency. To understand that we need to change, we need to accept the current reality. That’s when the 3 Horizons Framework that futurists use to manage uncertainty is a useful approach to cope with the current situation. I described how to apply the framework to COVID-19 in the previous post; today, I am focusing on Horizon 1.
By applying the framework to the pandemic, we will have to accept that Horizon 1 – our “immediate” future, the continuation of the present (=lockdown or nearly lockdown) – will still go for a while. It is not a prediction. It is one of alternative futures (an unwanted future in this case) that we need to consider among other scenarios. When we accept that such a future is plausible, and given that this situation is new to us, it becomes clear that our priorities need to lie with building resilience and agency to make the best of the situation for as long as required. While we already start seeing weak signals of other futures (Horizon 3), resilience is a critical foundation for moving forward. And helping people build resilience is as much a job of a futurist, as is it to help people imagine different futures. So how can we boost our resilience? Keep reading