Humans are generally quite bad at predicting and visualising the future, particularly over longer periods. We lack the ability to imagine the vast changes both on a personal and global level.

What we usually do is see the future as a slight variation of the present , with minor improvements. It’s a type of heuristic or bias where we use today’s state as our basis of prediction instead of building up the future from first principles.

This came up in a discussion with a close friend yesterday. We were talking about how she doesn’t ever think she’ll achieve certain goals of hers. That they’re too far out of her reach. And at the same time, she was worried that she hadn’t achieved enough to date.

Into the past

A tool that I like to use to overcome this feeling is to pretend to have a discussion with myself from 5 years ago. I try imagine what he’d feel if I told him what I was doing today. And I realise that, in this case, 2012 Rowan would be blown away by 2017 Rowan. The stuff that I am doing now would be entirely inconceivable to him then, and he would not understand how it happened.

In fact, I recently read a blog post from 2012 Rowan that outlined some things that he would like to achieve in 10 years time. And I’ve already achieved almost all of them.

Back to the future

Using this same logic, I imagine myself from 5 years time coming back and telling me all the stuff that he is doing in 2022. I imagine having my mind completely blown, in the same way 2012 me would have his mind blown by 2017 me.

This is quite reassuring in a way. Because I don’t know what 2022 me will be doing. But I know that it’ll probably be something completely out of my realm of possibility today.

Not linear but not the point

This tool uses a linear approach to prediction, meaning that my expected growth is estimated to be the same as my past growth. Of course, it may not be linear and could be tapering off or even become exponential.

The point of the exercise isn’t the predicting. The idea is to find comfort in understanding that we cannot know the future. However, what I do know is that it will almost certainly be different to what I can imagine. And I know for sure that current me will definitely be proud of what I’ve achieved going into 2023.

Image was taken almost exactly five years ago. If you look carefully, you can see my little brother lying face down in the middle of the field. I think he was running across the field and then just got over it and dropped down in a pile.


Blog 43/365. Read more about my #365of25 journey here


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