Visionaries. Big picture thinkers. Dreamers.
People who are always leaning into the future, always scanning for possibilities; making meaningful connections from their perpetual big picture vantage point; straining with hope for an ideal future.
If futurism is not your natural bent, you either wish you were like the amazing visionaries who seem to see the things that are invisible to others – or you want to avoid them and pretend they don’t exist. Big picture thinkers may seem scary to the structured, details orientated person. (I freak my husband out a lot).
Truth be told, we freak ourselves out too. Often. If you’re a fellow big picture thinker, then you know all too well the deep-down-in-your-belly restlessness that weaves its way into the lattice of everyday normality.
I found this great outline of what ‘professional’ futurists do: http://profuturists.org/futurists. While those who study present-day trends to predict possible implications have found a way to get paid for their unique insights, I want to dedicate this post to many “everyday” futurists that are undercover.
These are people who think intuitively, who seem calm on the outside while there is a rich inner life teeming just beneath the surface.
The woman who feels like she “knows” her unborn child (even though she’s not pregnant yet); the misunderstood entrepreneur who feels the frustration of caving into the pressure to “get a job” when he knows that his business idea will one day help to create jobs; the employee who can see exactly how to improve systems and processes that will boost productivity – but has to keep quiet because experience has proven that no one wants to hear what he has to say.
The thing I most struggle with is living in the moment. The vision I see of the future is so real to me – that it feels more real that the present I live in. Can you identify?
People who have a big picture mindset are usually future orientated. As a result, there is a pervading frustration with the present. Big picture thinkers are often idealists. We see things the way they should be, so we struggle to accept things as they are. We often hate the messy construction of the new reality we want to build (who needs the details and the mind-numbing admin, anyway?).
Apart from hiding out in a cave (I’ve thought about it – but then decided against it because I don’t fancy the idea of sharing share my life with spiders), what is helping me to smooth out the frustration is to imagine each day as a brick in the building of the future.
I am trying to bring some of that idealism into the present – to do the difficult things today that will enable the better tomorrow that I see. Here’s my top five ways to find peace in the midst of an imperfect present:
1. Catch the magic: Of course I keep a journal, so I record in full colour the moment/s in the day where I felt most alive. Some days, it’s paying attention when my husband is putting on one of his funny accents and leaning into the full-bellied laughter. Other days, it’s feeling the sense of achievement when I’ve poured all my energies into a document that is going to improve the flow of work in my office – for the long-term.
2. Build tomorrow from the blueprints of today: You already have a keen sense of what should be done to improve things – so start doing them. What can help you to maintain a level of peace is to take accountability to change things today that will create the improved future you see so clearly in your mind. In fact, you are in a prime position to shift things into a bold new direction.
3. Don’t be ashamed of your uniqueness: If you love walking outside in the rain, while others are scampering under shelters or hiding under umbrellas, so what? One of my happiest memories is when I invited my usually-stick-in-the-mud friend to dance in the rain with me in a mall parking lot. People will look at you strangely when you are carefree – but I suspect it’s because they’re jealous of your bravery to just be your unbidden self! The joy of being fully you fills you with incredible life energy to do the things only you can do.
4. Let failure shape you: Futurists know failure – but you can find a way to not let it define you. It is discouraging and heart-rendering… but at least you are trying something. Reflecting on all the valuable learning your failures have delivered to you should propel you to try again – albeit this time a little wiser. In fact, reflecting on how far you’ve come – and how much you’ve grown – can provide impetus for taking action today.
5. Harness your creative power: World changers are people of influence. They are people who have come alive to their own power to create, to inhabit, to shape the world around them. We need a solid balance of big picture and detail focused people to create a continuum of positive change. Bringing your power into today will create deep and meaningful change that will have far reaching effects into the future.
You, my fellow futurist, have a unique colour to paint the world. Dip your brush into your palette of potential and brandish your strokes of genius unashamedly.
We await your contribution with bated breath.