Philosophy of the Future – what’s yours right now?

One of the most interesting projects I worked on when I started with my current emplyer in 2000 was an internal project to help bring to life the “school leaver”.  It was in December so we did a series of one on ones in Sydney and Melbourne with 16 to 18 year olds who had just left school.  One of our objectives was to understand, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where they all sat on the “pyramid”, and what sort of qualities they demonstrated that placed them there. 

We researched some of the techniques that Maslow used to determine this, and we came across his “Philosophy of the future” – simply ask people what their ideal life would be about in five years. Where they want to be will tell you where they are today.   We had a range of responses to this question across our 20 school leavers  – all very illuminating. The most heartbreaking was a young girl who was virtually homeless.  Her ideal future was to have somewhere permanent to live with her young daughter, and maybe have a friendship with her mother again.  The most inspiring was a 17 year old guy who “wanted to be making a difference.”  The dismaying was “I wanna be partying!”.

I began thinking of this again reading Seth Godin’s new Book Tribes in the train this morning. He says…

“Consumers have decided…to spend time and money on fashion, on stories, on things that matter, and they things they believe in.”  (page 10)

And I thought, that was me three months ago, but not now.  I’m not sure I want to spend any money (and even time)  on some of that at the moment.  It feels too frivolous,  things seem to unsettled, too uncertain.  And I feel like I have been wavering on my own philosophy of the future over that period as well.  So before I would have said my ideal life would be about travel, kids, being happy and content, working on interesting stuff that matters, exploring and learning; now I have noticed I am falling into an internal dialogue of “Shit, I hope I have a [insert latest insecurity] job/roof over my head / food in the fridge etc next year.” 

So I wonder if you can humour me and tell me what’s going on for you right now? Has your “philosophy” changed over the past few months? Is it like mine and changes a few times every day?  Or are you unwaveringly (and envioulsy) positive about what’s instore for you?



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4 responses to “Philosophy of the Future – what’s yours right now?

  1. An excellent and thought provoking post, Kelly.

    Speaking personally, I guess I have vague aspirations but have learned not to really think of the ‘future’ in any concrete way, as it invariably doesn’t turn out as you’d planned or imagined.

    Five years before starting my own business, I’d not have believed I’d be doing it.

    And yes, a year ago, I didn’t imagine we’d be in quite the economic stew we’d be in now….which is why I try and ignore the financial news altogether these days. But that’s of course a different topic altogether!

  2. Very interesting Kel. I hadn’t considered the extent of it, but my emphasis has shifted dramatically over the last 6-12 months.

    When I was starting my career all I wanted was a laptop and a suitcase – working in different places with different people. These days I yearn for my own piece of ground to I can plant things in. In a recent performance review my answer to what I wanted in the next two years was ‘A Dog’. Also, spending an unexpected bonus on a food processor instead of something more frivolous further illustrates this point…

    Like you, my outlook changes several times a day. I often have those ‘when I grow up I want to be…’ moments – sometimes it takes an unexpectedly long time for me to wake up and realise that I’d make a shitty [insert random job]er and I should continue to hone my current skills. Then again, maybe I would make a good chocolatier…

  3. Yes, lots of scary stuff in the news, both short term (financial markets) and long-term (planet burning up). I think the trick is to find the opportunity in the turmoil. Advertising, in good times, can be about clever branding and positioning and creative — but now it’s about results. I think as many people in the business world tighten their belts, there is a good chance for agencies to approach them with new solutions in new ways.

    I’d tell you how, but it’s top secret.

  4. Beck

    Having just read a review of the latest climate change books in The Monthly (October 2008) I am thinking about buying land in an area where in 2050 rainfall will still allow the growing of food. I am thinking of taking my kids to the Great Barrier Reef before it is dead. Teaching them how to grow vegetables (if only I could myself). Seriously. I feel a bit like Sarah Connor when I think my kids will be my age as all this stuff happens and happens fast.

    We forget that the world has been turned upside down on numerous occasions in recent history and people’s lives totally changed- WWI being a good example. The film of Ian McEwan’s Atonement depicted this well, when even the very rich were not immune. I think we are heading for another moment in history but with globalisation making it all the more well…global.

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