What Type of Future do You Want to Live In?

In a recent course at Parsons School of Design, my professor challenged our cohort to envision a future we would want to live in. So often our visions of the future are shaped by entertainment and the media, far off sci-fi scenarios that don’t at all conjure up feelings of home. But on this day, we were free to imagine a future we would actually enjoy, one designed to meet our needs, expectations, and dreams. That’s the amazing thing about futures thinking, it’s an empowering methodology that encourages you reflect on the major changes that you think will occur in the near, but distant future.

The challenge got me thinking, how does one even begin to answer the question, “what type of future do you want to live in?” Should your answer relate to your work life? Should it instead address the plethora of social and humanitarian issues facing communities and countries today? Is it selfish to envision your personal future, without taking others into account? Just like that, the power of futures thinking had me feeling pretty overwhelmed.

You see, the world around me often feels like it could use some extra help. I am lawyer who works in an industry that is facing immense change. Should I focus on a better future for the legal industry? I am a citizen of Chicago, Illinois, a city facing a number of challenges. Should I focus on a better future of Chicago? I am a woman. Should I focus on a better and more fair future for women worldwide? Then it hit me. I was feeling overwhelmed because I did not want to envision a future that only focused on one of these aspects of my life, which got me thinking about core values.

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. Our core values are our guide, they shape our actions and help us determine right from wrong. If my future is aligned with my core values, maybe these crazy issues around me might be easier to solve. We might be able to make laws that are broad enough to promote equality over persecution, strong enough to protect rather than limit. We might be able to take guns out of the hands of children and empower them to lead in their communities. We might be able to empower women to find their equal seat at the table.

What type of future do I want to live in? I want to live in a future that is strongly rooted in values that will promote positive outcomes. Now, more than ever, strong core values are the foundation we need, globally, to design a better future.

My future is honest. Telling the truth matters. Standing up for what is right, and pointing out what is wrong, is admired.
My future is creative. Thinking outside the box is valued. Coloring outside the lines is encouraged.
My future is empathetic. Caring is important. Period. Understanding another person’s point of view, whether or not you agree with is, is vital to existence.
My future is passionate. Energy is contagious. Be a powerful and inspiring force.
My future is persistent. Continue doing difficult things that aren’t always understood. Having to try again is OK.

Through honesty, creativity, empathy, passion, and persistence we can create a vibrant future where ideas can grow, people can thrive and success can flourish. So friends, all of this reflection begs the question, what type of future to do want to live in?