Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Envisioning Your Future

I don't think that most of us have a very good relationship with our future. We might have a vague sense of the stuff we want, or things we'd like to accomplish, or relationships we hope to develop, but very few people can actually articulate what they think their life will look like five or more years down the road.

I'm all about living in the moment and going with the flow, but I'm starting to figure out that if I want something to happen, I need to articulate it and then start working toward it. This isn't that hard when you're planning to buy a new bike -- you start saving cash, do the research, and eventually make the purchase, but what about more holistic planning for your whole life? Why not create a view of how your work, learning and the rest of your lifestyle fit together?

These are obviously leading questions, right? I've been working on a tool for an online career development application that helps people create a view of their future lifestyle. It's called the Career Plan Builder -- I take the blame for the boring name. Here's an example a future lifestyle I wish I would have pursued...and probably still could:

These are obviously focused on the aspirations of high school students, but I'm seeing potential in this simple way of representing anyone's future goals. One thing I like about it is that it expands the idea of lifestyle to include all kinds of things that may be important to you.

More speculation on these possibilities in my instructional design and technology blog...


tfoxfan said...

I do have an observation about some content in lifestylism. Considering the context of Bridges "Career Plan Builder" is life-after-high-school, why are the subjects Travel, Relationships, and Spirituality not present within the three categories? I can say that these are the top three things that I thought about (with the exception of Career) during and after high school. I think that Travel is different than Leisure. Relationships is different than Family and equally as important. Spirituality is common, no matter what background one is coming from. Even Douglas Coupland is obsessed with the subject though he openly admits he was raised with no spiritual compass at all. Thoughts?

Jeremy said...

"...why are the subjects travel, relationships, and spirituality not present within the three categories?"

Great question, Esther. If a person really wanted to feel ownership over their plan, it should reflect what they value. There are definitely people who will use your three additions as primary drivers for their decision-making, or at least important secondary considerations. So they should be in there.

This is the first try at including any lifestyle goals in career plans. I view it as a starting point, both for the tool itself and for people starting career planning -- something to get people talking about their futures, thinking about what is actually important (moving beyond salary as the sole criteria), sharing these ideas with others, and helping people try on a bunch of different futures for size...keeping what feels right and discarding (or deferring) what doesn't quite fit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Esther that spirituality and relationships rank at the top of envisioning the future. We are what we believe, and we are first and foremost people who for better or worst must interact with others to ever accomplish our dreams and goals.

Jeremy said...

Definitely. The fact that many people ignore (or de-emphasize) those kinds of factors when they're making career decisions is part of this whole lifestylism concept -- the idea that our actual values should be reflected in our decisions and the way we envision our futures.