#4 The (many) ways future-thinking can boost your career

Hello!

THE (MANY) WAYS FUTURE-THINKING CAN BOOST YOUR CAREER

Welcome to The Makers.

Today I’m going to share with you three things:

  1. Thinking about the future isn’t an abstract skillset: it could be critical to your career.
  2. 3 ways to transform how you engage with the future.
  3. A great source for long-term thinking tools.

1. Future-thinking career boost 😊

New research reveals the skills people need in the future workplace – a surprising number of which are linked to future-thinking.

If you think that ‘thinking about the future’ sounds or feels a little abstract, think again.

McKinsey, the global consulting firm recently published a list of the skills citizens are going to need in the future of work. 

The research identified “a set of 56 foundational skills that will benefit all citizens and showed that higher proficiency in them is already associated with a higher likelihood of employment, higher incomes, and job satisfaction”.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: 56 foundational skills doesn’t sound much like a short-list. Fair point. 

But what struck me was how many of these ‘foundational skills’ related either directly or very closely to skills acquired via thinking about the future.

Some skills have a fairly intuitive link, such as planning, adaptability or crafting an inspiring vision. Other skills are perhaps less obviously connected, such as empathy (see an earlier edition of The Makers in which I talk a little about connecting to your future-self and the role of empathy) or ‘asking the right questions’. But, I’ll return to these in later editions to explore their link in greater detail. 

Top 3 skills

McKinsey’s research then goes further. It identitifies which top three skills people need proficiency in so as to improve their chances of: 

  1. finding employment
  2. attracting a high wage, or 
  3. enjoying job satisfaction 

And out of these nine top skills, five, I believe, relate to future-thinking.

For finding employment, proficiency in ‘coping with uncertainty’ or ‘adaptability’ (ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively) suggest ‘better outcomes’.

For earning a high income, ‘work-plan development’ ranked 2nd after ‘self-confidence’ (1st). And for job satisfaction, ‘coping with uncertainty’ makes another appearance (2nd), followed by ‘self-motivation and wellness’ (3rd).

If we take ‘motivation’ for instance, how often have you found your levels of motivation to be higher when you have a clearer mental picture of what you’re seeking to achieve? Especially when paired with some realism about how you’ll tackle likely obstacles? (Research suggests that motivation is actually quite complex, demanding a more considered balance between being optimistic on the one hand about future outcomes and being realistic on the other about the barriers you’ll need to overcome in order to be successful. A summary can be found here.)

TL;DR

So, is ‘future-thinking’ the abstract preserve of day-dreamers, academics and futurists? Or is it an aptitude of critical importance to you in your career today and tomorrow? 

2. This week’s introduction 🤝 

This section introduces an idea, concept or actionable tool to help you to engage with the future a little more positively and purposefully.

In this week’s Long Term Short, I share three quick ways to transform your future thinking

Take a look and see what you think.

3. Future jam today 😋 

Books, articles and resources broadly on the subject of time and how we think about it…

This week’s recommendation is London-based The Long Time Project

The Long Time Project seeks out new ways to “help us care about the long-term future, so that we take responsibility for it in the short-term.” The project works with a wide range of people across the disciplines of art, culture and science. 

Check out their tools – including their guide for public policy-makerswhich includes some great practical exercises to help you and your teams think long-term. They have also paired up with the RSA to produce the Long Time Sessions – a series of interviews with long-term thinkers which are worth a watch.

Thanks 🙏 

Thanks for reading, watching, subscribing and being a Maker! I really appreciate it.

If you’ve enjoyed this edition of The Makers, you’d be doing me a kind and generous favour by sharing it with someone who might enjoy it also. If you’ve not already subscribed and would like to, you can do so here. I’ll also send you a (free) copy of my short ebook the 7 Fundamentals of a Future-Fit Person.

Until next time…

Best wishes,

James

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