Imagine the Best for Themselves Despite the Bitterness of Life Plan

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Using the attached description of Dator’s Four Futures (can also be found online here), create your own Four Futures. Using Dator’s Four Futures framework, answer the four questions that follow in detail. Think about how each of these futures may occur in your own life, and what events or actions may lead to each. Carefully explore the circumstances and decision points that may lead to each potential personal future.

Please write 150 words minimum for each person future. This exercise is meant to be a useful application of futures thinking to your own life, so feel free to write as much as you like. 

I. Growth Future: Using Dator’s Four Futures Framework, think about your personal Growth future. Imagine that the path you’re on now continues upward. This scenario involves climbing the ladder that’s currently ahead of you. What are the key landmarks along that journey? What decisions do you need to keep moving forward in your life in order to be successful in your current trajectory? This may involve doing well in your university courses or choosing the right internship and other experiences to help you progress on your current path. 

II. Collapse Future: Think about your personal Collapse future. Obviously, this is the scenario you want to avoid. What are the things that may lead to this negative outcome? What kinds of obstacles do you need to avoid? This may mean avoiding giving into certain personal negative habits or emotions, or it may require developing better habits or stronger willpower if you feel you are currently moving in this direction. What does sudden collapse in your current trajectory look like? What are the forces – both inside you and in the world around you – that could cause that collapse? Are macro forces (such as new economic realities or technological changes) potential dangers? Are you doing something that is unsustainable longterm? Are you carrying destructive emotions that will eventually catch up with you? It is difficult to spend time thinking about potential personal failure. But by creating a realistic Collapse scenario, you identify the things you want to avoid, and can better aim toward a desirable future. 

III. Discipline Future: For your Discipline future, think about what might moderate or contain the forces that led to your Collapse outcome. This future may involve scaling back on your Growth future in order to live a simpler, more fulfilling life. If you’re a finance major, you may realize that becoming the president of a major bank has a lot of drawbacks for you personally. You may find that you would rather devote more time to building a family or other goals along your current trajectory. What new habits, ways of being or ways of dealing with relationships could help with this? 

IV: Transformation Future: Transformation is the hardest future to envision, particularly because we don’t yet fully know all of who we could become if we change our current trajectory. But the core of this future lingers inside of you, and reflecting on this may help you realize potential, alternative paths that branch off from your current journey. This scenario may involve a radical shift in lifestyle. For those who are deeply religious, it could involve a spiritual journey and devotion of life to exploring metaphysical questions. For others, it may involve pursuing a creative career or passion you may quietly dream about but have been unable to pursue. If you’re an engineer, you may secretly dream of writing sci-fi novels, becoming a movie director or the lead singer in a rock band. Or you may dream about spending part of your life traveling the world, running a charity to alleviate global hunger, or creating some kind of unique impact on your community. Whatever this may entail, map out the most viable journey possible toward achieving this particular future, and paint the most realistic picture of how it works when you get there. 

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