5 steps you can take to shape a better future today

By Matthew Farmer  |  17 April 2024

Are you trying to figure out what you can do to shape a better future? You’re not alone. People are looking for meaning and purpose through their work more and more.

To recognize Emerging World’s 20th Anniversary, we recently convened an experience that brought members of our community together to do just that – to consider what they can do to Shape a Better Future with their unique talents, using some of the frameworks and tools we apply in our work.

If you’re stuck with a loose intention to make a difference but have no plan, you may find these 5 steps helpful…

1.   Ask yourself some fundamental questions

Take some time to reflect on what a better future means to you. What do you care about? What are you dissatisfied with now that you’d like to see changed? If there was one only one thing you could focus your energy on, what would it be?  Your values might be a good place to start.

2.   Draw your thoughts on paper

When we want to be creative and visionary, words can be constraining. Instead, try to draw what things look and feel like. If you’d like, you can use our template. Begin with the current state of things and draw what this looks like to you.  Don’t worry about artistic ability – no-one is going to judge your drawing, it’s just a way to get your thoughts and feelings into something tangible – out of your head and body and out into the world. Icons, illustrations, stick figures, arrows are all helpful.  We call this drawing a rich picture. It’s something you can come back and add to after time.

Once you’ve done the current state, it’s time to consider the future. What does that look like?  If the things in your drawing of the current state were to be resolved, what would that look like?  Use words sparingly, it’s the process of generating images and relationships that will give your drawing meaning and value and make them more memorable.

Once you have the current state and future state on your drawing, try to capture what the journey from the current state to the future state looks like. While doing this, consider yourself: what can I do, big or small, that would help shape this better future I want to see? Capture your own talents and experience in your drawing and place yourself somewhere on this journey.

Drawing rich pictures of desired future

A rich picture drawing by a 20th Anniversary Experience participant

 

3.   Enrich your thoughts by sharing them with other people

Converse with other people about your ideas for a better future. Share your own thoughts and listen to theirs. The process of sharing helps you to articulate what it is that is valuable to you and helps to make sense of the issues surrounding it. Get feedback and listen to what others think of your ideas for a better future. Hear them describe theirs. The key here is to find like-spirited people, but not like-minded ones. You want some diversity of perspectives, so people who think differently to you and have a different set of lived experiences are useful. At the same time, you want people who will share with you in the non-judgmental and curious way in which you also want to share.

4.   Immerse yourself in a relevant context

Working out what you can do to shape a better future is not an intellectual exercise. You have to go out and feel things for yourself. An immersive experience should be one that is visceral and that activates your senses.  It might inform you about what actions need to be taken on an issue you care about. It might connect you to people, causes and organizations that you could work with. It could inspire you to take a particular course of action or commit to a pursuit. A great immersion may well do all three.

Where to immerse yourself and who to immerse yourself with are questions for you to work out the answer to. The best immersions allow you to disconnect from the day-to-day. They involve some reciprocal engagement – going to give as well as to learn. Many people find some form of guide is also helpful. And if you’re stuck for inspiration of somewhere specific to go to, try somewhere totally new. Get out of your comfort zone. It may just give you the inspiration you need.

5.   Experiment

Learn by Doing.  Intentions and plans are all well and good but what happens when the rubber hits the road? The future is always uncertain and taking action will inevitably require some form of change. A good way to start taking action to shape your Better Future is in the form of an experiment. Framing it as such allows much more room for learning. Great experiments are in your span of control, they leave room for failure and have some feedback mechanism in place that helps you continue to improve on your initial efforts.

Articulate why you want to undertake the experiment. What makes it important? What do you want to learn? What will be the first couple of steps you will take and what feedback loops are in place? What support will you need?

After that, commit to action, continually review your progress and iterate. And remember success is a journey!

If you’re interested in a curated immersive experience hosted by Emerging World, get in touch! We would love to support you on your path to shaping a better future.

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