One-third of all Americans are dissatisfied with the future they and their families face, according to a recent Gallup survey. Even among those who say they are satisfied, optimism about the future is the lowest it’s been in 40 years.
The good news: you can create your own future. Better yet, you can do it simply and systematically as part of your everyday life, both inside and outside the workplace.
Peter Drucker, the legendary father of modern management, approached the future with a forward-focused mindset, as something to be created and nurtured in the present moment.
Don’t leave your future to chance or fate, or subject to the whims of others. Instead, unlock and live your best future, beginning in the here and now.
Start with these five strategies, inspired by Drucker and re-imagined for today’s fast-moving, uneasy times:
1. Make friends with uncertainty and change.
From disruptive new technologies to breakout businesses, nonstop uncertainty and change are the new normal. But as Drucker said, “The most effective way to manage change successfully is to create it.” This requires seeing change as an opportunity, not a threat.
Identify three to five role models—people you know or who are in the public eye—who seem to be adept at navigating the future.
2. Look for and find the future.
Be mindful of what Drucker called “the future that has already happened.” Anticipate the effects of actions and events that have already taken place but have yet to fully unfold. Tap into the work of future-related thought leaders, think tanks, and business and academic organizations.
Form a specialized book club or discussion group dedicated to thinking about the future.
3. Practice relentless self-development.
Diversify your interests, remain relevant, develop a powerful personal brand, maintain a global outlook, and create work that benefits others.
Self-development, said Drucker, requires “learning new skills, new knowledge, and new manners.”
4. Remove and improve.
Figure out which activities, practices, products, or services have outlived their value in your career and organization. Take control by intentionally removing what no longer makes sense, something Drucker referred to as systematic abandonment. Then, with what remains, apply the Japanese principle of kaizen: steady and incremental improvement.
Ask yourself, “If a particular practice in my work weren’t already in place, would I start doing it now?”
5. Determine your goals beyond the workplace.
Besides writing, teaching, and consulting about management, Drucker also talked about spirituality and the importance of having what he termed “existential goals”. He recommended asking yourself the big questions of life, such as: Who am I? What am I? What do I want to be? What do I want to put into life, and what do I want to get out of it? And what do I want to be remembered for?
What are your answers to these questions? Think about how they’re most relevant for creating your future.
Make choices and commitments and take action today, with tomorrow always in mind.
Here are a couple of AMA seminars that can help you move ahead in your career:
Organizing Your Work: New Techniques for Administrative Professionals
The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People®