Feel trapped by the circumstances or challenges you face? Need to reinvent your life? Solve a persistent problem? Renew a relationship? Take advantage of a new opportunity?
The power of future pull
Maybe standard problem solving just isn’t working for you. Rather than push forward from your current situation, try backwards-from-perfect thinking and leverage the power of “future pull.” Visionize and create your future!
First, create a “future anchor,” a vibrant vision of your preferred future. Describe a perfect outcome. Really “blue sky” it! According to George Land, this rich description — or “blueprint” — of your future will act as a “propelling force of creative change.” It will provoke and free you from self imposed constraints.
Liberated from your own biases, thinking habits and mental models, you will
- Escape the shackles of your current trajectory.
- Explore new sets of assumptions.
- What if, innovate, and take risks.
Still constrained? Push yourself further. If you are a verbal thinker, draw your future. If you are a linear thinker, sculpt it. If you are mathematically inclined, capture your vision in a short story or news article or sing it as a song. If you are visually strong, describe your preferred future as a mathematical model or algorithm.
Now step back and list
- Obstacles: all the people, places, times, conditions, actions or other obstacles that stand in the way of your preferred future.
- Enablers: All the resources that can assist you to achieve your preferred future.
Then uncork your thinking. Project yourself forward and imagine having achieved your preferred future. Feel it viscerally with all your senses. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Luxuriate in it. Then, looking backwards, ask: What did I do to get there? This simple question uncorks a flurry of fresh new ideas. Evaluate them. Select the best. Then develop an action plan. You have now articulated a clear path to your preferred future.
Backward-from-perfect thinking is a powerful thinking technique designed to elicit transformative strategies and actions. Visionize, feel the power of future pull and create your future!
Credits: Thanks to Sidney Parnes for first introducing me to the concept of visionizing, to Matt Taylor and his take on “backcasting” and especially to George Land and Tom McNamee for years of insights related to the power of future pull.
Photo credit: Patricia Curtin
This is a re-post from August 6, 2012.