By Dean Whittaker

Most of our time is spent engaged in the NOW (0-3 years) doing tactical things for which we are compensated. A small part of our time is spent thinking strategically wondering if what we are doing is the right thing. Our time horizon is 3-5 years. Very little, if any, of our time is spent wondering about what life will be like beyond 5 years.

No wonder it is hard to get world leaders and our population in general to consider the issue of climate change. How do we prepare for a future that few of us have even considered? One idea is to become “future smart.” In other words, become smart about the trends that will be impacting us and the work we do.

Here are a few steps we can take to begin a process to prepare us for a rapidly changing world. First, we can set aside a little time to consider the trends, both hard trends, which are inevitable, such as demographics, and soft trends, which are those determined by human behavior, like the stock market.

Next, we can consider categories of trends: social, technological, economic, environmental, and political. What are some of the trends in each of these categories that will impact you, your family, and your community?

Ask yourself, how will these trends impact me? How will they change what I am doing, and what do I need to do today to prepare for them? For example, if climate change is one of the environmental trends, what could my community do today to prepare for extreme weather? Or if one of the economic trends is an aging population, what can we do today to provide for the aging population such as barrier free housing, a part-time workforce, and expanded health care needs?

Set aside a little time to consider the world beyond the now, anticipate the changes and their implications, and get unstuck by considering the trends both inevitable and those driven by behavior. How will these trends affect your work, your community and your life? Become “future smart.”