Future studies to get you unstuck from the present

Imagining what lies ahead Photo credits: Thinkstock

Imagining what lies ahead
Photo credits: Thinkstock

Many times people wish that futurists could look into the future and see the things that they don’t see yet. However, futurists cannot predict the future. But it can help to think more widely about potential events and potential convergence of trends and development. One of the most exciting aims of future studies is how to think about what we don’t know yet?

Stuck in the present

When thinking about the future, the same brain areas are triggered as in thinking about the past. It is hard to get beyond those prewired grooves in our brains. We are stuck in the present and in what we know. Futurists help people to think beyond what they know.


Future studies is both an art and built on science. Knowledge of research rapports that provided analyses of certain development, say about climate change or about the latest applications of nano materials, is only the beginning of thinking about the future. What follows is the mind stretching task of imagining possibilities of what may come next. Not one future, but many futures, the whole range of possibilities. Divergent thinking, getting the crazy and ridiculous thoughts on the table. Especially the thoughts that trigger resistance, “that can never happen” provide value. Often there are elements in those thoughts that are pretty interesting.

Imagining where you want to be in the future

After having laid out on the table where the world is going to, then it is time to image where you, as an organization, or as a person want to be in the future. Powerful, bolt dreams is what has put people on the moon. So why not outline your most powerful dream? The key is to stay close to who you are, what makes you unique and makes your contribution stand out. From this starting point, there is a whole future to conquer. By having analyzed the trends and pictured creatively the future, you are ahead of others in imagining possibilities and seeing opportunities for yourself. You can start to build a roadmap, unravel the steps that you need to take, and imagine the cross road that you may face.

One step ahead makes all the difference

Experiencing a future study brings an unprecedented helicopter view that can leave a lasting impression. From there on the strategic path of building a unique position in the future can be started. If the process has been done rightly, this makes you see possibilities and opportunities laying in the potential convergence of trends that others may not see yet. Hence, getting unstuck from the present means one step ahead, faster and with a clear aim.

About Freija Van Duijne

Twitter: @FreijavanDuijne Futuring is my passion. I am fascinated about what the future might bring. Always looking around for leads about the future and open for new insights. I am futurist, trendwatchter and strategist at the The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, a thinktank in the Netherlands. My background is in Human factors psychology. I did my Masters at Leiden University and I did a PhD in Delft University at the faculty of Industrial design engineering. I have been involved in foresight studies since 2006. I am frequently asked as an expert for future studies in area of food, natural resources, health and governance. I am also a speaker and workshop facilitator on futures studies, trend presentations and the many topics that I blog about. My contributions to Futuristablog represent my own personal opinion and is never a statement of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
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