By Bruce Rosenstein
One-third of all Americans are dissatisfied with the future facing themselves and their families, according to a recent Gallup survey. And even among those who are satisfied, their 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, 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. The takeaway for today: make choices and commitments, and take action, with tomorrow in mind.
Don’t leave your future to chance or fate, or to the whims of others. Instead, unlock and live your best future, beginning in the here and now. Start with these five keys, inspired by Drucker and imagined for today’s fast-moving, uneasy times:
1. Make friends with uncertainty and change. Nonstop uncertainty and change are the new normal. From disruptive new technologies to breakout businesses, turbulence abounds. 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.
Quick tip: 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.” That is, 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.
Quick tip: Form a specialized book club or discussion group dedicated to finding 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.
Quick tip: Self-development, said Drucker, requires “learning new skills, new knowledge, and new manners.”
4. Remove and improve. Odds are that in your company there are activities, practices, products, or services that have outlived their value. Intentionally remove what no longer makes sense, something Drucker referred to as systematic abandonment. Then, with what remains, apply kaizen: steady and incremental improvement.
Quick tip: Ask yourself, “If a particular practice in my business 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 proposed 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?
Quick tip: What are your answers to these questions? Think about how they’re most relevant for creating your future.
Bruce Rosenstein is managing editor of Leader to Leader and author of Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward-Focused Mindset (McGraw-Hill). He worked as a researcher and writer for USA Today for more than two decades. For more information, visit brucerosenstein.com.