The future depends on what you do today. – Mahatma Gandhi
I learned a way to create maps of possible futures today.
It goes something like this.
Pick two unrelated concepts.
Put them on each axis of a two by two matrix and select extreme ranges for each concept.
For example, in the picture above I picked activity and the daily commute.
Activity ranges from no exercise to daily exercise.
And the commute ranges from working from home to a long commute to work.
When you do this the nature of scenarios falls out quite naturally.
For example, if you work from home and get no exercise, you’ll get things done but not be particularly healthy.
If you have a long commute and don’t make time to exercise, you’re probably exhausted anyway and just spend the evenings in front of the telly.
Or, if you do make time to exercise it’s when everyone else is sleeping – late at night or early in the morning.
And if you work from home and make time to exercise you’ve got more options – perhaps even the chance to play regular sports.
So how does this help?
It’s easy to spend a lot of time agonising over our lives – worrying about whether we’re getting the work done or why the pounds are piling on.
This approach is effectively a test – an attempt to vary two variables and see what the result looks like.
The thing with variables is that they can take on different values.
What happens when you vary exercise?
If you work at home right now but don’t make time to exercise then you could make the decision to do that.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple – we have to overcome quite a lot of resistance and deal with the objections and excuses that daily life gives us in abundance.
But, in theory, you could build more exercise into your life.
Ditto with the commute – you just have to be willing to put in extra effort if you want to do miles in the car and on the road.
Or, you could try varying the commute – perhaps by getting another job or negotiating some amount of remote working into your existing one.
The point is, I suppose, that you could go from where you are now to anywhere else on the grid.
You might actually be healthy and active but something’s happened this year that’s changed all that.
As I look at this model it feels a bit of a blunderbuss – an unwieldy instrument that threatens to go off in your hand.
Still, oddly you want to press the trigger to see what will happen.
It’s a way of taking a blunt machete and hacking your way through the thicket of life, creating some kind of separation between different parts.
And perhaps the point is that you go from being lost in the woods to seeing which direction you should move in, however dimly.
You can at least take a first step towards the light.
And, as the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”