Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Practicing What I Preach

I realize that events going on in my life are far more important to me than they are to you, so I hope you’ll indulge me as I go on about achieving my own aspirational future. It may offer some guideposts as you think about your future.

When I was in graduate school at the University of Houston Clear Lake, it was the late nineties. In fact, I was awarded my Master’s degree in Studies of the Future in 2000. In my keystone class in the last semester, an important assignment for the class was to create a personal strategic plan. After two years of learning about futures methods and how to use them, I was ready! I thought.

This was not a cakewalk for me, because it was at this point that I realized that futures methods and techniques I had learned were designed for large organizations. Those methods worked very well in that setting, but there was some trouble scaling down to one person’s future—mine. Fortunately, I went on to create a personal strategic plan that has served me very well over the past ten years, because I have followed it very closely.

My vision included retirement from my business (exporting paper and other commodities) and writing a book. For me, writing a book was my aspiration. So I started reducing the size of my business and finally retired the company. At the same time, I enrolled in a PhD. program to do research with futurist Graham May at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. This was the aspirational part of my vision. I would conduct research to prove the scalabilty of futures methods while developing a system that individuals could use to learn about and plan for their own futures. I called the system Personal Futures.

My dissertation was titled Personal Futures: Foresight and Futures Studies for Individuals. It’s offered as a free download on my web site (www.personalfutures.net), and I’m amazed how many people actually download it.

The research led to the Personal Futures Workbook, which I have used in workshops and presentations about Personal Futures. Since 2008, the workbook has also been available as a free PDF download. Recently, the workbook has been joined by a Spanish translation and a German translation, also free downloads. I’ve been updating the workbook this year, adding a little color and a few more worksheets. It will parallel the book I’ve been writing; It’s YOUR Future… Make it a Good One!

The book is at the printer and should be available by September 1. I’m told that an advance shipment will be on the way to me this week. This very symbolic for me, because writing this book was the aspirational part of my plan.

So my strategic plan worked. In the process of achieving my vision and plan (and this book), I’ve been able to help thousands of people all over the world who downloaded the workbook. I’m hoping to reach more people with this book, which will provide a lot more explanation and detail (and over 100 diagrams and tables) than the workbook can.

Now I’ve achieved my plan, just like I tell people they can, and I did it just like I describe the system in the book and the workbook. The Personal Futures system works, and now I’m working on my own personal strategic plan for the next ten years. Part of that plan will be involved with getting this book to people around the world and starting on the next book. If you want more details, I’ve started another web site, www.vernewheelwright.com. This site is mostly about my writing, with most of the emphasis on It’s YOUR Future…Make it a Good One!

In my last post, I mentioned an article I had written for the World Future Society, “Strategies for Living a Long Life.” Thanks to the generosity of WFS, a PDF file of that article is posted as a free download at www.personalfutures.net. There is also a link to WFS, where you can order the whole conference volume if you wish.

Finally, I’ve joined the twenty-first century and can now be found on Twitter @urfuturist. I hope you will follow me into the future!