Saturday, January 19, 2013

There are two types of forces in your life. You need to understand both kinds

The two types of forces that will affect your life are the internal forces and the external forces. The internal forces are the forces that are part of your life, every day, throughout your life. The external forces are found in the world around you and may occur locally, nationally, or internationally. These are the forces of change in your life, and each will have an impact over time.

Internal forces. When I was conducting research related to personal futures some years ago, I found that each of us is managing our lives on multiple levels. We are all multi-taskers and have been since long before that term came into existence. As part of my research, I identified six different categories of forces in everyone’s life, in effect dividing life into six parts. The six categories are:

Activities- Everything we do. This includes schooling, employment or career, hobbies, religion, travel, sports, and other activities in life.

Finances-  Everything to do with your money, including income, expenses, taxes, credit cards and insurance, among others.

Health- Everything related to your physical and mental health. Hygiene, diet, exercise, medicines, and medical care are some examples.

  Housing- The Housing domain begins with your home, but includes your neighborhood, community, country and climate.
Social- The Social domain begins with close family and friends and expands outward to include all the people (and stakeholders) you interact with in your work or your community.

 Transportation and mobility-  Includes all available means of mobility beginning with walking and including all forms of personal and public transportation.

 These descriptions of the categories of forces are not cast in stone! They are flexible, so you can arrange the definitions any way you want, but you should try to be consistent. For example, I’ve shown religion as an activity, but some people prefer to put religion in the social domain. That’s OK. Whatever works for you, because it’s your life that you are thinking about.

As for the external forces, the names of the categories can vary, but I prefer the STEEP categories, because they are easy to remember. The descriptions are broad and obvious




These are categories of forces outside your life that can, and probably will, have impacts on you. These forces may be active locally, nationally or anywhere in the world. A government overthrown in the Mid-East, the landing of an exploratory rover on Mars, failure or corruption in foreign banks, the election of a new government in Europe; all have the potential to have an impact on your life. A decision in the national government to raise taxes or cut spending may affect your life. A decision by your city government  to put up stop lights, paint pedestrian lines at crossings, create bicycle lanes on roadways, or to repave the street in front of your home may also have impacts on your life.

All of these examples show the forces of change in action, sometimes with large impacts and sometimes with no impact on you at all, but always with the potential to bring about change that will affect you and your life.

None of this should make you nervous in any way, as all these forces have always been there, and will remain. On the other hand, your awareness of these eleven categories of change may have been heightened, and that is the intent of this piece. To help you be fully aware of the potential for change in your life and in the world that can affect you. Because you are now aware, you should be able to deal with all these changes more effectively, possibly turning some in your favor.

Understanding these forces of change should help you anticipate how change will impact you and where it will take you into the future.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

If you want to learn something about where your future is headed over the next ten years, take a close look at the stakeholders in your life and your career.

Stakeholders are the people (and sometimes the institutions) who can have an impact on your life and your future. Stakeholders are also those who will be impacted by your life and your actions, now and in the future.

Start with your family and close friends. If you have children who are under ten years old, during the next ten years they will become teenagers. That will have an impact on your life! If you have children who are already teenagers, over the next ten years they will be going through big changes in their own lives, and those changes will have an impact on you. Over the next ten years, today’s teenagers will probably complete their education, start work or begin a career, move out of the family home, begin a marriage or other relationship and may start a family—your grandchildren.

Over the next ten years, your parents, grandparents and other relatives will be getting older. Will they retire? Will they move from their home to another city or country? Will they be healthy? What will your relationship be with them and with your spouse’s parents? What will you feel will be your responsibilities to them, and how will you manage those responsibilities?

What about your best friends? They may move to a different area and drift out of your life, or you may still be connected electronically, while others may remain close throughout your life. I have friends from high school (sixty years ago) that I haven’t seen for twenty years, but who still exchange emails with me on a regular basis. Which close friends will still be in your social network ten years from now.

Consider the obvious, the people in your work and career life. How will ten years affect those relationships? If you have a mentor or a tormentor, is that person likely to still be around in ten years? If your best friends are the people you work with, what will happen when you retire?  Most of those relationships may end, leaving a large hole in your social network.

Businesses, institutions, and organizations can be stakeholders in your life. Your employer, your banker, the mortgage holder on your home, your credit card company all have a stake in your life, and can have positive or negative impacts over the next ten years.

As you consider each of the stakeholders in your life and your future, how might your relationship change in each case? Which can get better, which can deteriorate, and why. There may be actions can you take now to insure positive relationships and outcomes. By exploring these relationships now, you can learn something about your future, and find ways to make your future a good one!