My career as a Futurist

Imagine a career in which you are actually paid to worry about the future. You have to worry about every possible threat, every disaster, every weakness and every possible outcome – and how those outcomes will affect people and communities, businesses, cities, states, industries and even our country. Then you plan all sorts of strategies to deal with everything that could possibly happen in those scenarios. As someone who has been known to worry a little more than the average person, a career as a Futurist feels like it could be right up my alley!

Okay, maybe it’s not really considered “worrying” as a career because there’s actually quite an impressive method behind this process. The strategic foresight method of planning for the future is really forecasting with data, insight and input. Many industries use futurists as a way of developing specific plans to implement when behaviors become apparent trends or disasters happen. The energy industry, the military, cities and states, corporate leadership, even presidents have all employed futurists to help them with planning using this method.

Rebbeca Ryan (on left) and me just “Futuring”

I spent my time as a futurist with Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting. Rebecca is a total go-getter! She’s high-energy, super-funny and all-business when she’s talking about the projects that she’s involved in. Her passion for creating the best possible future for communities, businesses and people is apparent! She stresses how important it is for us as a society to fulfill our current needs without negatively impacting the future generation. The children that are born today will have to deal with the problems created in 25 years from now, so why not make it a little less messy?

Let me ask you this question: When it comes to the future, are you someone that just reacts as it happens, plans how to make it happen, resists it from happening or do you often find yourself in the position of wondering what-the-heck-just-happened?

Before my time with Rebecca, I would have put myself into the category of someone that mostly reacts to the future as it happens. Sure, I plan vacations and have future goals, but I often spend most of my time and energy dealing with the urgent things of today. It’s easy to let the future unfold and just continue to react to it day by day. I think many of us probably land in this area – and I’m certain that a lot businesses and city planners find themselves in this position too. But there is another option. While you can’t possibly know what will happen or when it will happen, you can have a plan for if it happens. You can also plan for the outcome you want to make happen.

For example, if a city wants to attract corporations that will bring in more jobs, and they get a company that plans to locate a large manufacturing facility in that city, what would happen if that city doesn’t have the housing, transportation or emergency services to support the thousands of arriving employees? That’s a big problem! Building the infrastructure first is a critical piece of that plan being successful. That may be a very over-simplified version of what Rebecca really does, but she’s helped cities like Charleston, South Carolina and Omaha, Nebraska with similar concerns. She’s also created a successful plan for attracting and retaining young professionals in Columbus, Ohio and a complete community plan for Southern Louisiana – and those are just a few examples of Rebecca’s work. These communities understand the value and need to focus on planning for the future instead of reacting to it or resisting it, especially if they are going to remain relevant. What’s happened as a result of working through Rebecca’s process is a shared vision for the future among business owners, community planners and city leaders. That’s pretty cool in my book!

This career could be a good fit for me. While it might come somewhat naturally to me by being a bit of a worrier, I think this career would not only challenge me creatively but also challenge my analytical skills – and that could be really enjoyable for me! This one has made the short list of career possibilities for sure!

If you want to learn more about Rebecca Ryan or Next Generation Consulting, check out her website at:

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