Future Scenarios – a How-to Vision Tool

Back in April 2015 I came across a tool about writing 5 Future Scenarios. It was a way of visioning where you want to go/who you want to be/what you want to do. The approach has you pick 5 different elements of what you think your future life could be like and then tell the story as if it was 5 years from now. How did I become X? Or how did I do Y?    There are so many life elements you could write about that are part of your future lifestyle – travel, hobbies, activities, classes, experiences, personal development, living location, relationships/connections, creative expression – but just pick 5!

“We’re all heroes of our own stories.” George R.R. Martin

As a writer, I enjoyed the tool as a fun way of doing self-discovery and future visioning. But story telling is a tool anyone can use.   We all tell stories. Tell me about the day with your grandson, that Thai yoga massage you like, that new restaurant you tried, that book you just finished reading. Tell me about the amazing trip you took & how did you plan it? How did you become a writer, a painter, a potter, a marathoner, or a master gardener? How did you create a healthy daily lifestyle? How did you come to be living here? We all tell stories…. this was just telling the story as if it was 5 years from now, looking back at how it came to be!

I recently pulled out those 5 scenarios, which I had written and then just put away.   It wanted to see if in 3+ years anything had come to fruition. My stories were not long – merely 1-2 paragraphs for each one. My 5 scenario elements were Foodie-ness, Location, Blogging, Life Rhythm, and a pure Fantasy one that involved my husband changing (oh dear). I was very early in my retirement transition (I had not even started blogging!), and I had a lot of self-discovery still to do.

While not exactly as written in the scenarios, I was shocked at how many of the details did come to be!

  • I did create a life-coaching retirement transition class and met a couple I still connect with. This was actually written exactly in one of the stories!
  • I did create a foodie-club, which continues to meet (almost) every month to explore new restaurants around town. And I did join forces with a friend to write a food-based review of our dining experiences (and we are trying to see if we can get them published locally).
  • We did settle my SIL in her new apartment and moved to our own new location. Although our house was not a fixer-upper (as depicted in the location scenario), it was exactly as described. It also has a workable office space for me; a functioning kitchen I cook in; and a dining room that is for dining (not working), which were all details mentioned in various scenarios.
  • I planned (and executed) the trip to Africa I wrote about in Life Rhythm.
  • I created a retirement transition blog and it is being followed. The Blogging story had followers as a surprise detail!
  • After some challenges, life has resolved itself into more freedom and a working daily rhythm… both in Ohio and Florida! Again written as part of Life Rhythm – not the challenges but the working daily routines.

The pure fantasy story is the one that didn’t really emerge.   Probably because it was so unrealistic and out of my personal control – like hubby deciding not to be a pack-rat!

It’s so exciting to see how this tool worked as part of visioning. I had not looked at these stories in the past 3 years, and yet each had many, many details that came to happen.   Some would say that by creating them in this intentional manner, I allowed the Universe to know it was what I wanted.

I will be creating 5 new future scenarios this summer as part of a new creative visioning exercise. Now to think about what elements to write about!

Have you ever used this type of tool for visioning? Are you intrigued to try it?

Picture Credit: Pixabay

28 thoughts on “Future Scenarios – a How-to Vision Tool

  1. Such an interesting post and a different way of looking at things. I’m very focussed on the now at present, but I loved your idea of a ‘writing’ vision board, and I do believe that we have to believe in what we want to happen for the future – not in a woo-woo way, but just by setting mid range and long range goals.

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    1. I found it an intriguing approach as well….especially for the writer in me. It’s not as conscious as goals though as I really did write them and put them away! That said, I also have goals…I’m a true structure-girl.

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  2. While I do not have a problem setting short-range goals, I have great difficulty creating a long-range vision. I love this creative writing exercise though. Somehow, imagining my future as a story is a less intimidating 🙂 We leave for a family vacation next week and I will plan to work on my own five scenarios while sipping a cool beverage by the lake. Thank you (and I will pin to #MLSTL board for future reference)

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    1. Molly, As I started reading your comment, I wondered if you would tack on the future five years to your memoir work! Wouldn’t that be interesting…create a similar set of questions that Julia has presented and write it out as a memoir. I’m personally playing with crafting stories in life’s big Life Wheel elements…. relationships, leisure, home, etc. Not 100% sure yet of my own approach this time…but probably will not share them publicly when I’ve written them. That felt right last time – write them and put them away. But doing it ll while sipping a cool beverage and looking out over water… that is a brilliant idea!

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      1. GREAT idea! The memoir work (looking at the past) will end in September. I think fall is the perfect time to think about the future. I will, however, do a bit of brainstorming by the lake next week 🙂

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  3. I’ve never heard of this before Pat. I’m not sure I want to try thinking about 5+ years from now – I’m still learning to focus on the “now” and not over-thinking and over-planning. Perhaps when I have my act together it’s something I could look at doing. You are so inspirational with all the different things you come up with and all the activities you tackle and conquer.

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM x

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    1. Leanne, to everything there is a season! And different people need different things! I’m feeling the need, after 4 years being retired and hitting many of the elements I first laid out, to set a (new?) direction for my journey. I understand focusing on the now as well. In fact, my hubby is always there…he hates plans and looking forward. It’s really about knowing yourself and what you need.

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  4. As I was busy scribbling notes while reading this I realized how much I needed to get this message right now. I recognize that I’m at a point right now where setting a course for the next 5 years would be highly desirable. This sounds exactly like the tool that would help me get started!

    I tend to think in much shorter time frames – usually one year – so there is no question I’m going to find this a stretch. Thanks for the nudge 🙂

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    1. Joanne – I got goosebumps when I read your comment. It is so gratifying to know that things I put out there in writing actually can help someone!

      BTW, I also have a hard time thinking that far out (2023… can you even imagine!). I think I mentioned in another comment, I discovered doing this type of stuff while working that it is actually very hard for folks to think out that far. Quite often, the things we put out 5-10 years happened way faster than that. So pushing to 5 years means thinking big things…not just planning the next trip. I started my own thinking and know it’s going to be a stretch for me as well!

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      1. In my working life, I lived first hand the challenge with long term thinking, but how powerful it can be when audacious goals are visualized.

        I’ve actually started to sketch out 8 (!) different long term goals. Now it’s a case of narrowing it down. Time will tell whether my thinking was bold enough 🙂

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  5. I have never done an explicit exercise of this type, but I certainly always have a series of visions dancing in my head so to speak. It might be what the new herringbone floor in the family room will look like when it’s completed or what my shop will look like when it’s fully organized (maybe more of a hallucination than a vision), or my golf swing looking like Dustin Johnson’s or my body looking like Bill Phillips, so I guess you could say I have a lot of fantasies. 😂😂 So, I would say that I create many future scenarios in my head, but I never write them down. Maybe I should try the writing part. That might make it more likely that my mind will be triggered unconsciously to pursue the details without me having to initiate the action explicitly.

    I also think that the further outside your circle of control (and influence) and the further outside your comfort zone and personal experience, the harder it is to manifest that future vision, though it’s certainly not impossible. If you are really motivated by the vision (I mean truly motivated!) you will find a way to make it happen in some form. If it’s just an idle fantasy (gee, it would be cool if……) it will probably never happen. You’ve already experienced what happens outside your circle of control with your wishes for your hubby to shed his pack rat tendencies. Perhaps you could create a compelling vision for him of what life would be like without those tendencies and how it would be so much better for both of you (financially, stress-wise, space-wise, etc.) and try to help him see why he would want to go there. As a person with those same tendencies, I know it would be tough to change, but with the right vision proposed to me, I might modify my behavior. Good luck!

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    1. LOL on your fantasies! Maybe you should write them down and see if your golf swing improves or something happens to organize your shop (elves at night?). However, I did say not all the details in my stories come to be…

      I’ve tried lots with Mr Pack Rat. Compelling visions, threats, pleas. I’m trying to just accept it now. My next set of stories will be within my control…and hopefully pushing the boundaries of comfort zone. As Deb calls the “big-ass ideas”! Not sure what yet… but it’s dancing in my head.

      One thing I believe is that taking them from dancing in the head to putting them on paper – either with pictures or words – makes them more “real” to the Universe. I know some of it is unconscious triggering, but I do believe some of it is bigger than that. The Universe putting things in your path. A bit woo-woo for the scientist in me (and you), but the synchronicity of life sometimes amazes me!

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  6. I love your ideas Pat and it would be so interesting to read our stories and see what has transpired and what hasn’t. I too would like to help others through life coaching so would be interested to find out more from your experience. Have a great week and again thank you for always inspiring me. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sue, I’ll send you a direct note about life-coaching. I am a certified life-coach with a niche certification in retirement life coaching. I don’t actively practice. I’ll tell you more directly.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What an interesting writing exercise and exercise in foresight or planning! This week, yes, this week…I am going to get back at the writing. Kathy mentions having a dream or vision board. I have created a kind of dream board via Dreamitalive.com. Should write a post about that, maybe?

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    1. I’ve written the “story” behind my vision boards as well. I find it’s a bit different sorry that this approach, as it’s more about explaining what the visuals mean to you. This story tool is like telling a friend about how you planned that great vacation you just took and all the amazing things you saw… much more detailed and “how I did it” and “then I did”. They are both great visioning tools!

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  8. Hi Pat, I’ve done something similar years ago. Wrote down a lot of big ass, pie-in-the-sky (or so I thought) goals. Then forgot about them. A year later found the list and was amazed at how many had already come to pass, without me actively pursuing them. There’s something to this, for sure!

    Deb

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    1. Oh Deb, it’s so good to hear someone else had a similar experience! I didn’t think mine were that pie-in-the-sky … maybe the fantasy one! Perhaps I should be bolder when I do my next set. 5 years from now is 2023… wow. I’ve accomplished a lot in the 4 years since I retired…. it will require some deep thinking for the next 4-5 years big ass ideas.

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  9. I love the concept of 5 Future Scenarios! What a great way to envision a future you want and, hopefully, make it happen. Even writing about the future you envisioned that was pretty much out of your control probably provided you some steps you could take that you did have control over. You have inspired me to give some thought to what my 5 Future Scenarios might be and commit them to paper.

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    1. Janis, I think a lot of bloggers (writers) might find this tool more accessible than vision boarding, although I know you’ve done that as well. When I was working we often did future scenario work and it’s quite hard to predict 5 years into the future… we tend to think it’s 5 and it’s often just 2-3! But push for 5… put the date, your age, your hubby’s age, whatever can make you believe it is that time point. Hope you have fun with this!

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  10. Hi Pat,
    Apologies. I should have responded when you so kindly replied to my questions about the 5 stories on your previous post. I did see that and I have tried/am trying this tool. I appreciated you saying that each story didn’t need to be super long – that made it easier to begin.
    How very cool that so many elements of yours have come to pass. As Kathy says, you do “get to make it up.”

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    1. Karen, It was all the interest in this tool (you included) that pushed me to post this blog…. so no apology needed. It’s helpful to know what to write about sometimes…and I was planning to talk about this tool more anyway! And my stories were literally 1-2 paragraphs! But the details were in there; I even made up names of new friends. I’m definitely planning another set for the next 5 years since I seem to be at a point of another transition – new house set, through treatments, not planning any more “work”. What’s next is a good thing to look at!

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  11. Hi Pat! How very cool. And it proves to me that “you get to make it up.” In some ways it serves exactly as a vision board does…except by writing. In my experience not every single thing that I put on my vision board comes true but enough to let me know that when I put those things on the board (or as in your case in your stories) they are like seeds planted in your mind. Not all sprout but enough to make a difference. I just might have to give this one a try. ~Kathy

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    1. Kathy, Yes, it is similar to a vision board, which I also do. What I liked about it was I’m more about words than visuals…the story teller inside me. I was actually surprised how many details came to be, especially as I had not looked at the stories in over 3 years! I recalled I had done them and enjoyed the creation…it was one of the things that caused me to write more and start blogging! But I had to go search for them to see what happened. The number of things that came to be (not all) was quite surprising to me.

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