I started writing this post in early November but didn't finish it until the end of December. It seems this has not been the year of blog writing for me.
It appears I haven't written anything since January. Is that sad? Or is it okay?
Should I feel guilty? Or should I recognise I've been preoccupied with life, family, PhD and just generally trying to make my life as good as I can make it?
Right now, I should be writing my PhD. But my brain won't let me. That's an excuse, I am sure, but my brain is quite happy not writing my PhD at the moment. I'm doing a lot of reading, some useful, some just for distraction. I've written some blog posts this year about my PhD here probably as another act of procrastination.
But I haven't been idle. My PhD is progressing. I'm developing a 'conversations about the future' framework to centre my work on people not process. This is based on my integration of integral and foresight which has also structured the design of this website. It all remains a work in progress and that's okay.
What shall I write about now though? Am I just being self-indulgent writing this blog, thinking it will be useful, tracking social media hits, and ticking off another blog post. Does it really matter?
I'm not being existential here, but I am thinking about this privileged space I'm in as a futures practitioner. I spent a week at the Anticipation Conference in London in November. It was great. I presented with Cindy Frewen and Bridgette Engeler on Human Centred Futures. I met lots of interesting new people, heard some really energising presentations which doesn't happen that much at conferences these days and had a day to be a tourist. But it is - in reality - a closed world.
Someone at the conference talked about how some people have lives where uncertainty is the norm, where a place to stay, food on the table, physical and mental safety and just living are never certain, and how certainty is not likely to enter their worlds anytime soon. We all have to face uncertainty at some point but at least I can make a decision about how to respond to it. Many people can't. This is the note I took:
Who gets to be uncertain and who gets to be certain with an open future emerging, or who gets a clear path and whose future is always uncertain - where there is no option. How does uncertainty become privileged? How does lack of agency become reality?
Often when I'm doing futures work in a room full of people who are 'busy' and who lately have been facing organisational restructures and job loss, I wonder about the value of what we are doing. Their lives are caught up in the present, with dealing with what's happening right now. And honestly, thinking about the future in the way I want them to isn't on their horizon. Where is their time, and their opportunity to take time and create space for thinking about the future? Yet, this is what I tell everyone to do.
Make it a priority I say. You only need 15 minutes a day to start with. You can do it. Can they really though? I do it but the future is my job. It's not their job. And the agency thing again. I can act on the future, use it today, because of my training and experience as a foresight practitioner. My work is essentially about building foresight agency in others. But who controls or shapes the context in which how and why foresight agency emerges? Not me, it's an individual capacity. All these thoughts have emerged since the Anticipation Conference, and they are all still ill-formed thoughts. No structure yet, so I will let them sit for a while and see what emerges.
The same goes for the blog. I'll let it sit for a while because I think I need to find a new focus for it, more than the random thoughts that are triggered by reading something or having a conversation. I'll be back in 2018, aiming to have a more well formed idea about how I can continue to help people articulate the nature of their foresight capacity and how they can use it. We all need to move to a position where we integrate the future into our present - and not by forcing ourselves to spend 15 minutes a day doing some strategic thinking. That's not the answer, but I don't quite know what is yet.