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How to Predict the Future in Life More Accurately

How to Predict the Future in Life More Accurately

Where business is concerned, there is no crystal ball. When you take on a new venture or work to grow an existing one, there are inherent risks. You can run numbers and plan to your heart’s content, but there are so many factors outside of your control. Wouldn’t we all like to have a better way to predict what would happen in the future?

For the business-owner who is trying to decide whether they should expand to a second location or the big-time investor with money tied up in the stock market, being a few steps ahead of the game can make the difference between making bank or losing your shirt. Uncertainty can have devastating impacts. The Great Recession of 2008,[1] in which the bottom fell out of the US housing market, businesses folded, and people were left unemployed, still looms large in our memories when we think about our futures. Performing causal analysis can mitigate some of the risks of doing business by allowing us to anticipate major shifts like the Great Recession.

Take calculated risks and increase our success without losing it all.

The Great Recession had such a powerful impact because many people didn’t see it coming. The warning signs were there in advance of the collapse,[2] but most people didn’t take them seriously until it was too late.

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One of the great challenges in predicting your future is considering all the possible conditions. A business owner who was doing well in 2007 and had projected growth in 2008 had no way of accounting for the effects of broader economic troubles. The business owner who considered many perspectives and anticipated some unknowns undoubtedly fared better than the one who thought he or she could maintain the status quo.

Stop doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

One of the biggest pitfalls in business is thinking that a strategy will continue to be effective. In an ever-changing landscape, you have to be able to adapt you plan and respond to different circumstances. Causal layered analysis is an excellent way to find the best strategies for creating a secure future.

Causal layered analysis works by considering multiple inputs that can effect your outcomes. Some of the factors that must be considered are:[3]

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  • The litany: These are beliefs and feelings that people have about a situation. These beliefs can be based on quantitative data, but they can take on a life of their own. For example, if data projects low sales in this quarter, employees may internalize that belief and respond with fear or helplessness. They may perform poorly regardless of opportunities during the quarter.
  • Social causes: These include historical, political, and economic beliefs that influence outcomes. When a businessperson is deciding whether or not they wish to expand to a second location, they may cite uncertainty over the real estate market after 2008 as a reason not to buy a second property. The dominant political party’s economic policies may also impact how people choose to act in business matters.
  • Discourse: When we think about shaping new policies, who has a seat at the table? Are men and women included in the company’s discussion on parental leave policies? A company that values diverse perspectives will gain new insights. Inclusiveness is powerful.
  • Metaphor and myth: What are the dominant narratives, and how are those impacting outcomes? If we look at this in the context of schools, there is a common misconception that parents in low-income communities don’t care about education for their kids. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Parents in low income communities are still involved in their children’s education.[4] Misunderstandings in any context can have a negative impact on the way that we operate.

How Causal Layered Analysis helps you to predict the future?

After you’ve asked yourself a question and considered the litany, social causes, discourses, and myths surrounding that question, you can start to process of correcting misconceptions and shaping outcomes.

1. Brainstorm.

One of the best ways to correct misconceptions is to figure out what they are by reengaging stakeholders. When you empower every employee, from the entry level worker to the CEO to engage in a dialogue, you may see incredible results.

One powerful example of this comes from one of the most ubiquitous companies in the world today: Starbucks. Some baristas and a store manager suggested that the frappuccino would be a top-seller. People at the corporate level vetoed the idea, but a manager suggested that they try to market the product anyway. The frappuccino went on to be a major success for the company.[5] Different perspectives matter!

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2. Rebuild and repair mindsets.

From analyzing discourse and myths, you should know whose voices are being heard and who is controlling the dialogue. If one group is controlling the narrative at the expense of the rest of your staff, the imbalance is going to topple your organization. Perhaps you’ll need to change the office culture. If you are using causal layered analysis in your personal life, you may have to get to the core of why you hold certain beliefs.

3. Brainstorm again.

Use what you have learned to envision a better outcome. Solicit the input of your stakeholders once more in order to refine your solutions. Include multiple perspectives as well as quantitative and qualitative data.

4. Determine the takeaways.

Which ideas are going to take you toward your vision of success? What are the potential weaknesses and fears that you have moving forward?

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5. Lock on to certainty.

There are some things you simply can’t change. Identify those things because you’ll either have to use them to your advantage or work around them. Perhaps you aren’t able to find talent to fill positions in your business, and this has always caused problems for you. You’ll either have to find new ways to recruit and train people, or you’ll have to scale your work accordingly.

6. What are the free radicals?

What types of unknowns could affect your outcomes? Could you build more fail-safes into your plan to account for potential problems?

You can perform Causal Layered Analysis on almost anything

This form of causal analysis is most often applied in the world of business, but it can be useful in other forms of future planning and problem solving–from climate change to terrorism futures.[6] Whether you are deciding to buy a house or take a new job, you may find that thinking about your questions through the lens of Casual Layered Analysis can help you unpack the complexities of a problem. As we learned from Dubner and Levitt’s Freakonomics, we often come to the wrong conclusions because we do not understand the difference between correlation and causation, and we ask the wrong questions.

Causal analysis can help us ask the right questions and come up with solutions that reflect a multitude of considerations. We may not have a crystal ball, but we can have a multi-faceted approach to anticipating future events.

You can learn more from Sohail Inayatullah about Causal Layered Analysis here:

Reference

[1] Forbes: What Really Caused the Great Recession
[2] The Telegraph: Federal Reserve missed financial crisis warning signs in 2007, documents show
[3] Shaping Tomorrow: Making better decisions today: Causal Layered Analysis
[4] Center for Public Education: Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement
[5] Business News Daily: If you listen up, your employees will step up
[6] Dr. Sohail Inayatullah: Causal Layered Analysis

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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