We discover how forward thinking in work and life opens up opportunities and skills you otherwise might not discover.
It may be tempting to only consider the present, especially when things feel comfortable and happy around us, but when we do so we are essentially going backwards.
This is especially true when it comes to our careers, but the effect of staying still for too long and not looking forward towards potential changes can affect all aspects of our life. If we don’t move forward life around us will, or other companies will take advantage of our missed opportunity, and therefore it’s important to develop a forward-thinking mindset.
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What Exactly Is Forward Thinking?
Forward thinking is a mindset that considers how things will be ahead of the present, but it’s not like a mystic palm reader who delves into spiritual feeling or hope. A forward-thinking mentality is often adopted by entrepreneurs and futurists who consider how the future will change, so they can adapt to it easier, or even be ahead of the curve when it comes to considering potential trends.
Whilst often associated with innovation and future development, being forward thinking can help anyone in different aspects of life too, as we will discover.
Do you spend a lot of your time dreaming of possible scenarios? Do you like problem-solving? Does the thought of change excite you rather than worry you? If yes then you are likely a forward thinker (or at least have the right mindset to develop your forward-thinking skills).
Forward-thinking people could also be thought of as dynamic, progressive, enterprising, pioneering, freethinking, creative and bold. The opposite of forward-thinking would be shortsighted, resistant, or unprogressive.
3 Powerful Traits Of Forward Thinkers
1) Problems Are Just Opportunities
Forward thinkers become aware that there are many more opportunities and possibilities around them than they may have realised by standing still and staying in their comfort zone.
When others see a problem or are resistant to change, a forward thinker sees how that problem can be an opportunity. Essentially, it’s the pessimists who can be the eternal optimists.
2) They Future-Proof Themselves (And Let Go Easier)
Forward thinkers have a lot of energy and overall optimism towards the future because they tend to move forward rather than getting stuck in past successes or regrets.
They future-proof themselves a lot easier by considering how their life or industry might change in the future, and therefore preempt change rather than fear it or wait until it hits them without warning.
A forward thinker is a visionary person who not only becomes more interested in future changes and developments, but can rethink and restart goals a lot easier too. They find it easier to think of ‘fresh starts’ and that life is just a series of new chapters, rather than feeling trapped in a box that they can’t get out of (or have become too reliant on).
3) They Create Better Solutions
Forward thinkers are good visualisers who envision a better solution to what currently exists, and like to consider the big picture as part of working out what they should and shouldn’t focus on.
They develop and unleash their creative problem-solving skills as they don’t just accept what is around them and seek out better ways of doing things.
The Importance Of Forward-Thinking In Business (Or Career)
It should be clear by now that if a company doesn’t keep up they fall behind, but forward thinking is more than just keeping up, it’s thinking ahead.
When a company or brand is first launched it generally does so because it’s got a product or service that has considered a need, and therefore has likely considered (at least the immediate) future in mind.
However, too often, especially in today’s fast-paced and changing environment, they quickly find that they need to keep being forward-thinking otherwise they risk falling into the crowd. Longevity and growth lead to more profit in the long run and so it’s important to develop forward-thinking qualities, and to recognise quickly when they may need to freshen up (such as with having a rebrand).
Companies that are forward-thinking are innovative. They think differently and ahead. They are creative. They practically find more resourceful methods. They are adaptable to change. They are focused on achieving their goals and vision. They make their goals viable, and actionable today.
The same goes for a profession that requires quick adaptable thinking or creative problem-solving, and there are more and more professions that will require these skills in the future. Our creativity will be a key attribute when we consider how many other jobs will be run by robots instead of humans.
What’s An Example Of Forward-Thinking Innovation?
An example would be to consider how our overconsumption of plastic use has created a damaging effect on climate change, and to envision how this effect would worsen if we didn’t change anything. Or how obesity would continue to escalate if we continued to make fast food unhealthy and convenient.
A forward-thinking mentality doesn’t just look forward, but they consider the events or facts of what happened in order to see the current trend and potential outcome of how things would escalate if those things continued.
When you can see the problem you can then envision both a potentially worst-case future scenario and possible better alternatives.
The Importance Of Forward-Thinking In Life
Forward-thinking doesn’t just have to be conducted by a forward-thinking company, futurist, or innovation consultant. Our personal lives can also benefit from developing forward thinking skills.
In fact, there are many instances where we can adopt a forward-thinking approach beyond predicting future trends or business ideas, or by being an inventor (or agent of change) who envisions new product or service solutions and makes them happen.
The law of attraction essentially works through our ability to forward think and visualise what we want to manifest into our lives. When we create vision boards or draw up positive affirmations we allow our minds to focus easier on making those things come to fruition. The same goes with reframing old negative thoughts often buried in our subconscious. Forward thinking helps us get over these stifling thoughts.
It also makes daily planning much easier. Instead of heading to a shop and mindlessly buying what we see or what is advertised to us, when we forward think we can visualise wanting to make a specific meal that night and buy ingredients accordingly.
Forward thinking also helps us make better investments and avoid being sucked into instant gratification as easily. It helps us be more original and in control of what we want or need rather than just follow the crowd.
Finally, when we can visualise a potential outcome we can also prepare our minds easier for the challenges ahead towards making that outcome possible. This helps us keep going when we face any objections or difficulties in our way, as well as become more aware of potential risks than if we didn’t foresee them. This helps us be more resilient, and forward thinkers tend to build towards a future that would be sustainable and therefore resilient.
Why We Don’t Forward Think Enough Each Day
Despite the clear benefits of being forward-thinking, too often we aren’t forward-thinking in our day. It’s understandable that we have jobs and responsibilities and the urgent can sometimes get the better of us, but the reason we aren’t often forward-thinking is because we simply haven’t developed the skills to be so as we are too often led by routines and logic.
Our minds are deeply conditioned to follow patterns of logic and to preserve energy each day. Forward thinking takes up more energy than most routine tasks, and so we have limited capacity to do so each day.
So why is it that some people are inventing and predicting outcomes all the time, as well as applying solutions, whilst others can barely think about what they want to do that evening or can’t envision change at all?
It’s because forward thinking is a skill, made up of many other soft skills. By the time we are adults so much of our fluid thinking and lateral approaches to problem-solving have been squashed by order, law, and convention. It may help us stay safe and get routine things done, but it just stifles our ability to forward think effectively.
Like most skills, we need to learn how, and part of that is unlearning what may be blocking our forward-thinking potential. Too many companies and individuals tend to think they can tackle innovation with stuffy logic, and by following laws, order, rules, and convention.
Why? Because it’s what they are used to, what they were taught, and it’s often what they are tightroped to. But it doesn’t work. We need a different approach to think differently, and here’s where The Envisionary comes in.
The Envisionary Helps Build Forward-Thinking People & Companies
The Envisionary helps train freethinking individuals, entrepreneurs, futurists and brands to develop these forward-thinking skills, such as adaptability, creativity, innovative thinking, and proactive action.
There are many articles with techniques (actions) around the website which are part of our Creative Academy towards building forward thinkers (such as 3 ways to build a forward-thinking mind right now) – helping both individuals and companies to find better ways to envision and innovate, and see the possibilities of tomorrow today.
You can also join our foundational ‘Get Out The Box’ course to help you adapt, create and envision, or lead into 1:1 or team coaching. We also help entrepreneurs and brands develop more forward-thinking solutions.